Thursday, June 16, 2011

The FDA to sunscreen manufacturers: In 2012 you have to start telling the truth!

Apparently sunscreens are not waterproof. I thought they were since the label indicated a bold faced statement promising that they were.
"...Waterproof, "sweatproof" or "sunblock" claims. Manufacturers cannot label sunscreens as "waterproof" or "sweatproof," or identify their products as "sunblocks," because these claims overstate their effectiveness. Sunscreens also cannot claim to provide sun protection for more than 2 hours without reapplication or to provide protection immediately after application (for example-- "instant protection") without submitting data to support these claims and obtaining FDA approval.

No cancer protection below SPF-15? Then why bother?

Sunscreens that pass FDA's broad spectrum test procedure, which measures a product's UVA protection relative to its UVB protection, may be labeled as "Broad Spectrum SPF [value]" on the front label. For Broad Spectrum sunscreens, SPF values also indicate the amount or magnitude of overall protection. Broad Spectrum SPF products with SPF values higher than 15 provide greater protection and may claim additional uses, as described in the next bullet.

Only Broad Spectrum sunscreens with an SPF value of 15 or higher can claim to reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging if used as directed with other sun protection measures. Non-Broad Spectrum sunscreens and Broad Spectrum sunscreens with an SPF value between 2 and 14 can only claim to help prevent sunburn.

And how about those really neat sunscreen sprays? They have no evidence whatsoever in regards to their efficacy:

Currently, the record (data and information) about sunscreens in spray dosage forms is not comparable to that for sunscreens in other dosage forms such as oils, creams, and lotions. The manner of application differs significantly between sprays and these other dosage forms. Therefore, we are requesting additional data to address questions of effectiveness and safety that arise from differences in the manner of application.
What do swimmers and beach goers really need to know about sun protection? Wear clothes, a hat, sunglasses, and don't swim between the hours of 10AM - 2:00 PM - but if you have too mostly naked wear lots of sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher and put it on a lot:

Spending time in the sun increases a person's risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. To reduce these risks, consumers should regularly use a Broad Spectrum sunscreen with an SPF value of 15 or higher in combination with other protective measures such as:

Limiting time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM when the sun's rays are the strongest.

Wearing clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun (long-sleeved shirts, pants, sunglasses, and broad-brimmed hats).

Using a water resistant sunscreen if swimming or sweating.

Reapplying sunscreen, even if it is labeled as water resistant, at least every 2 hours. (Water resistant sunscreens should be reapplied more often after swimming or sweating, according to the directions on the label.)
Link to the new FDA Guidelines: [Link]

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