Sunscreen: New Rules Shine Light on Labels

Creams, sprays, gels and sticks. There are many options in the sunscreen aisle. If you’re confused about which to choose, take heart—and prepare to slather up.

New federal labeling rules go into effect this summer. And, they should make it easier for you to choose the best sun protection.

Truth in Sunscreen Labeling

The rules say when labels may state that a product lowers the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. To make these claims, a product—when used as directed—must:

  • Have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
  • Be “broad-spectrum.” This means it’s proven to guard against ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation.

Sun - Chris Byrnes, LLCUVB rays are mostly to blame for sunburns. But, UVA rays also contribute. And, both types raise the risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging. So, it’s important to have broad-spectrum protection.

Of course, using sunscreen is just one safeguard. Other sun safety steps—such as wearing protective clothing and limiting the time you spend in the sun—are essential, too.

For more information, visit the Food & Drug Administration at

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