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The Truth Behind Sunscreen: SPF According to the FDA

May 23, 2012

The Truth Behind Sunscreen: SPF According to the FDA

When was the last time you read the label on your sunscreen? I’m not just talking about the big print on the front with the SPF rating, but the entire label, front to back? I’m guessing that it’s been a while. I’m sure most people don’t think the differences between sunscreens are that extreme. But if your sunscreen is advertising with words like “waterproof” or “sunblock,” think again – these words are misleading consumers into thinking that sunscreen is a one-stop-shop for sun protection, and that is just absolutely untrue. There is no sunscreen that can fully block the sun’s rays, and every sunscreen needs to be reapplied no matter how resistant to water it claims to be. In fact, the FDA declared many years ago that these terms were to be banned from all sunscreen advertisements by this summer! However, if you check out your local drug store, it’s likely that those words will still be popping out at you in brightly colored, bolded font. Sunscreen manufacturers claimed to be unable to meet their given deadline due to a fear of causing a summer shortage by withholding products with misleading labels, so the companies have been given an extended deadline in mid-December.

The fact of the matter is that sunscreen is not a miracle product that completely prevents skin cancer. If your sunscreen is less than SPF 15, it protects skin from sunburns but does nothing to combat wrinkles or skin cancer, including Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer as well as the fastest growing form of cancer in the United States. The new labels mandated by the FDA will say that; current labels don’t, leaving consumers with only misguiding information that could leave families unprotected from the severe effects of prolonged sun exposure.

The FDA’s new regulations, supposedly taking effect on June 18th, 2012 but now extended to December 17th, require a standard test for over-the-counter sunscreen products, and only those that pass this test will be allowed to label their products as “Broad Spectrum.” Products that are labeled as such will protect against both UVA and UVB rays, the harmful rays that are to blame for nasty sunburns as well as the long-term damage that ages skin and causes skin cancer.  Anything that does not receive the “Broad Spectrum” label or any product with an SPF rating of 2-14 protects only against sunburn, doing nothing to prevent any long-term sun damage.

The new rules also necessitate that all sunscreens claiming to be water resistant on the front label must have an accompanying limit on the amount of time between reapplications; the brands can either say 40 minutes or 80 minutes, based on the degree of protection their product supplies. In addition, no manufacturer can claim that their product has immediate effects (ex – “instant protection from the sun!”) or that their product lasts for more than two hours without submitting data and getting specific approval from the FDA.

So, what can you do to really protect yourself and your family from the UVA/UVB rays that cause immediate and permanent damage to skin? The FDA recommends wearing clothing to cover skin, which means wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeved shirts and pants. Nobody wants to go into the sun with the feeling of heavy cloth sticking to their skin while they are trying to enjoy a pleasant day outside. That’s why Sun Protection Zone’s variety of UV Protective Clothing is so unique and so beneficial!

The innovative fabrics that SPZ uses to create their clothing lines are water resistant, wicking, quick-drying, and stretchy to allow for a free range of movement and the cooling effects that other fabrics lack. SunSkinz, ActiveSkinz, and GreenBeanz all provide comfortable, fashionable protection from the sun for kids and adults alike. Our innovative clothing, hats, sunglasses, and accessories get the job done, protecting from the sun. No misleading buzz words. Just revolutionary products with proven protective results.

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