This summer will see the biggest overhaul of Sunscreen labelling since the SPF standard was introduced in 1993. The US FDA plans to clarify and ensure that consumers have clear information on sunscreens this summer. Currently, SPF only measures UVB protection but not UVA. UVB is responsible for burning – remember “B” for burn, while UVA is aging – again “A” for aging. But both are responsible for skin cancers. So if the sunscreen does not say “Broad Spectrum” you may not be fully protected. “That’s the objective of the new FDA labelling” says Michelle Snyder, VP of Global Product Development for SkinCeuticals.

With the new labelling, the sunscreens will only be “Water-Resistant”. No longer can they be labelled as waterproof or sweat-proof, and manufacturers must clearly indicate how often the product must be applied to be effective.

The third change relates to SPF – the maximum effective SPF will be 50+ as there is no scientific evidence that higher SPF provides any additional benefit. Also, products must warn if they are less than SPF 15.

Sunscreens provide 2 types of protection from UVA and UVB radiation – either physical or chemical. Physical sunscreens using fine inert mineral particles, such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or iron oxide to protect against UVA and UVB. Early mineral sunscreens were pasty – recall Aussie cricketers with coloured paste! New physical sunscreens are sophisticated products which leave virtually no residue due to the micro-particle formulation. Chemical sunscreens contain one or more of synthetic compounds such as PABA, Parsol and Mexoryl to protect against UVA and UVB. Chemical sunscreens need to be re-applied frequently to maintain protection.

So, this summer make sure that you are PROTECTED! In the UK around 100,000 and in the US 2 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year!