This summer, sunscreen consumers will be stuck wading through menacing sunscreen labels.
The summer of 2012 was supposed to mark a time when sunscreen labeling became easier to understand, making it easier to stay healthy and protected.
However, with few companies willing or able to comply with FDA proposed labeling changes on time, the FDA was forced to postpone until December of 2012.
Let’s face it, sunscreen labeling isn’t the easiest to sift through. Most of us are forced to dive into murky labeling, unprepared.
Water-proof, sweat-proof, or water-resistant? Mineral or non-mineral? How water-proof is water proof?
According to the re-labeling guidelines set forth by the FDA:
- Only sunscreens that protect against both UVA and UVB rays will be able to label using the term “broad spectrum.”
- Sunscreens with an SPF lower than 15 would have to come with a warning label stating that it will not protect against skin cancer or premature aging.
- Arbitrary terms like “water-proof,” and “sweat-proof” will no longer be allowed. Only sunscreens that specify how long they stay “water-proof” will be authorized to have these words on their labels.
This summer, be sure to arm yourself with information and knowledge about the safety of your sunscreens. After all, with your skin being the largest organ on your body, it’s so important to be prepared to protect it!
According to the American Cancer Society, more than two million cases of skin cancer are found each year.
A few guidelines:
- Make sure that your sunscreen protects from both UVA and UVB rays. While both contribute to skin cancer, UVB causes the physical burn that we’re all familiar with, and UVA causes premature aging.
- Look for sunscreens that are broad spectrum (protect against both UVA and UVB rays) and have an SPF of at least 15 or more.
- Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours. More if you’ll be in water or sweating.
- Limit sun exposure between 10 am and 4 pm, when rays are strongest.
- Remember that sunscreen isn’t the best protection from the sun. Wear protective clothing, and spend more time in the shade!
Check out the Environmental Working Group’s 2012 guide to safe sunscreens or other articles on the safety of sunscreens. With lots of good research and information, you’ll be able to stay afloat in the sea of strange and misleading terms, and keep you and your loved ones safe.
Stay informed, stay protected!
FDA Delays Sunscreen Label Redo : Shots - Health Blog : NPR. (n.d.). NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. Retrieved June 15, 2012, from
Skin Cancer Facts . (n.d.). American Cancer Society | Information and Resources for Cancer: Breast, Colon, Lung, Prostate, Skin. Retrieved June 15, 2012, from
Sunscreen. (n.d.). U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Retrieved June 15, 2012, from
Reviewed June 19, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith