Blog | Thursday, June 16, 2011

QD: News Every Day--New sunscreen labels to clarify what products protect against

New FDA labels on sunscreens will let consumers know which products reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, as well as clarify the effectiveness of products by their Sunburn Protection Factor (SPF).

Image by the FDASunscreen products that pass the FDA's test for protection against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays can be labeled as "Broad Spectrum." (Sunburn is primarily caused by UVB radiation.) Products that have SPF values between 2 and 14 may be labeled as Broad Spectrum if they pass the required test, but only products that are labeled both as Broad Spectrum with SPF values of 15 or higher may state that they reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging when used as directed.

Any product that is not Broad Spectrum, or that is Broad Spectrum but has an SPF between 2 to 14, will be required to have a warning stating that the product has not been shown to help prevent skin cancer or early skin aging, the agency said in a press release.

In addition to the new labeling, the FDA has proposed to limit the maximum SPF value on sunscreen labels to "50+", because there isn't enough evidence to show that products with higher values provide any more protection. FDA is now seeking public input on that. The FDA is also reexamining the safety information available for active ingredients included in sunscreens marketed today.

For more resources to offer patients on sunscreens, the best sunscreens are often the cheapest brands. And, FDA dermatologist Jill A. Lindstrom, MD, offers a few safety tips for sunscreen use.