If you've ever spent time staring at the dozens of sunscreens on the store shelf, you've probably felt as overwhelmed as I have. So many choices! Hopefully, with new FDA regulations for sunscreens, choosing the right one for you and your family will be more straightforward.
When I was a little kid, I remember a bottle of SPF 8 sunscreen that smelled like coconut and lasted for several summers. Then my mom got wise and made us wear a higher protection sunscreen, SPF 15, every time we went outside. By the time I was in high school, I tried to stop the freckles spreading across my cheeks by using an even higher SPF. Vanity made me a convert to sunscreen early while my friends were still using tanning oil.
Avoiding skin damage is a good reason to use sunscreen daily and skin cancer is another reason to slather it on. The new FDA guidelines set a standard that require products to be "broad spectrum" or effective against blocking both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays cause sunburn while UVA rays cause sun damage and skin cancer. The FDA will also limit labeling to SPF 50, since there is no proof a sunscreen offers any more protection than that. Also, it will get rid of the terms "water-proof" or "sweat-proof" and set a standard for water resistance for up to 80 minutes.
Children who are sunburned are at higher risk for skin cancer later in life, so it's crucial for parents to stay vigilant. While the FDA works out the new guidelines with sunscreen manufacturers, you can look up the safety and effectiveness of your favorite sunscreen here.