Following proposals made in June last year, the final regulations, which became effective June 18, 2012, establish a standard test for over-the-counter sunscreen products that will determine which products are allowed to be labeled as ‘Broad Spectrum.’
However, to avert a shortage of sunscreen in the upcoming months, the FDA extended the compliance dates for testing and labeling until December 17, 2012 for most over-the-counter sunscreen products.
Air of optimism
Dermatologist Dr Paul Getz and his colleagues at Dundee Dermatology in West Dundee are enthusiastic about the labeling changes that are going into effect.
"In the past, the primary emphasis has been on the SPF of the product," Dr Getz says. "SPF indicates how effective the product is at blocking UVB rays, the ones that cause sunburn. It doesn't address UVA rays, which cause skin cancer and premature aging."
Now, under the new rules, a sunscreen that passes FDA tests will be labeled as "broad spectrum," followed by the SPF rating, to indicate the product's effectiveness against both types of ultraviolet rays.
Dr Tracy Campbell, Getz's colleagues at Dundee Dermatology, says this change will help consumers be better informed about what they are buying.
"When a product is marked 'broad spectrum,' buyers will know they are getting the best of both worlds," Dr Campbell says. "Previously, there had been a false sense of security created by high SPF ratings. People were assuming that they were fully protected."
Dr Morayo Adisa, another one of the doctors at Dundee Dermatology, says it's important not to assume anything about skin care routines or the products used.
"This is why I stress the importance of always consulting with a highly experienced, well-qualified dermatologist about any skin care concerns," Dr. Adisa says.
"There are so many impressive sounding words and claims of the labels of most skin care products. It's always good to consult with a dermatologist or a skin care expert who works with a dermatologist in order to cut through the hype and know you are getting the product that is the very best for your particular skin."