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New Rules Restrict, Clarify Sunscreen Claims

[This article was updated on May 14 to note change of effective date of new regulations.]

“The next time you shop for sunscreen, look for products labeled Broad Spectrum SPF 15 (or higher),” says LIUNA General Secretary-Treasurer and LHSFNA Labor Co-Chairman Armand E. Sabitoni, kicking off the Fund’s annual Sun Sense Skin Cancer Prevention Campaign.

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LIUNA General Secretary-Treasurer and LHSFNA Labor Co-Chairman Armand E. Sabitoni

“We’re pleased that the Food and Drug Administration has announced new regulations for sunscreen product labeling,” explains Sabitoni. “Products with the Broad Spectrum SPF 15 designations provide protection against both ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) and ultraviolet A radiation (UVA). Both UVB and UVA can cause sunburn, skin cancer and premature skin aging.”

The new regulations apply to many products that contain sunscreen, including certain moisturizers and cosmetics. Originally set to take effect June 1, 1012, the effective date of the regulations was moved to December 2012 for major manufacturers and to December 2013 for small manufacturers.

Sun Sense Campaign Kicks Off

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and the kickoff for the LHSFNA’s annual Sun Sense Cancer Prevention Campaign. Lip balm, neck flaps, towelettes, health alerts and posters in English and Spanish are available (see product sheet below) to LIUNA training centers and local unions by using the Sun Sense Order Form. Contact the Fund’s Health Promotion Division for further information.

Click image to enlarge.

In addition, the Fund is pleased to offer a 30% discount to members who shop online at Solar Protective Factory, Inc., which offers sun protection products ranging from sun protective clothing, sunglasses, swimwear, and sunscreen to sun protective accessories. Go to and enter discount code LHSF30 at checkout to receive the 30% discount. This discount is in addition to any sale priced products, will be honored through December 31, 2012 and can be used as often as someone would like.

What the FDA regulations mean:

  • Broad Spectrum designation. Sunscreen products that pass the broad spectrum test are allowed to be labeled as “Broad Spectrum.” These sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Scientific data demonstrated that products that are “Broad Spectrum SPF 15” (or higher), in addition to helping prevent sunburn, have been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging when used with other sun protection measures. Other sun protection measures include limiting time in the sun and wearing protective clothing.
  • Use claims. Only Broad Spectrum sunscreens with an SPF value of 15 or higher can claim to reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging (if used as directed with other sun protection measures). Non-Broad Spectrum sunscreens and Broad Spectrum sunscreens with an SPF value between 2 and 14 can only claim to help prevent sunburn.
  • “Waterproof,” “sweatproof” or “sunblock” claims. Sunscreens cannot make these claims as they overstate their effectiveness. Sunscreens also cannot claim to provide sun protection for more than two hours without reapplication or to provide protection immediately after application (“instant protection”) without first obtaining FDA approval.
  • “Water resistance” claims. The sunscreen must indicate whether this effectiveness is for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating. Sunscreens that are not water resistant must include instructions to use water resistant sunscreen if swimming or sweating.
  • Drug facts. All sunscreens must include standard “Drug Facts” information on the back and/or side of the container.

FDA video links:

Sunscreen: Stronger Rules, Better Protection

How Sunscreen Works

[Janet Lubman Rathner]

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