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More Than Skin Deep: Sunscreen Labels

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: May 03 2013 05:02:49 AM CDT
Updated On: May 03 2013 09:04:20 AM CDT

More than skin deep; sunscreen labels

With temperatures on the rise, it's time to get out the sunscreen.  If you buy a new bottle this year, it may look a little different because the FDA is changing rules for labeling sunscreen.

Spraying sunscreen on is the easy part.   Picking it out among dozens and dozens of choices is the hard part.  However the Food and Drug Administration is trying to make it easier to tell the sunscreens apart by establishing new labeling rules.

"The FDA is the organization that controls regulation of sunscreen and they realized that the labeling was all over the place and there were words like waterproof or sunblock that weren't legitimate," said Dr. Stephen Purcell, President of Advanced Dermatology Associates and Spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology.

First, sunblock can no longer be on the label because doctors say it can't actually block out the sun.

And no waterproof sunscreen?  That's right said Dr. Purcell.  "There really is no waterproof sunscreen.. It sounds like you could put it on and it's never going to come off, never shower off and it won't come off in the pool," he explained.

So now, sunscreen makers can only label it as water "resistant" for either 40 or 80 minutes, depending how long it'll stay on in water.

"We reapply but we don't know how long, so that's perfect," said shopper Crystal Meck.

The next change is what's labeled as broad spectrum.  The FDA says a sunscreen must protect against both UVA and UVB rays and be over SPF 15 in order to use the term.

Another change is that now there's a skin cancer/anti-aging alert on the back.  ""If it's SPF 15 or greater, it's an anti-aging and anti-skin cancer product, but anything below SPF 15 is only able to protect you from sunburn and doesn't carry that designation," explained Dr. Purcell.

Doctors are hoping these new rules help you stay sun safe.   Dr. Purcell said it's "Standardization that'll make it across the board and that'll make it easier for the consumer to know what to look for."

Monday, May 6th, is Melanoma Monday.  You're encouraged to wear the color orange to show support for the most deadly form of skin cancer.

This story is part of the 69 News series "More Than Skin Deep," where we're featuring stories all year about sun safety in an effort to reduce skin cancer.