Best Rx: Sunscreen Labeling

Atlanta’s local doctors provide answers to all your medical questions. One Best Self reader asked: I’ve heard the government is changing the way sunscreens are labeled. What do I need to know about this?

Elizabeth Richwine, MD from Marietta Dermatology & The Skin Cancer Center: By the end of 2012, all large manufacturers of sunscreen will be required to change the way sunscreens are labeled. Look for a sunscreen that has a “broad spectrum” designation, as this means the sunscreen has passed specific testing for UVA protection and has at least an SPF of 15 or higher. Terms like “waterproof,” “sweat proof” or “sunblock” cannot be used on the label, as this overstates the sunscreen’s effectiveness. Instead, the label will indicate whether the sunscreen is water resistant for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating. This will help consumers know how often to reapply to protect themselves.

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