According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, the FDA has imposed new regulations on sunscreen manufacturers. Navigating the sunscreen isle can get confusing but will the new sunscreen labels make it easier for consumers?
“The new regulations will make a significant difference,” said Latanya Benjamin, a dermatologist at Lucile Packard Children‘s Hospital at Stanford University. “They standardize the basics of what to look for in a sunscreen.”
The new labels required by the Food and Drug Administration divide sunscreens into two kinds: those that can help prevent skin cancer and early signs of aging as well as prevent sunburn and those that only protect against sunburn. Both types will be clearly labeled as either “broad spectrum” and state that it offers both types of protection or have a warning stating that the product only protects against sunburn.
Looking at SPF alone does not give consumers enough information on whether or not it will prevent aging or skin cancer. Adding the extra information on product labels is a good idea and I believe it will help families make wiser decisions on their sunscreen purchases, provided that they take the time to read the product label first.
While I am in favor of the addition to the sunscreen labels, I found the warnings and new information very difficult to find on my sunscreen bottle. “Broad Spectrum” is clearly visible on the front of my Coppertone Kids sunscreen, but if you don’t know what “Broad Spectrum” means adding that term to the label is not going to effect your decision in the sunscreen isle. On the reverse side of the bottle in tiny print it says, “Uses helps prevent sunburn, if used directed with other sun protection measures, decreases the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging caused by the sun.”
The sun damages your skin with two different types of UV rays, ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). UVB rays are the ones that cause sunburns while UVA rays can cause premature aging and skin cancer. All sunscreens protect you from UVB rays but they don’t all protect your skin from UVA rays.
A lot of products claim to have broad spectrum protection but there hasn’t been a standard definition of what that term means. In order for a product to protect your skin from both UV rays it has to have an SPF of 15 or higher. The FDA has also suggested that companies do not label products higher than 50 SPF, although this is not forbidden.
While I am not usually in favor of government stepping in to regulate business, these changes to sunscreen labels are very minor. The labels haven’t changed too dramatically and I doubt that consumers will even pay attention to these changes while shopping at their local drug store. Parents like myself are used to checking the SPF number and I doubt we will take the time to read anything else on sunscreen labels.
*Please note: this is an editorial and may or may not reflect the opinions of all the writers on The Healthy Moms Magazine.
Cascia Talbert is a busy blogger, publisher, freelance writer, online merchant and mother of five children, living in The Pacific Northwest. With a B.A. in history and law and a passion for writing and staying healthy, she started The Healthy Moms Magazine in 2007. The Healthy Moms Magazine is currently ranked the top health blog for moms and features several health expert writers and mom bloggers. Ms. Talbert believes that if mothers are well educated on health issues and how to stay healthy, they can pass that information down to their children and reverse the childhood obesity statistics in the U.S.
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