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Shedding Light On Sunscreen Regulations

July 11, 2012, 6:06 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Shedding Light On Sunscreen Regulations

You might have noticed the look of sunscreen bottles is changing. That's because there are new regulations for sunscreen labels to better inform consumers.

Madelin Klamm lathers on the sunscreen before taking a dip in the pool because she knows it's important to protect her skin from the sun.

"I'm blond, so I get burned pretty bad," Klamm said.

What she doesn't know is which sunscreen provides the best protection.

"I don't know what any of that stuff is," Klamm said.

But the FDA hopes to shed light on which products are best through new regulations. That includes only allowing manufacturers to label sunscreens as broad spectrum if they protect against both Ultraviolet A and B radiation. Both can cause skin damage and cancer.

"Whereas in the past the manufacturer could use it on any product and not prove that it was broad spectrum.  And actually there were products out there that weren't broad spectrum and they had labels saying 'broad spectrum,'" Dakota Dermatology Dr. Kelly Jerstad said.

Many sunscreens also claim to be waterproof.  But what exactly does that mean? The new regulations will require them to list one of two time periods-for either 40 minutes or 80 minutes.

"The old words used to give people a false sense of security or protection--when they weren't really sweatproof or waterproof. They're just water resistant," Jerstad said.

Jerstad says despite the new regulations, people still have to dive into the information.

"If people don't know what to look for and they're just smelling it or looking at the SPF, it might not be helpful.  So hopefully they'll look for that," Jerstad said.

That is exactly what Klamm plans on doing.

"It's nice to know what you're putting on your skin,"  Klamm said.

The final regulations were set to go into affect last month.  But because of worries about sunscreen shortages in the summer, its been delayed until December.

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