New sunscreen labels clarify protection

Just last week, when triple-digit temperatures prompted schools to close and governments to issue heat advisories, venturing out into the sun was something to avoid.

But now that the weather has cooled down to the reasonable range, here's some news about sunscreen labeling that could soon help guide you while shopping for sun protection.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has just issued new regulations for sunscreen labeling that should make it easier for consumers to choose the right sunscreen for them. The rules go into effect in a year, but the new labels might appear on store shelves sooner, so here's what you need to know.

Now, broad spectrum sunscreens --- which block both UVA and UVB radiation --- with an SPF of 15 or higher can claim to reduce skin cancer risk or to have anti-aging properties. 

And SPFs will go no higher than "50+" because there's no evidence that SPFs higher than 50 offer greater protection than SPF 50, according to the FDA.

The terms "waterproof", "sweatproof" and "sunblock" have now been banned, according to the FDA. And even water resistant products must be labeled as either providing 40 minutes or 80 minutes of protection. All products should be reapplied after two hours or even more frequently due to swimming or sweating.

Manufacturers must get FDA approval of claims for longer or 'instant' protection.

The federal officials are also still seeking more information from manufacturers of sunscreen sprays.


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