Friday, June 29, 2012

Health Alert: New Sunscreen Guidelines

Sorry for the weird colors, blogger is messed up.

Now trust me, this is something you all need to hear.  If you like your skin, and don't want cancer, then your going to want to pay extra close attention.  The FDA has been after sunscreen companies for a while now.  Why?  Because sunscreen companies have not been honest.  They have not been honest concerning the degree of protection that their sunscreens claim to provide.  

The FDA ordered that changes be made by this month (June 2012), so that we don't all get fried with cancer-causing sun rays this summer.  Well, the sunscreen manufactures came crawling back complaining that they were having a hard time meeting the deadline, so last month in May, the FDA granted them a 6 month extension until this December 2012.  Perfect timing, right as the world ends right?  Some smaller companies have even longer, until December of 2013.  The FDA worried that holding companies to the original deadline would result in sunscreen shortages this summer.

What is it that the FDA wants to be made clear about sunscreens?  Here you go:

The sun emits rays in 2 different wavelengths.  A and B.  There is a big difference between these two.

  • UV-A rays:  Causes premature aging&wrinkling. Contributes to and initiates skin cancer
  • UV-B rays:  Plays key role in skin cancer

Don't believe that the sun causes premature aging?  Here's the picture of the trucker who always had the sun on the left side of his face (without any sunscreen).  The wrinkles were caused by UVA rays.

What else?

  • Sunscreen companies can no longer claim their lotions to be waterproof or sweatproof, only water and sweat resistant.  This is so people know that sunscreens have to be reapplied frequently when you are sweating or swimming (the protection washes off quickly). 

What is the FDA is not asking these companies to do is to reformulate their sunscreens.  What they are asking them to do is to change their labeling about the real protection their sunscreens really offer.  The delay is due to the time it takes them to revise package labeling, especially on smaller packages that now will have to fit extra information about just what protection is offered.

What will the NEW regulations mean for us?

You want protection against both UVA and UVB rays.  Once the new rules are in place, any sunscreen labeled "broad spectrum" will offer both, but until then, there's no guarantee behind that wording.

Once the new rules are in place, sunscreens with less than an SPF of 15 or that aren't "broad spectrum" will have to carry a warning label: "This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging."

If it still says "waterproof," it was bottled under the old rules. Once the new rules are in place, the sunscreens will have to say how long they're water-resistant.

So, what sunscreen should you get?

Sun bathers and outdoor enthusiasts should beware of harmful ingredients found in many sunscreens. According to recent CNN article, only "25 percent of 800 tested sunscreens" are safe.  That means that 600 out of 800 sunscreens tested were NOT safe.

 To make that safe list, sunscreens had to be “free of oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate (a type of vitamin A), not have SPF above 50 and protect against UVA and UVB sunrays.

According to Experts, you need to get:

  • An SPF of 25-30, but nothing below 25.  Always use less than SPF 50.
  • Sunscreens that contain either zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or both. Those are the two safest ingredients,  they are physical barriers, not just chemical barriers, and they block both UVA and UVB rays.  Don't get any other active chemical ingredients.
  • Getting a true SPF coverage means making sure skin is getting completely covered, which often takes 2 coats of sunscreen.  (It can be very easy to miss a spot, and that's all you need for cancer to start.)
  • Avoid oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate (a type of vitamin A)
  • Avoid direct sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. That's because the most significant amount of UVB hits the U.S. between these times.
If you weren't paying attention, here's a little something to scare you into wearing sunscreen: