Last summer, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new standards for the creation, testing, and labeling of over-the-counter sunscreen products containing ultraviolet A (UVA) protection. UVA rays stay at the same intensity throughout the day and the year, as opposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which are significantly stronger in summer. Previously, most of the FDA’s focus on sunscreen products involved reducing exposure to UVB light.
The new rule would include a four-star rating system on the product label -- from a low of one star to the high of four stars -- so that consumers can easily find the level of UVA protection provided by each product. The number of stars would be based on two tests: one to determine the product’s ability to reduce the UVA light passing through it, and the other to determine the product’s ability to prevent tanning. The meaning of “SPF” will change as well, from “sun protection factor” to “sunburn protection factor.”
If the rule is adopted, the maximum SPF value will increase from 30 to 50+, the highest value the FDA can verify using current testing methods. Also included would be a new “sun alert” statement and instructions emphasizing the importance of reapplying sunscreen.
The FDA is still reviewing the submitted data and is expected to issue a final rule for over-the-counter sunscreens in the near future.
Taken from the Summer 2008 issue ofLupus Nowmagazine