The FDA has recently approved a new labeling law when it comes to the verbiage placed on sunscreen bottles. We've all seen "Waterproof", "Sunblock", "Sweat Resistant"... well, now sunscreen manufacturers will be scrambling to prove what they claim.
Sunscreen products sold on U.S. shelves will soon be required to follow a standardized labeling system that specifies which products offer the best protection and bans the terms "sunblock" and "waterproof." Under the new system, only sunscreen products that protect against both ultraviolet B (UVB) rays and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, and have an SPF of 15 or higher, will qualify to be labeled as "Broad Spectrum."
Sunscreens that meet the new test for broad spectrum protection and also are SPF 15 or above can for the first time include the statement: "Using as directed reduces the risk of early skin aging and skin cancer when used with other sun protection measures". All sunscreen products that do not meet the FDA's new standards will be required to include a warning on the label saying it has not been shown to prevent skin cancer or early skin aging.
The new labeling laws should be effective by next summer, but may begin to appear on the shelves earlier than that. Additionally, the FDA is also banning use of the word "sunblock" by sunscreen manufacturers, because it gives a false impression of the protection offered by the product. Also, no sunscreen product will be allowed to carry an SPF value higher than 50 because there is not enough data to prove that sunscreens with SPF values higher than 50 provide greater protection.
The FDA is also banning the use of the words "waterproof" and "sweat-proof" and requiring that sunscreen products claiming to be water-resistant must indicate how long the sunscreen remains effective when exposed to water. To really put it to the manufacturers, the FDA is also requiring that sunscreen products can no longer be described as offering protection for two hours or longer. Drug fact boxes must also be present on all labels.