Beginning next summer the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is changing sunscreen labels to make it easier for you to pick a product that offers the protection level you want. The labels will clearly tell whether a sunscreen protects against sunburn, skin cancer and signs of premature skin aging; and whether it is a broad spectrum product.
Broad spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher will protect against all three. Anything less than 15 SPF will only protect against sunburn and soon will be labeled with a warning that reads "Skin cancer/skin aging alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging". Future labels will also include information on how much time a user can expect to get the declared SPF level of protection while swimming or sweating.
Spending time in the sun increases the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. To reduce this risk, consumers should regularly use sun protection measures including:
- Use sunscreens with broad spectrum SPF values of 15 or higher regularly and as directed.
- Limit time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense.
- Wear clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun; for example, long-sleeved shirts, pants, sunglasses, and broad-brimmed hats.
- Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours, more often if you’re sweating or jumping in and out of the water.