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Sunscreen Labels to Provide More Information

Update Date: May 11, 2013 12:34 PM EDT

With summer right around the corner, people will be planning weekend trips to the beach. Whether or not you are sitting on the sand or talking a leisurely stroll in your neighborhood, putting on sunscreen should be a daily routine. Protecting the skin from the sun is essential in preventing skin cancer, damage and also premature wrinkly skin. However, oftentimes, sunscreen bottles come with several phrases that people might not understand. Due to the lack of information, people might be buying sunscreen that might not be protecting them from dangerous sunrays. Fortunately for consumers, sunscreen labels have been revised to educate people about the uses of the products.

One of the new requirements include informing consumers about the level of protection. Sunscreen bottles must state whether or not the products protect against skin cancer and sunburn. Another requirement is that sunscreen labels must tell consumers whether or not it is water resistant. The phrases 'waterproof' or 'sweatproof' are no longer allowed to be used due to their misleading connotations. Furthermore, sunscreen products that did not meet the latest U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) testing requirements must include a warning label that lists all of the limitations that the product has.

In order to help consumers, the American Academy of Dermatology has created a list of requirements that people should look for on the new sunscreen labels. First, people should look for the 'broad spectrum' label, which means that the product can protect the skin from both UVB and UVA rays. Second, people should ideally purchase products with SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or above. The FDA recommends SPF 15 or above. Third, people should look for water-resistant sunscreen products that last up to 40 or 80 minutes. Aside from sunscreen products, the academy reminds people to avoid tanning beds and to remember to wear protective clothing and remain under the shade.

"Sunscreen has always been an important tool in the fight against skin cancer, and these new regulations will greatly improve the consumer's ability to make smart decisions -- at a glance -- about a product's effectiveness simply by reading the label," dermatologist Dr. Zoe Draelos, a consulting professor at the Duke University School of Medicine, said. "Everyone, regardless of skin color, can get skin cancer, which is why it is important for people to properly protect themselves from the sun's harmful rays."

The regulations took effect last December, so the labels should all be new and improved. 

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