With Memorial Day weekend behind us, we know that the summer heat has just begun. Summer months bring about a lot of fun outdoor activities, which ultimately increases a person risk for skin cancer. One way to decrease your risk is to make sure you have the right sunscreen and for many that can be a daunting task. Which UV light is the really dangerous one? Is bigger really better when it comes to SPF ratings? However, thanks to the changes made by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that task is much simpler. The new guidelines from the FDA will take all the guess work out of buying a sunscreen, giving you correct and simple information that insures your sunscreen is preventing skin cancer, sunburns, and early skin aging.
Starting in June, the new regulations for sunscreen will be in full effect! That means consumers will get accurate information about their sunscreen options that is easier to understand. All sunscreen products will have to undergo a test to determine whether they provide protection from both UVB and UVA rays. Sunscreens that pass the test will be labeled “Broad Spectrum” and “SPF 15” (Sun Protection Factor) or higher on the front and back of the package. Also, manufacturers will have to include information about other protective measures that are recommended to reduce sunburn, skin cancer, and early skin aging, such as wearing a hat, protective clothing, and instructions for directed use. The FDA is also cracking down on sunscreen that does not offer adequate protection by insuring that all products include this caution: “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: Spending time in the sun may increase you risk of skin cancer and early aging. This product has only been shown to prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early aging.”
Recommendations for sunscreen
So, what do I do with all this information? Because we now know that SPF of higher than 50 is not proven to be any better than 50, picking an SPF of 30 to 50 will give you the protection you need. Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before going out into the sun and then every 2 hours for full effectiveness. Also the amount of sunscreen is critical, so for each application you should be applying about 1 oz. (equivalent to full shot glass) and for a full day in the sun one person should be using about a fourth of an 8 oz. bottle. The Environmental Working Group has compiled a list of best sunscreens for 2012 which we strongly urge you to use when selecting your summer sun protection.
The National Women’s Health Network thanks the FDA for the new regulations on sunscreen! And I’m going to have to start buying a lot more of it!
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