David T. Harvey, MD Mohs Surgeon & Cosmetic Dermatologist

Later this year, the FDA is scheduled to implement some new changes to sunscreen labeling. First off, the new important label will designate whether a sunscreen is broad-spectrum or not. One should look for a broad-spectrum label. This means that the sunscreen protects against both damaging UVA and UVB rays. If a sunscreen just says SPF “X”, you may not be getting the important UVA protection. SPF just refers to the UVB component of a sunscreen. Products that do not carry the broad-spectrum label or contain less than an SPF 15 will carry a “Skin Cancer/Aging Alert” warning. (I personally recommend that my patients use a sunscreen that is broad-spectrum and has an SPF of 30 or higher).

Another important change that is coming this year is that a sunscreen can no longer be labeled as water-proof or sweat-proof. Instead the term water resistant or sweat resistant will be used. After the term water resistant or sweat resistant, there will be a number of minutes designated. For example, if a particular sunscreen is water resistant for 40 minutes, the label may read water resistant (40 minutes). This means that the sunscreen should b e reapplied every 40 minutes.

Keep a close watch for these changes… they are coming soon to a store near you.