Important FDA Sunscreen Regulation Info

I got some important info about the FDA and sun protection that I thought I absolutely must share with you guys. Sun protection is so important! Not just for vanity, but for your health. Yes a little sun can be good for you, but melanoma is very serious and I love you all and want you to have all the information you can about good sun protection.

The FDA is currently in the final planning stages of a new regulation for how sun protection products are labeled. Right now, the only required labeling is SPF, or “sunburn protection factor”. Here’s the thing about that– SPF only refers to UVB rays. There are no regulations in place that require products to disclose information about their UVA protection. Most products out there on the market do not protect you adequately, and are therefore leaving you exposed. UVA rays actually penetrate deeper than UVB rays do and can cause cancer and all the other unpleasantness (skin discoloration, wrinkles, etc). The FDA is working on getting a system in place that rates sun protection from UVA rays based on a 4-star rating, and requires all sunscreen products to display this label in addition to SPF information.

We talk a lot about avoiding sunburn, but it’s very important to remember that sun damage can be caused even if you are not sunburned. So if you are one of those people who never wears sunscreen but insists “oh, I never burn so it’s okay!” (ahem. mr boyfriend, I’m looking at you!) – guess again. The best way to avoid dangerous UVA and UVB rays is to use a sunscreen that contains physical sunblock. These are the ones made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They block out more of the harmful UV radiation than chemical sunscreens (and as a side note, they are a lot more gentle on sensitive skin – chemical sunscreens break me out like crazy!).

A few years ago when I consulted a dermatologist for advice on my skin, he advised that I should always wear an SPF 30. I was surprised at the time because I figured for someone as pale as me, he’d recommend a higher SPF. Keep in mind that I knew very little about sunscreen back then. “There are tons of sunscreens out there that advertise SPF 50, SPF 70, and even SPF 100! Why isn’t he recommending these to me?” I remember thinking. Well, it turns out the FDA only recognizes SPF of up to 30. The testing for anything above 30 is inaccurate and “inherently misleading”, to quote the FDA.

Here’s a fact that blew my mind: SPF 15 protects from 95% of the sun’s UVB rays, and when you go up to SPF 30, you only gain 1% more protection. Crazy, right? The FDA considers anything above an SPF 30 to be purely a marketing ploy to lull consumers (like me! I admit it!) into a false sense of security. Scary stuff.

Fortunately for us there are sunscreens available that provide adequate protection. The downside is that many of these products are European and therefore expensive or hard to find here in the U.S. Two very popular brands are Bioderma and Avene, both available from the extremely informative skin-beautiful.com. Hopefully we can look forward to more brands in the U.S. following suit in the future as the FDA regulations come into effect! One company that is already making great strides in sun care is Dermagenics, a CA-based company whose Sun-Savvy Solar Shield provides 95% protection against both UVB and UVA rays.

I hope that information was helpful! I don’t often get all warm and fuzzy and/or soapboxy on my blog, but I care about my readers– this info has to be told!

This article made possible with helpful info from Dermagenics and Skin-Beautiful.com, but I was not sponsored in any way.

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