The Food and Drug Administration in America recently issued some new rules to help clarify the confusion that comes with sunscreen labeling, dispelling many false advertising claims. For example, sunscreens should no longer go under the name of “sunblock,” since the lotion does no such thing. However, these rules may take up to two years to take effect, so it is best to be informed now. If you and your family are spending a lot of time in the sun this summer, you may want to double-check the labels on your bottle.
The sun emits two types of rays: UVA and UVB. Both can cause skin cancer, but UVA causes wrinkling, while UVB burns. SPF numbers are only attributed to protection against UVB rays and have no relation to UVA. New sunscreen may only include the phrase “broad spectrum” on their label if they provide equal protection against both types of rays. Only sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher may label that they protect users against skin cancer and premature aging.
In addition, SPF ratings are based upon an amount that is up to four times more than what an average consumer uses, so slather up for adequate protection. Dermatologists say that sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, and immediately after being in the water. Sunscreens that claim to be “waterproof” or “sweat proof” are also false – new sunscreen labels will instead inform consumers how long the lotion is water-resistant for.
As for SPF ratings, dermatologists recommend using “broad spectrum” lotions between 30 and 50. Anything higher adds no more meaningful protection, and risks adding an unnecessary amount of chemicals into your system.
Annie Wang is 17 years old. A former International School of Beijing student, she currently boards at Choate Rosemary Hall in the US, while her parents still base themselves in Beijing. Annie loves good food, finding new places to explore, and her favorite subject in school is English.