While most people slather on sunscreen when headed to the beach, those of us who love outdoor winter sports think about sunscreen all year long—even in the dead of winter. That’s because the sun’s incessant UV rays, will fry your unprotected skin to a crisp. But when your outside at higher elevations, skin damage happens even quicker compared to at sea level.
In fact, it’s not uncommon to take the chairlift up just a few times and soon notice a rosy glow on your nose and cheeks. That’s why it’s critical to use sunscreen regularly and reapply frequently.
Recent FDA regulations have changed sunscreen labeling and testing requirements, says David Erickson, president of Rocky Mountain Sunscreen. His company has made sunscreen now for 20 years and it plays a major sun safety role in the winter sports arena.
The recent FDA changes mean sunscreen manufactures must comply with new and more stringent FDA testing and labeling protocols by June 18, 2012. “We have waited a long time and are glad to see these changes coming from the FDA. It clarifies and substantiates the safety of today’s sunscreen ingredients and eliminates a lot of false marketing claims that had no formal FDA testing criteria,” Erickson says.
Because of all the FDA changes, Erickson says it’s important that retailers avoid stocking up on too much sunscreen product. “The last thing you want is excess inventory on store shelves come June 18, the FDA final rule compliance date. Even though you can still sell sunscreen with the current labeling, consumers may prefer the new, broad spectrum labeling.”
Here’s what you may not know about sunscreen and the new FDA final rule.
1. Watch for the words Broad Spectrum Protection, a term that signifies a product protects the skin from both UVA and UVB rays.
2. Sunscreens that pass the SPF test of 15 or greater must have a drug facts box.
3. How high can SPF values go? Until the FDA makes a final decision, that’s a question that still remains.
4. Sun damage is often invisible to the naked eye. That is, unless you have a UV Skin Damage Camera, a special camera that sees those brown spots that you can’t see. Want to know what the sun has done to your skin? Then make an appointment with your local dermatoloigist for a skin cancer check.
5. Gone are the days with claims like “all day protection.” Now labels will clearly state, “Sunscreen must be re-applied every 2 hours.” Look for it in the drug fact box.
6. Other words nixed by the FDA: Waterproof, sweatproof, sunblock and instant protection.
7. The SPF value protects against UVB rays, the harmful rays associated with burning.
8. Water resistant formulas must now specify the protection factor in terms of minutes. Watch for Water Resistant 40 minutes and 80 minutes.
9. Want to know one of the best products to combine with your anti-aging regiment? If you use sunscreen, then you already know. And to back up the claim, sunscreen manufacturers have the green light to say it with this FDA approved statement, “When used as directed, this sunscreen helps prevent skin cancer and early skin aging.”
10. And one other bonus—sunscreen just may save your life. But always add hats, sunglasses and sun safety clothing when soaking up the sun.