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The Changing Face of Sunscreen

Many of us have a love-hate relationship with sunscreen.  It’s allows us to be out in the warmth of the sun for hours on end enjoying the pool, running around in the yard, or whatever outdoor activity strikes our fancy.  But applying it takes time and effort.  So does re-applying it every few hours or after swimming or sweating it off.  Regardless, it seemed like a straightforward product.  Choose between oil and lotion (spray or not), a range of SPFs, and some more specific formulations that were good for “Sport” or were “Water Resistant” for swimmers.  That was it.  Seemed simple.

Not according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  In recently released final regulations covering sunscreen products, the FDA set forth a variety of measures designed to force manufacturers to adhere to certain rules so that consumers can better understand the sunscreen products they are buying.   The compliance dates were extended to December 17, 2012, so many consumers are buying or recently bought their first sunscreen products that were subject to the new rules.

So what are the new FDA measures?  The biggest change is to the meaning of “Broad Spectrum”.  Sunscreen with that term must now block UVA and UVB rays, whereas formerly most products branded with “Broad Spectrum” only protected against UVB rays.  UVA rays are now linked to premature skin aging and skin cancer.   Other changes includes ban on words like “Waterproof” or “Sweatproof”, warning labels for SPFs under 15, and a statement of the number of minutes for which the sunscreen is effective.

Spending time in the sun can be tons of fun and is an absolute must for swimming pool owners.  But remember to protect yourself from early skin aging, skin cancer risk, and sunburns with a combination of sun protection measures: apply sunscreen as directed, limit sun exposure during peak UV times (10 am to 2 pm), and protect skin with clothing or patio umbrellas.

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