Does Sunblock Really Block the Sun?

SunscreenYou might be surprised to hear that this year will be the last year you’ll be able to buy a product that calls itself a waterproof sunblock. This is because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just passed new policies about how sunscreen products must be labeled.

  • Sunscreen companies can’t call their products “sunblocks” or say they are sweatproof or waterproof, because it’s not completely true. Now the product label must state whether the product can resist water for either 40 or 80 minutes.
  • In order to be labeled a “broad spectrum” sunscreen, it now must provide equal protection against both of the cancer-causing UVA and UVB rays (UVA causes wrinkles and UVB causes burns).
  • Sunscreens that are under SPF 15 can no longer say that they reduce the risk of aging and skin cancer, just sunburns.

So, what do the experts have to say about all this? Dermatologists (skin doctors) recommend that we buy sunscreen products that are labeled “broad spectrum”, between 30 and 50 SPF, and apply them every 40 or 80 minutes. Another thing dermatologists say is that any product over SPF 50 (such as SPF 70 or 100) doesn’t offer that much more protection than a SPF 50, so it’s not worth spending the extra money.

So, if you plan on spending a lot of time outside this summer, be sure to follow the doctors orders. Don’t become another of the two million + Americans that are treated for skin cancer each year.

-Brooke, CYWH Summer Intern