New sunscreen rules delayed

Consumers should still read labels carefully throughout the summer

Sunscreen squeezed into hand

New sunscreen regulations were due to take effect today, but you won’t see label changes until next summer.

The Food and Drug Administration’s rules for over-the-counter sunscreen are designed to help clarify which products offer protection against skin cancer and which ones only protect against sunburns.

The new requirements were supposed to take effect this month, but the FDA delayed the rules until December so manufacturers would have time to implement the changes.

Here’s what the new rules include:

  • Standards for testing the effectiveness of sunscreens
  • New rules for what manufacturers can put on their labels

What it means for you

  • Sunscreens that pass the new tests and show they protect against all types of sun damage can be labeled “Broad Spectrum” and “SPF 15” (or higher) on the front.
  • Sunscreens can no longer be called “waterproof” or “sweatproof.”
  • Products cannot be called “sunblocks.”
  • Manufacturers cannot claim a sunscreen provides “instant protection” or provides more than two hours of protection without reapplication unless they receive approval from the FDA.
  • Manufacturers have until December 17, 2012 to test and label their products under new standards.

So what should you do until then? ADC Dermatologists recommend reading the label for active ingredients.

SPF only indicates UVB protection and not UVA, so look at the ingredient list for active UVA protectors.  Key ingredients to look for are zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (physical blockers) or photostabilized Avobenzone (chemical sunscreen) that provide UVA protection.  Zinc oxide is now available in more elegant preparations than before, so it is not as thick and pasty as it once was.”