FDA rolling out new labeling guidelines for sunscreen - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

FDA rolling out new labeling guidelines for sunscreen

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

The FDA is rolling out new sunscreen regulations.  The goal is for sunscreen labels to give you a better idea of how much protection products offer.

Elizabeth Fuller is fair skinned and comes to the beach prepared.

"It really hurts my skin every time I see somebody who's just burned bright red," Fuller said.

That's why she applies sunscreen with an SPF of at least 50, topped off with tanning oil.  But the labels of all the stuff you spray and slather on are changing.

"The rising rates of melanoma, which is a life-threatening cancer, is the reason we're putting more emphasis on sun exposure," said Dr. Cassandra Foens with Covenant Cancer Treatment Center.

That emphasis also includes the products that protect you from the sun.  So sunscreen makers will soon have to quit using the terms sunblock, waterproof, and sweatproof.

"The FDA felt the term waterproof was misleading, that people thought, 'Well I can just put on a waterproof sunscreen and I don't have to do anything the rest of the day because it won't go away.'  Water resistant, which means it will last two hours in the water, is now the proper terminology," Dr. Foens said.

Originally, the FDA wanted all sunscreen labels to change this summer.  But manufacturers needed more time to make the changes, so the new requirements will now kick in at the end of this year.  That means right now, you'll see a mix of both old and new labels on store shelves.

The biggest thing to know:  look beyond the SPF to know how much protection the product offers.

"The SPF number only measures the UVB, which is actually the burning ray.  UVA has never been measured and has never been recommended.  UVA is what causes skin aging and skin cancer.  So that's the reason the FDA is saying, 'Hey.  We need some guidance about not only about UVB protection, but also UVA protection," said Dr. Foens.

That's called "broad spectrum" coverage.

Don't forget when you're out catching some rays-- re-apply sunscreen every two or three hours to maximize protection.

Experts say if you notice any changes to your skin, including changes in shape or color of moles, it's best to see a doctor to check for skin cancer.

You can learn more about the change to sunscreen labeling from the FDA by clicking here.

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