FDA requires sunscreens to have better details on labels

Have you ever really looked at the label of your bottle of sunscreen? You see the SPF number on the front, but what does that really mean when it comes to protecting your skin? The Food and Drug Administration is trying to clear up the confusion and has required manufacturers to put more detailed labels on their products by next summer.

The Skin Cancer Foundation says than 2 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year and the American Cancer Society says squamous cell carcinomas kill 2,500 Americans a year and melanoma kills 8,700.

According to USA Today, the FDA first proposed changing sunscreen labels in 1978. The new labels should list which products offer "broad protection" from both major forms of ultraviolet radiation, or UV. New sunscreen labels will allow products to claim "broad spectrum" protection only if they pass specific FDA tests for blocking UVA rays, and if they have an SPF value of at least 15, says Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation. This is the first standard for UVA.

Products that don't protect against UVA, or which have an SPF of less than 15, will have to carry a warning, noting that they don't protect against skin cancer, Woodcock says. Sunscreens also will have to carry a "drug facts" box that provides detailed more detailed information about sun protection.

Under the new rule, sunscreens will no longer be allowed to be marketed as "sun block," "sweat proof" or "water proof," according to USA Today research. Scientists say sunscreens will be allowed to list only whether they are "water resistant" for either 40 minutes or 80 minutes.

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What SPF do you use? Do you use a different number for your children?