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Tuesday, October 07, 2014 10:01 am

What You Need to Know About Sunscreen Labels

New labeling rules for sunscreen from the Food and Drug Administration went into effect in 2012.

• The words “waterproof,” “sweatproof” and “sunblock” are banned; according to the FDA, they overstate the product’s effectiveness.

What You Need to Know About Sunscreen Labels
Be (pro)active and reapply sunscreen
(Photo Credit: Victoria Kvilhaug)

• Sunscreens cannot claim to provide protection for more than two hours without reapplication  or claim “instant” protection without evidence.
• The term “broad spectrum” may only appear on sunscreens proven to protect against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
• Only broad spectrum sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher can claim to  reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging if used as directed.  
• Manufacturers can claim that a product is “water resistant for a period of 40 or 80 minutes, based on standard testing.
• The standard “Drug Facts” information must be included on the side or back of the product packaging.
The image above is an example of labeling for a sunscreen product that meets broad-spectrum criteria, is SPF15, and is water resistant for 40 minutes. This image has been provided by the United States FDA and is free of all copyright restrictions and available for use and redistribution without permission. Source: Food and Drug Administration