Sun protection is an important public health issue, and
sunscreen is an integral part of a comprehensive sun
protection regimen that also includes seeking shade and
wearing protective clothing, including sunglasses. Although
science and technology have advanced over the past several
years to dramatically improve the efficacy of sunscreens,
there has long been a need to update the governmental
regulations associated with them, particularly in the areas of
UVA protection and product labeling.
The Skin Cancer Foundation applauds the FDA for issuing its new regulations on sunscreens.
Its recent announcement brings awareness to and acknowledges the importance of UVA
protection in the prevention of skin cancer. These FDA rules, along with the recently updated
standards set by The Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation will enable consumers
to choose sunscreens wisely.
Sun protection is essential to skin cancer prevention - 90 percent of non-melanoma skin
cancers and 65 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the
sun. When shopping for sunscreen, consumers should look for The Skin Cancer Foundation
Seal of Recommendation, which is awarded to sun protective products that meet stringent
criteria for safety and effectiveness. The Foundation requires that testing be done on human
subjects - it is the only organization which reviews scientific testing results for sunscreens.
They consider any analysis of sunscreens based on computer models for measuring UVA and
UVB coverage to be "pseudo-science".
The new FDA sunscreen rules dictate that the terms "sunblock," "sweatproof" and "waterproof"
are no longer allowed on sunscreen labels. A sunscreen may claim to be "water resistant,"
however the product must specify if it offers 40 minutes or 80 minutes of protection while
swimming or sweating, based on standard testing. Sunscreens that are not water resistant
must include a direction instructing consumers to use a water resistant sunscreen if swimming
Sunscreens may be labeled "broad-spectrum" if they provide protection against ultraviolet
A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. Only broad-spectrum sunscreens with a Sun
Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher can state that they protect against skin cancer if used
as directed with other sun protection measures. And sunscreens cannot claim to provide sun
protection for more than two hours without reapplication.