June 20, 2011

Suncreen Guidance Provided by FDA in New Proposed Rules

by Erin A. Lawrence

sunscreen.jpgAfter 33 years of consideration, FDA finally plans to reduce consumer confusion related to the ample types of sunscreens available on the market. On Tuesday, June 14, FDA published new guidance that will specify which lotions provide the best protection against the sun.

The new rules require sunscreens that claim protection against skin cancer to prove that they filter out UVB and UVA rays. Currently, FDA only requires testing for UVB rays--the ultraviolet rays responsible for sunburn and cancer. UVA rays are responsible for wrinkles and cancer.

Next summer, sunscreens that do not protect against UVA and UVB rays or if they are below a protection factor of 15 are required to carry the warning: "This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging." Consumers should be on the look out for sunscreens that state protection against a "broad spectrum." By next summer, this will mean that the lotion does an acceptable job at protecting against UVA and UVB rays. Lotions that protect against "broad spectrum" and are above SPF 15 will be allowed to state that they reduce the risks of cancer and signs of early aging if used as directed.

The new rules also propose several other changes. Sunscreen marketing claims like "waterproof" or "sweat proof" are prohibited, as the agency believes that these "are exaggerations of performance." The new rules required that a lotion past a water resistance test to maintain a water claim on their label. Additionally, FDA also proposes capping the highest SPF value at 50, unless the company can provide results of testing to support better protection. FDA reasoned that there is currently no data that shows that SPF above 50 adds any value. SPF stands for sun protection factor. The SPF number relates to protection against UVB rays.

All in all, consumers will have a much easier time deciding what lotion will keep their skin safe and healthy next summer. The must only look for sunscreen that claims "broad spectrum" and then the SPF that is over 15 of their choice.