Miravue supports new sunscreen regulations

The US regulator Food and Drug Administration has announced new rules for sunscreen labels. Under these new rules sunscreens  will carry a "broad spectrum" label to show they offer some protection against ultraviolet A radiation (UVA ) as well as ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation .

Though the US administration is taking steps to rectify the situation, it remains unclear in the UK, where  sunscreen bottles only show Sun Protection Factor (SPF), which only blocks UVB rays.

There are two types of ultraviolet (UV) light that could harm our skin — UVA and UVB. A broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum, sunscreen is designed to protect us from both. 

UVA rays can penetrate deeply into our skin and suppress our immune system. This increases the risk of wrinkling and age spots. UVB rays can burn our skin. Too much exposure to both UVA and UVB rays raises the risk of skin tumours, including a form of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. The best sunscreens, now prescribed by the FDA, would offer protection from all UV light. 

New FDA guidelines

The new FDA guidelines are designed to remove confusion among consumers  and will set clear guidelines for the product manufacturers.  Here is the summary of new guidelines::

  • Only sunscreens that protect against both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) light could be labeled "broad spectrum," which means they provide the best protection against skin cancer.
  • Sunscreens that don't have SPF of at least 15 would have to have big warning labels that say they don't protect against skin cancer or "premature skin aging."
  • Terms like "sunblock," "waterproof" and "sweat-proof" would be banned. Sunscreens would be permitted to claim that they are "water-resistant" but would have to specify how long they work — either 40 or 80 minutes.

While announcing these changes last year in June Janet Woodcock, MD, director of the FDA center for drug evaluation, said at a news conference. "This will allow people to make better decisions and better protect themselves from sun-induced damage."

These rules were to became effective from June 2012, when all over-the-counter and sold without a prescription sunscreen products were to be labelled as “Broad Spectrum. But looking at the possibility of a shortage of sunscreen in the initial months, FDA has extended the compliance dates for testing and labelling until Dec. 17, 2012 for most over-the-counter sunscreen products. 

The situation in the UK

A recent study by Nuffield Health has found that half of the British public do not believe they are at risk of skin cancer, with over a third saying they did not know how to identify the symptoms. 

Although everyone has heard the warnings about the link between sunburn and skin cancer, a third of people admit to getting burnt at least once a year and, even more shockingly, nearly a quarter of parents let their children get sun-burnt at least once a year. This is particularly worrying as most skin damage from UV exposure occurs before the age of twenty and can take up to thirty years to manifest.

Perhaps because the British climate is mainly cloudy and rainy, people here seem to be are more complacent than elsewhere. However the NHS advises people to wear sunscreen every day, and reapply regularly, regardless of the weather or season.

At Miravue all of our sunscreens are broad spectrum and block both types of UV and we also support new labelling rules.

We recommend a sunscreen factor of 30. And remember everyone can get sun-burnt, whether fair skinned or dark. 

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