FDA offers stricter regulations for sunscreen

The FDA announces stricter regulations for sunscreen, effective by June 2012.
Written by Stacy Lipson, Contributor

Protecting yourself from the sun's harmful rays can be a headache. How much sunscreen is too much? What level of sunscreen should you be applying for the maximum amount of protection? How long can your sunscreen last before reaching the expiration date?

This week, the FDA announced new regulations for sunscreen, effective by June 2012. Some of the major changes includes prohibiting manufacturers from claiming sunscreen products as waterproof or sweatproof. According to the FDA, claims of water resistance on the front label will be shown in two time blocks, 40 minutes or 80 minutes. Additionally, the FDA is requiring stricter regulations for "broad spectrum" sunscreen products.

USA Today reported:

New sunscreen labels will allow products to claim "broad spectrum" protection only if they pass specific FDA tests for blocking UVA rays, and if they have an SPF value of at least 15, says Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation.

Although some sunscreens already claim to offer "broad spectrum" protection, consumers have had no way to know what that meant, because there was no formal standard, says Darrell Rigel, past president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.

"In the past, the words 'broad spectrum' meant nothing," Rigel says. "Now, we can tell patients what to look for."

Some advocacy groups, such as the Environmental Working Group, are taking a stance against the FDA's rules. Sister site CBSNews.com reported:

"FDA's action offers some noticeable improvements for consumers, such as limiting misleading claims" Dr. David Andrews, a senior scientist with the Washington, D.C.-based group, said in a written statement. "However, it is clear that FDA caved to industry and weakened its safety standards."

The FDA did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Related links: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20071229-10391704.html

Image: via Flickr/Robert S. Donovan

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards