Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced new regulations for labeling sunscreen and other sun-blocking products. The familiar SPF categorization will still exist in an updated capacity, but will be joined by a new label, "Broad Spectrum." Companies will have up to two years, depending on annual sales, to comply with the FDA testing and update their labels accordingly.
Distributors who sell skincare products will need to know what the new regulations mean and how they may affect their business. Working with federally regulated products while creating customized products requires attention to detail as well as adherence to FDA guidelines, and it is important for promotional products professionals to learn the laws and terminology to protect themselves and their clients.
What are the new regulations?
Starting next year, sun block with the appropriate amount of UVA and UVB protection will be labeled as Broad Spectrum, indicating that it protects against premature aging and skin cancer as well as sunburn. Sunscreens that only protect against sunburn will not have the Broad Spectrum designation.
Sunscreen with SPF 2 to 14 will need to indicate on the packaging that the product has not be shown to help prevent skin cancer or aging. Labels will also need to indicate whether they are water-resistant and for how long, and display usage directions.
In addition, the FDA has proposed a rule that would limit SPF rankings to "50+" and is "currently reexamining the safety information available for active ingredients included in sunscreens marketed today." These proposals, while unlikely to have an impact by next year, may lead to further labeling and testing requirements down the line.
SPF? Broad Spectrum? UVA and UVB? What does it all mean?
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) has been the standard for sunscreen since the 1960s, but as scientists learn more about the way sun exposure works, it's become necessary to expand product testing and reporting. The addition of the Broad Spectrum classification will allow manufacturers to better detail what kinds of skin damage the lotion protects against.
Related story: FDA Announces New Sunscreen Labeling and Testing Regulations