Screen Your Sunscreens

Are you really getting the protection you need? Here’s what you need to know.

  • By Erinn Bucklan
  • June 12, 2013

Not all sunscreens are created equal. Many high-SPF lotions that are on the market may not be providing as much protection as we think--either because their ingredients or their instructions aren’t effective enough, say researchers.

That could help explain why even though sales of sunscreen products are rising--up 27% from 2009 to more than $1 billion last year--so is the incidence of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. 

"Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the world, but it is also one of the most preventable," says Elizabeth L. Tanzi, M.D., a Washington, D.C. dermatologist and co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery. Sunscreen, she adds, is "a vital part" of skin cancer prevention--if it’s used correctly. 

The problem is that we often don’t apply sunscreens evenly or frequently enough, or we assume from the packaging that we’re getting more protection than we actually are (and behave accordingly). Now new labeling rules by the Food and Drug Administration are aimed at changing that. 

Keep reading to find out what the new regulations will mean.

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Tagged in: Health