FDA postpones deadline for new sunscreen labeling rules

Last summer the FDA notified sunscreen manufacturers of new rules about labeling that were to take effect this month, but in response to requests for delay by the manufacturers the deadline has been postponed until December. The new guidelines are intended to help consumers better understand sunscreen labels, especially the term “broad spectrum” coverage. This is important because the SPF rating only applies to UVB (ultraviolet B) which is what causes burning. The UVA spectrum is more associated with aging (remember UVA = aging, UVB = burning.) Only broad-spectrum sunscreens will be able to claim that they protect against risk of skin cancer and premature aging. These new rules will help consumers, but manufacturers have had difficulty meeting the new standards so we won’t see them universally applied this summer.
Other updates to labeling will be the disappearance of the terms “waterproof” and “sweatproof,” to be replaced with the more accurate term “water-resistant” and then only if clarified by defining whether it is for 40 or 80 minutes. Sunscreens will not be allowed to claim effectiveness for more than 2 hours without re-application.
Until the new labeling is applied, my advice is to look for broad-spectrum protection including SPF of 15 or more. And do get out and enjoy the sun if you can this summer!