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SPF News: FDA Releases New Sunscreen Guidelines; Expected to Affect Canada

The FDA made changes to SPF guidelines in the US in order to help consumers reduce their risks of skin cancer and early aging.
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It was a big day for SPF today in America. More than 30 years after promising changes, the Food and Drug Administration has finally created new SPF guidelines designed to help consumers reduce their risk of cancer and early aging. (Yep, it says right in the press release, "early aging," and "premature aging," too.)

The key points, which take effect in a year for the majority of sunscreen manufacturers (very small companies get an extra year):

  1. In order to claim they protect against skin cancer, SPF formulas will have to prove they're effective against UVA rays as well as UVB. UVA is the aging kind that gets you through the windows without turning your skin red. (Health Canada already requires testing for UVA protection in sunscreen sold in Canada.)
  2. Formulas with SPF 15 or higher can claim on the package that "if used regularly, as directed, and in combination with other sun protection measures will help prevent sunburn, reduce the risk of skin cancer, and reduce the risk of early skin aging."
  3. Anything with SPF 14 or lower can claim broad spectrum if they meet broad-spectrum requirements, but can't make claims about reducing risks of skin cancer and early aging.
  4. Sunscreens can't be labelled as "waterproof," "sweatproof," or "sunblock."
  5. Water-resistant sunscreen labels have to tell consumers how long they'll be protected in water (or sweat) -- either 40 minutes or 80.
  6. Sunscreens can't say they "protect on contact" or "longer than two hours without re-application" unless they submit proof to the FDA .

There's also a proposal on the table for allowing labelling no higher than SPF 50+. Manufacturers of higher-than-50 SPF formulas would have to prove their product warrants the higher rating.

Apparently, SPF in the form of wipes and powders (such as Colorescience Sunforgettable SPF mineral powder) need to provide extra documentation to prove they're as effective as other forms of sunscreen. The FDA is also examining sprays to determine their level of effectiveness as well as to find out whether they might be harmful if inhaled.

According to news reports, Health Canada has issued a statement to say they're aware of the new FDA regulations and that they're already revising our guidelines with similar changes.

For more, here's the FDA press announcement, a report by the CBC, and an Associated Press story.

And here, a short release on what the Environmental Working Group (EWG) had to say about the new guidelines: too little, and very late.

Do you think these rulings will help simplify SPF issues?