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1. What is the new information regarding sunscreen?

After decades of considering stronger sunscreen regulations and years of strong encouragement by Sen. Jack Reed, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally announced new regulations that will require comprehensive testing and prevent misleading information from appearing on the labels of sunscreen products. Under the new requirements, all sunscreen products sold in the U.S. will be tested and appropriately labeled for both UVA and UVB protection. The new regulations will also prevent the makers of these products from marketing their sunscreens with unproven claims (e.g., “waterproof,” “sweatproof,” “all day protection”).

2. What did Senator Jack Reed do?

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) has kept this important public health issue at the forefront by continuing to push the FDA for stronger sunscreen standards. After years of prodding, the FDA has finally agreed to exact tougher standards on the makers of sunscreen products.

3. How is this important to me?

Proper protection from the sun’s harmful rays is an important public health issue. Consumers should be confident that the sunscreen products they purchase are safe and effective, so they may better protect themselves and their families.

4. How do I protect myself and my children from the harmful effects of the sun?

Until the new regulations take effect, it’s important to choose a sunscreen that addresses both UVA and UVB rays, and to reapply the sunscreen often when outdoors. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, sunscreen active ingredients that provide both UVA and UVB protection include:

Avobenzone
Cinoxate
Ecamsule
Menthyl Anthranilate
Octyl Methoxycinnamate
Octyl Salicylate
Oxybenzone
Sulisobenzone
Titanium Dioxide
Zinc Oxide

It’s also important to remember to wear sun-protective clothing, such as wide-rimmed hats, sunglasses, and long-sleeved shirts.

5. Why is it so important to get protection from the sun’s rays?

Unprotected sun exposure can cause premature aging of skin, increasing wrinkles and sunspots on skin. It can also increase chances of skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the U.S. It’s important to also note that indoor tanning can pose a health risk as well. Studies have shown a 75-percent increase in the risk of developing melanoma in those who use indoor tanning beds.

6. Are UVA and UVB rays really that harmful?

While sunburns are primarily caused by UVB rays, both UVB and UVA rays can cause skin cancer and early skin aging (e.g., wrinkling). The American Academy of Dermatology offers a helpful way to remember this difference, describing UVA rays as “aging rays” and UVB rays as “burning rays.”