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Sunscreen bottles, labels to see big changes

August 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Whether you worship it, play in it, or work in it, you should protect your skin from it. Tori Guerrini, who uses sunscreen, takes sun safety seriously.

"I had a grandma who passed away of malignant melanoma," says Guerrini.

But like most others, she's in the dark about big changes coming to sunscreen bottles.

"The changes actually are a very important one," said Dr. Henry W. Lim, chairman of dermatology at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Mich.

Lim says sunscreen rules are currently in place for ultraviolet-B (UVB), which primarily causes sunburn, but not ultraviolet-A (UVA), which can lead to wrinkles and skin cancer. The upcoming changes mean sunscreens will have to pass a UVA and an SPF protection test to carry the label "broad spectrum."

"Right now, there are products out there on the market that say 'broad spectrum sunscreen,'" says Lim.

Only sunscreens SPF 15 or higher that pass the test can claim to reduce the risk of early skin aging and skin cancer. Another big change is that sunscreens will no longer be able to claim to be water or sweat proof. Look for brands that are water resistant for 40 or 80 minutes. And remember, keep covering your skin with sunscreen throughout the day.

"It has to be re-applied every two hours if one participates in outdoor activities," said Lim.

Also make sure you're using enough. You'll need about an ounce of lotion to cover your entire body every two hours.

The new rules were slated to go into effect this summer, but they were pushed back to December for most manufacturers after they claimed they weren't given enough time to comply.

Lim recommends people use sunscreens that are SPF 30 to SPF 50. He says beyond that, there is a very small increase in UV protection.

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