Changes to your sunscreen are coming, and they'll have you thinking about more than SPF when you're shopping. Proposed new rules would require that sunscreen makers clearly list how well their products protect people from UVA, a type of ultraviolet light that causes tanning and wrinkles and may cause skin cancer. Currently, the focus of labeling is on UVB, the type of ultraviolet light that causes sunburn.
The Food and Drug Administration has suggested that sunscreen labels communicate how well each product blocks UVA by showing one to four stars and a corresponding adjective that says whether it offers "low," "medium," "high," or "highest" protection from UVA. The FDA has also proposed an additional warning statement that emphasizes that sunscreen is only a partial solution to sun protection. The warning would go on all sunscreen products and would read: "UV exposure from the sun increases the risk of skin cancer, premature skin aging, and other skin damage. It is important to decrease UV exposure by limiting time in the sun, wearing protective clothing, and using a sunscreen."
In addition, the proposed rule would change the meaning of SPF from "sun protection factor" to "sunburn protection factor" and require that labels instruct people to apply sunscreens "liberally" or "generously" at least every two hours.
The FDA invites public feedback on the proposed rules and will accept comments for 90 days. After the comment period, the agency will issue a final rule that will take effect 18 months later.
The agency also invited public feedback on the use of nanoparticles in sunscreen. These tiny particles, which some sunscreens contain, may penetrate the skin and pose potential risks.