FDA advancing new regulations on sunscreen

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is advancing new regulations on sunscreen to make sure they're safe and effective. A local dermatologist says these changes are long overdue and extremely important.

Dr. Jane Lynch, owner and dermatologist at Shenandoah Dermatology, says it's been at least 20 years since sunscreen regulations have been revised like this, despite the fact that we've learned so much more about the sun and its damaging effects on skin in that time frame.

The FDA is now looking closely at the ingredients and finding out which ones are proven to be GRASE, which stands for Generally Reliable And Safe and Effective. While non-GRASE sunscreens are safe, the FDA finds they may not be as effective as sunscreens that do qualify as GRASE.

Of the ingredients looked at, Lynch said, only two qualified as GRASE, and 12 did not. Lynch says these changes are likely coming now because of consumer demand.

"People are really aware of what's going on and what they're putting on their skin," Lynch said, "and they're demanding the FDA step up to the plate and really guide them in their selection of sunscreen and sunblocks."

Other big changes include requiring clearer labeling.

Sunscreen will have to be labeled GRASE or non-GRASE. They will also have to be clearly labeled for water resistance and broad spectrum, meaning it protects against UVA and UVB radiation.

The minimum recommended "high end" SPF is being changed from SPF 50 to SPF 60.

These changes are going on now, and Lynch says they will hopefully become required within the next year.