New Sunscreen Labeling Laws Will Protect You Better: Here's How

It is the time of the year when people are starting to venture out to beaches and sunscreen bottles are beginning to get stocked in supermarkets. Sun protection has been a major concern for individuals, considering the elevated risk of melanoma and other skin conditions after prolonged, unprotected exposure to the sun, and new laws have been implemented that aim at making people shop smarter and better protect themselves from the sun.

Labels on the sunscreen bottles have been quite misleading till now, especially the SPF factor. An SPF factor of more than 50 on sunscreen bottles is actually a clever marketing strategy, and often tempts people into buying the product at the first glance. Also, buying a sunscreen with an SPF of 150-200 tends to make individuals make poor decisions such as staying out in the sun for too long. What most of us don't know is that there's just a 1-2 percent extra sun protection in a sunscreen having an SPF factor more than 150, as compared to that having an SPF factor of just 50.

The Environmental Working Group, which monitored the labeling of nearly 1,400 sunscreen products found out that the word 'waterproof' on sunscreen bottles is yet another misleading factor and to put an end to this, a new rule came into effect, which involved the banishment of the word 'waterproof' from sunscreen bottles.

Another fact, which is probably unknown to most consumers purchasing a sunscreen, is that it is the UVA light that is actually responsible for the most harmful effects of sun exposure including skin cancer, premature skin ageing and more, and most sunscreens hardly provide any protection against these UVA rays.

Therefore, another rule came into effect, which emphasized that sunscreens must have both-UVA and UVB protection factors.

"The high SPF numbers are just a gimmick," Marianne Berwick, professor of epidemiology at the University of New Mexico, said. "Most people really don't need more than an SPF 30 and they should reapply it every couple of hours."

Sunscreen sprays and powders too, are suspicious, and since they account for more than 25 percent of sun-protection products in the market now, the FDA is looking into their efficiency.

"Our goal is to help consumers to make informed decisions, and use sunscreen as an important part of an overall safe sun regimen," Farah Ahmed, the chair of the Personal Care Products Council, Sunscreen Committee, said. "Sunscreen is a crucial step in the fight against skin cancer and premature skin aging. Our hope is that sun protection will become as much of a habit as putting on your seatbelt."

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