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2012 Sunscreen Guide: Choosing the Best Sunscreen, New FDA Rules, and How to Avoid (and Check for) Skin Cancer


Lately there’s been a silly amount of silly moms in the news, like the “Human Barbie” from England who gave her young daughter an IOU for Botox, or the New Jersey “tanorexic” who allegedly let her five-year-old daughter use a tanning bed. You can’t make this stuff up.

Speaking of tanning, the FDA is making some silly moves as well. (How about that segue?) After announcing smart new testing and labeling regulations for sunscreen earlier this year, they pushed back the compliance deadline from June to December after manufacturers complained that they wouldn’t have enough time to re-label, which would cause a sunscreen shortage at the height of summer. Of course, it’s more likely that the new labeling will simply hurt sales, and the corporate powers-that-be wanted one more summer to cash out. It’s not like they have to reformulate the product. They just have to be honest about what it can (and can’t do); how long can that take, really? But I digress: While labels won’t reflect the new standards this summer, you can still keep them in mind when shopping for sunscreen.

The new regulations are intended to make it easier to buy the right sunscreen and use it correctly by eliminating misleading words from product labels. By the end of this year, sunscreen manufacturers will no longer be allowed to designate their products as “sunblock,” “waterproof,” or “sweat proof.” Only products that protect against both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays can be labeled “broad-spectrum,” and of those, only SPF 15 and higher can claim to reduce risk of skin cancer. Find the complete list of regulations at www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm258416.htm.

For help choosing the safest sunscreen for kids, visit the Environmental Working Group’s 2012 Sunscreen Guide (http://breakingnews.ewg.org/2012sunscreen).

» Check for skin cancer and compare benign/malignant moles here
» How to protect your baby (and you) against sunburn
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