sunscreen

Everyone knows that sunscreen prevents sunburns. What most people don’t know is how to choose the right sunscreen for their skin.

Effective this year, the FDA in the United States is imposing new regulations for all sunscreen manufacturers. These changes are aimed at clarifying misleading sunscreen labels and strive to ensure consumers are as protected as possible. Some of the changes include the type of sunscreen, a water-resistant claim accompanied by a number indicating how long protection lasts while in water, removal of all marketing claims (i.e., sweatproof, waterproof, all-day protection, etc.), a mandatory drug facts box accompanied by a statement about how often the sunscreen needs to be reapplied, and finally, a skin cancer prevention claim.

Although these changes have yet to be formally adopted in Canada, Health Canada said it is reviewing its sunscreen rules in the wake of the FDA’s move. These changes will likely find their way to Canadian store shelves in the near future.

Over the last several years, the efficacy of sunscreen has been called into question by numerous health agencies, some going as far as suggesting that sunscreen may not prevent skin cancer but actually increase the risk. While the jury is still out on these and numerous other claims, most agencies will agree that anyone over six months of age should be using sunscreen to prevent their skin from being burned.

Selecting the right sunscreen can be a challenging and confusing task, so here are a few things to consider when purchasing sunscreen for you and your family, as suggested by WebMD:

  • Ideally, you want a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVB and UVA rays.
  • Select a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher for UVB protection. To determine which SPF to choose, take the amount of time in which you’d normally burn and multiply that number by your sunscreen’s factor number. This will give you the number of minutes you have until your skin starts to burn.
  • For children, look for kid-friendly sunscreens with an SPF 15 or higher for UVB protection. Children under six months of age are advised to stay out of the sun altogether.
  • Check the expiration date.
  • Be sure to apply it properly. Most health experts suggest applying sunscreen daily to get the best results. A minimum of two tablespoons should be applied to the whole body 15-30 minutes before you go outside. Be sure to consult the label on your sunscreen to determine how often it needs to be reapplied and aim to wear it every time you go outside.

While sunscreen can prevent sunburn when used as directed, there are additional things you can do to protect you and your family from the sun’s harmful rays, including staying in the shade as much as possible, staying indoors during peak hours, and wearing sunglasses and hats.

For more tips on how to protect you and your family from the sun this summer, check out:
http://breakingnews.ewg.org/2011sunscreen/top-sun-safety-tips/

For more information regarding the FDA’s new sunscreen regulations, click here.
http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/UnderstandingOver-the-CounterMedicines/ucm258468.htm

Additional sources:
http://dermatology.about.com/cs/skincareproducts/l/blsunscreen.htm
http://www.webmd.com/healthy-beauty/features/whats-best-sunscreen
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/new-health/conditions/health-skin-care/uva-v-uvb-health-canada-reviewing-sunscreen-rules/article2065432/

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