With the unofficial start of summer just a few days away, many people will soon be stocking up on sunscreen. The products they’ll be seeing in stores look different than they have in the past. That’s because new rules for sunscreen labels are now in effect. The changes are good ones for consumers.
The new rules, mandated by the FDA, are making sunscreen more informative with less misleading information. For example, the term “sunblock” is banned because none of these products can block all of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. “Waterproof” is also banned, replaced by “water-resistant”—which must be accompanied by a set time for reapplication. Another big change has to do with SPF, or sun protection factor.
When sunlight hits your skin, it is being exposed to ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. UVB rays are the main cause of sunburn, while UVA can prematurely age and wrinkle skin. Both contribute to skin cancer. Sunscreens vary in their ability to protect against UVA and UVB.