FDA Makes Changes to Sunscreen Labels

By: Anna-Lysa Gayle Email
By: Anna-Lysa Gayle Email

HARRISONBURG -- Consumers will start to see some label changes on sunscreen bottles this summer.

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration made those changes to keep people safe. One Valley doctor had some tips beyond the FDA's recommendations that could prevent many from getting skin cancer.

The FDA wants everyone to know what they are getting when they buy sunscreen in an effort to prevent skin cancer.

To make consumers more informed sunscreen users, it mandated a few changes to sunscreen labels.

Now sunscreens below a sun protection factor, or SPF, of 14 will be labeled with warnings. Water resistant sunscreens will provide users with a time that the sunscreen will wear off. Without the approval of the FDA and proper testing, sunscreens will no longer be labeled waterproof, instant protection or identified as sunblocks.

"Even though they say they are waterproof, the safest thing is to reapply it more often," said Dr. Saied Asfa, a plastic surgeon.

Dr. Asfa understands the importance of protecting the skin against sun damage.

"My patients say, 'I love sun.' That's the common phrase that we usually hear during the summertime," said Asfa.

Those patients are the ones Dr. Asfa worries about.

"Most common cancer that comes because of the sun are basil carcinoma, sequim cell carcinoma and the worst one, which is the melanoma," said Dr. Asfa.

When shopping for sunscreens, Dr. Asfa recommends looking for ones with at least an SPF 30 and ingredients like zinc oxide.

"If the sunscreen has zinc oxide added to the other materials that they have, which is mentioned on the back label, that will also heal your skin, if in case you get some sun damage,” said Dr. Asfa.

Dr. Asfa had other recommendations for sunscreen application.

"And also when you apply sunscreen you have to wait for a certain time, about 20 to 30 minutes, so your skin starts to absorb that sunscreen and starts to do that effects of the sunscreen," said Dr. Asfa.

The next time you go outside, don't forget to apply sunscreen.

Sunscreens with an SPF less than 15 will be labeled with the following warning: "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."
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