Many people have a false sense of protection from improper sunscreen use. Melanoma cases are on the rise. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the country. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, cases of melanoma increased 45 percent from 1992 to 2004.
Sunscreen is labeled with SPF (Sun Protection Label) — a measure of sunburn protection. SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB rays; the SPF 30 blocks 97 percent. SPF 30 does not have twice the protection of SPF 15. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends SPF 30 or higher. Keep in mind that SPF only applies to UVB rays. UVA rays also contribute to skin cancer and pre-mature aging. A broad-spectrum sunscreen will protect from both UVB and UVA rays.
Most people use sunscreen inconsistently or it’s inadequately applied. A golf ball-sized full ounce of sunscreen for a normal size adult body, reapplied every two hours. If sunscreen is applied too thin; it does not work. If your bottle of sunscreen is 8 ounces, chances are it will not last you the entire summer.
June 14, 2011, the FDA finally approved new sunscreen rules and regulations. Below is a list of the changes you will see by summer 2012.
Here are the main points in the FDA’s new sunscreen rules:
- Sunscreens may be labeled “broad-spectrum” if they provide protection against ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation.
- Only broad-spectrum sunscreens with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher can state that they protect against skin cancer if used as directed with other sun protection measures.
- Sunscreens with an SPF of 2-14 will be required to have a warning stating that the product has not been shown to help prevent skin cancer or early skin aging.
- The terms “sunblock”, “sweatproof” and “waterproof” are no longer allowed on sunscreen labels.
- A sunscreen may claim to be “water resistant”; however, the product must specify if it offers 40 minutes or 80 minutes of protection while swimming or sweating, based on standard testing. Sunscreens that are not water resistant must include a direction instructing consumers to use a water resistant sunscreen if swimming or sweating.
- Sunscreens cannot claim to provide sun protection for more than two hours without reapplication.
- Sunscreen manufacturers will have one year to comply with the FDA ruling; smaller companies will have two years.
- The ingredients in sunscreens marketed today have been used for many years and FDA does not have any reason to believe these products are not safe for consumer use.
- The FDA reiterated that sunscreen alone is not enough, and should be used in conjunction with a complete sun protection regimen, including seeking shade, wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, hats and sunglasses.