How Well Do You Know Your SPF?

SPF 15 or SPF 50? Isn’t it all the same? Do the numbers really matter? If it says it’s waterproof, do I still need to reapply it after swimming for a while? Over the years, it seems sunscreen labels have become a bit harder to decipher, and you’ve likely asked yourself at least one of the questions above when shopping for sunscreen. With summer upon us, a quick review of the most recent guidelines on sunscreen labels and SPF can make stocking up a lot easier.


UV protection for kids

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A new set of rules went into effect last June, and as the article Sunscreen 101: What You Need to Know about the New FDA Regulations notes, the rules were put into place in an effort “to achieve a single standard of safety and effectiveness.” This new standard will streamline the process of choosing a sunscreen and clear up any murkiness surrounding the labels. Below are the key points to remember created by the FDA.


  1. Sunscreens must pass the FDA’s broad spectrum test that measures UVA protection “relative” to its UVB protection in order to carry the “Broad Spectrum SPF” label on the front of the product. The SPF value of a sunscreen will indicate the magnitude of overall protection for broad spectrum sunscreens.


  1. Only sunscreens with an SPF value of 15 or higher can carry a claim to reduce the risk of skin cancer and premature aging of the skin “if used as directed with other sun protection measures.” Sunscreens with an SPF value less than 15 can only claim that they help prevent sunburn.


  1. Sunscreens cannot be labeled waterproof or sweatproof any more. They must be labeled as water resistant or sweat resistant. Labeling them otherwise is not a true reflection of the effectiveness of the product. Also, no product can completely block the sun, so the term sunblock is no longer allowed either.


  1. If a sunscreen product is water or sweat resistant, the label must clearly state the time frame of that effectiveness, either 40 minutes or 80 minutes.


  1. SPF now maxes out at SPF 50+. Research hasn’t provided enough evidence to support that SPF values of more than 50 provide greater protection.


For additional information, be sure to check out the Skin Cancer Foundation website.


Also, don’t forget that your skin isn’t the only part of your body at risk while in the sun. Always be sure to wear sunglasses that offer protection for UVA and UVB rays to protect your eyes! Real Kids Shades has created a great range of sunglasses made just for kids in comfortable styles and colors that are kid-approved. Visit our website today to check them out!


And don’t forget to register for our Ski & Sun Giveaway. Registration ends on April 26, 2013 at 11:59 p.m.!