Still Waiting for FDA Sunscreen Rules

The FDA or Food and Drug Administration have changed their mind about issuing the long-awaited new ‘sunscreen rules.’ These new guidelines for consumers and producers of all important sun screening products were trumpeted in June and due to be laid before the public on Friday last. But now, who knows?

FDA Sunscreen Rules

The sunscreen rules aim to guide consumers with improved and up to date information about the effectiveness of non-prescription sunscreens. Apparently, the FDA will, for the first time, permit the labels on packaging to claim that sunscreens prevent possible skin cancer and early signs of old age skin. The FDA still promises that the rules will come into force in December. This should give time for makers to take them on board.

The new rules, have been under consideration for more than 30 years because the FDA has been pondering new regulations since 1978 and issued some proposals in 2007. The delay seems to be all about the labeling guidelines that may lead to too much consumer confusion.

Sweat-proof vs. Waterproof

The new rules should become effective on December 17 for big manufacturers, and 12 months later for the smaller makers. The guidelines will rule out other claims such as “sweat-proof” and “waterproof” and prohibit manufacturers from saying their products will give instant or 24-hour protection.

Can’t wait for the FDA guidelines? Then take a look at the Environmental Working Group sunscreen database which will definitely be published on Wednesday May 16. This is updated every year and provides impartial advice and information on the safety and effectiveness of over 1800 products. The EWG says, “We are baffled that FDA deems it necessary to delay such weak regulations. The agency has caved to industry pressure every step of the way.”

Big Pharma confuses consumers so it is no surprise that many are turning to specialist manufacturers’ and simpler more ‘natural’ sunscreens. The contents listed on the labels are better known and feel more comfortable. Examples are organic macadamia nuts or hemp seed oils, green tea extracts, beeswax, purified water and other unadulterated fare.

Jeffrey Dover, president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery reassuringly says that these natural sunscreens do work as long as you put on enough of the stuff. Their rule of thumb is that sunbathers use enough sunscreen to fill a shot glass.

Natural Sunscreens

The active ingredients in natural sunscreens are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Zinc oxide may whiten your skin for a short time. Both work by physically like a simple shield against the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The ASDS says that, generally speaking, natural sunscreens need much more rubbing in and early application time so that they become absorbed by your skin to be effective.

More chemical sunscreens work differently. They involve chemical blocks that actually draw in ultraviolet rays and stop them from doing serious cell damage. Avobenzone is the commonest UVA absorbing ingredient, but it has to be combined with other complex chemicals in order to stop it degrading in sunlight of all things. Oxybenzone is the commonest ingredient used to absorb UVB.

Despite many worries over the ingredients in both traditional and natural products, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention promote the use of a sunscreen with SPF 15 plus as a way to help protect skin from the sun.

Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

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