Sunscreen labels are changing.
Here's what you need to know to get the right protection.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established new guidelines to help you
use sunscreen to protect you and your family from the dangerous effects of the sun.
Choose a sunscreen
with broad spectrum
of SPF 15 or higher.
Broad spectrum provides
protection against both
UVA and UVB rays.
outer layers of skin,
rays penetrate deep
into skin, causing
early signs of aging.
A. For best protection, choose a sunscreen labeled broad spectrum with SPF values of 15 or higher. Use regularly and as directed. Sunscreens with SPF greater than or equal to 15 and labeled "broad spectrum" also protect against sunburn, skin cancer and premature lines and wrinkles caused by the sun.
A. SPF stands for "sun protection factor." It is a measure of how well a sunscreen can protect you from getting burned by the sun from UVB rays. For example, when you use SPF 15 sunscreen, it will take 15 times longer for the sun to burn you. However, sunscreen must be reapplied every 2 hours, more often if you are are sweating, in the water or have towel dried.
A. Use sunscreen daily, even on cloudy days and throughout the year. Apply your sunscreen generously and evenly about 30 minutes before going out into the sun.
- Lotions: Apply at least 1 ounce (golf ball size amount)
- Sprays: Apply liberally and evenly until product is visible on your skin
A. Reapply every 2 hours, more often if you are sweating, in the water or have towel dried.
A. The two big changes are around how sunscreens are tested and how they are labeled.
There are two types of dangerous rays that come from the sun, UVA and UVB rays. The new FDA rules say all sunscreens must pass a test to show if they can protect against both kinds of rays. If the sunscreen can show it protects from enough UVA and UVB rays, it will be labeled as "broad spectrum."
Following FDA guidelines, if the sunscreen is labeled broad spectrum and SPF 15 or higher, it will say that it not only protects against sunburn but can reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.
Any sunscreen that does not fully pass the test will have a warning on the label that states the product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn but will not protect against skin cancer or early signs of aging.
A. Yes, all CVS/pharmacy Brand sunscreen products provided broad spectrum protection before FDA issued the new ruling. CVS/pharmacy Brand products will continue to meet the new standards set by the FDA to provide both UVA and UVB protection.
A. You’ll start to see some sunscreens with new labels as early as April 2012. During this time, you will likely see some sunscreens with current labels next to sunscreens with the new labels as it takes some manufacturers longer to get the changes onto store shelves. If you don't see the information you're looking for, you can always ask your local pharmacist for help.
A. Yes. In most cases, the product formulations you find at CVS/pharmacy stores are already compliant with the new broad spectrum protection standard. This means the product itself won't actually change only the labeling is being updated to meet the new FDA requirements.
A. Yes, sunscreens can still protect you from the harmful effects of the sun but, with the new changes, the label can no longer say "waterproof" or "sweat proof." The new label will now indicate if the sunscreen is "water resistant" and will show on the front label if it can protect you for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while you're in the water.
A. Right now the FDA is looking at data to see if there is any extra protection from using sunscreens above 50 but has not made any decisions as of yet.
*Available online only. Expires 5/20/12 at 11:59 PM ET. Excludes Badger, Burt's Bees, La Roche-Posay & Vichy.