The FDA has changed the monograph for cosmetics products containing sunscreen.
As an industry professional I have known this was coming for a while, but consumers are only just now being made aware of the new laws. The laws, while already enacted, have had a delay in being obviously obeyed as manufacturing companies have had time to reorganize their logistics. Effective December 17, however, all SPF products must be in compliance with the new law.
Canada has not yet changed their sunscreen laws but it is widely expected they will adopt very similar rules soon. The new regulations are being praised by dermatologists and consumer advocacy groups as a great stride in preventing confusion and misuse of sunscreens.
Here is an overview of the new laws that took effect in June:
"Sunblock" is no longer a legal description. Sunscreen will be the only legal description as to the activity level of an SPF. Sunblock implies an action that an SPF cannot actually provide as no SPF blocks 100% of UV radiation.
"Waterproof" is no longer a legal description. SPF products have never been waterproof as they will eventually break down in water. "Water resistant" is allowed and the maximum time an SPF can actually work in water is 80 minutes.
"SPF 4, 8, 10 or 12" will no longer be allowed to be advertised as a skin care prevention product. Only SPF 15 or higher can make this claim.
"SPF 60, 80 100, 100+" will no longer be allowed on packages. The maximum a sunscreen can advertise is SPF 50+. After SPF 15 the protection level is about the same anyway so anything listing high SPF numbers has been very misleading for consumers.
It will now be illegal for any type of towelette, wipe, spray, powder, body wash, or shampoo to advertise an SPF rating. The only exceptions to this are manufacturers of such products that have submitted independent studies, to the FDA, proving that the product can actually filter UV radiation.
No SPF can be advertised to work longer than 2 hours without application. The only exceptions to this are manufacturers of such products that have submitted independent studies, to the FDA, proving that the product can actually filter UV radiation.
These new laws will certainly help the consumer better understand and use SPF products. This move is a step in the right direction. Next I would like to see cosmetics products like foundations and moisturizers banned from advertising SPF ratings as well. But that is another post altogether...