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FDA to Start Regulating Sunscreen Labels

For the first time in 30 years, the Federal Government is weighing in on the great sunscreen debate. This summer, the FDA will begin regulating labels.

Skin therapist Katie Pfadenhauer says this is great news.

Katie works at a San Diego Salon & Spa. She often treats clients who’ve spent a touch too much time in the sun, and come to her, burned.

“A tan might look nice, but it's a disorder. It's an immune system response,” Katie explains.

Katie says people seem to have a lot of confusion when it comes to what products are best to use and when.

This summer, the Federal Government will begin cracking down on misleading labels.

University of California San Diego’s Dr. Di Nardo says it's good news. “First they're trying to make order where before there was no order and second it's giving to the consumer some guidelines and awareness.”

Have you seen the “Broad Spectrum” label? That means it guards against both UVA and UVB light.

UVA waves are longer and cause premature aging. UVB waves are shorter and give you a sunburn.

A good sunscreen blocks both.

SPF 15 is the FDA’s minimum recommendation and blocks 94 percent of the sun’s harmful rays. SPF 30 bumps that to 97 percent. SPF 50 blocks 98 percent of the rays. Nothing will be labeled higher because there’s no proof it’s better.

Katie says a big problem for consumers is the misconception a SPF 90 will provide the best protection. Another misconception, waterproof sunscreen. The FDA says there is no such thing. The important part is to put on enough sunscreen and to reapply every two hours.

“It's not just when you're outside swimming or playing, it's every single day. It's a daylight defense,” said Pfadenhauer.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun