Do You Know How to Pick the Best Sunscreen?
The United States Food and Drug Administration recently made it easier for consumers to pick the best sunscreen by finalizing new guidelines that affect advertising claims. If you have been picking out sunscreen because of price, habit or brand loyalty, you might want to learn about the new FDA sunscreen guidelines to make sure you are really making the best choice. These new standards just came into effect at the end of 2012, so this is the first summer consumers can benefit from more clear and practical labeling of sunscreen products.
Using sunblock effectively and appropriately is an essential measure for skin safety. No one wants their summer fun spoiled by a painful and embarrassing sun burn, but it is even more important to protect against the serious effects of long-term excessive sun exposure such as skin cancer.
New Labels: Four Key Points that You Need to Know
- Broad spectrum protection. Look for products that offer broad spectrum protection, which means they protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Both can cause the same type of damage.
- The right SPF. Just like Goldilocks rummaging through the home of the three bears, you should avoid too little and too much and look for just right. SPF below 15 is useful only to prevent sunburn. It offers no real protection against skin cancer. The FDA has advised consumers that an SPF of more than 50 has not been proven to offer any additional protection. Depending on your own needs, which you can understand better by talking to your dermatologist, you should select a sunscreen with an SPF between 15 and 50.
- Claims that are all wet. The FDA rejects the notion of water proof sunblock, saying that any and all sunscreen products will be washed off to some extent by water. Some products may, however, be water resistant. These must state the time limit for water (or sweat) resistance, either 40 minutes or 80 minutes.
- Timing. No sunscreen is instant, and none is good for more than a few hours. Such claims are no longer allowed, although if manufactures believe their product is the exception, they can submit proof to the FDA to be considered.
Just like with any product, it pays to read the label carefully before purchasing. Sunscreen is an important part of protecting yourself and your family from the discomfort of sunburn and the danger of cancer, so making an informed and wise choice really does make a difference. Remember these four points when shopping for sunscreen this summer.