Sunscreen Label Changes and What They Mean

In Beauty, Style by Guest Writer4 Comments

In June 2011 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new regulations for sunscreen manufacturers that require them to change their labeling to reflect the discoveries found in research done in the last 5 years. All sunscreen manufacturers were required to have their labels changed, and on new bottles no later than June 2012. As we head into the end of July 2012 it is important for you to understand what your sunscreen is telling you.

After a lot of research I realized  two things: 1) I never really understood sunscreen; and 2) I had to share what I learned with as many people as I could. I have a post on my site dedicated to the rules for labeling sunscreen. For our purposes I’ll give you the highlights and suggestions for sunscreen based on the things I’ve learned.

Here are the highlights that will help you read your sunscreen labels better, and be more informed about the sun protection you are getting and using on your children.

  • Any sunscreen with SPF 2 to 14, OR does not have protection from both UVA and UVB rays must disclose that they can help prevent sunburn, but cannot claim to protect against skin cancer.
  • The risk of skin cancer can only be claimed on labels if the sunscreen is SPF 15 or higher AND has broad spectrum protection. Bottom Line: It must have at least SPF 15 and say either against UVA and UVB or it can just say Broad Spectrum protection.
  • The words waterproof, sweatproof and sunblock cannot be used on a label any longer. No sunscreen is truly waterproof because all sunscreens do wash off. Sunblocks can state they are water resistant, but it must “resist” water for a minimum of 40 minutes. It’s important to note that manufacturers cannot put ‘Water Resistent’ on their labels without submitting testing reports providing proof of this claim.
Now that you have a little more information I have a few more tips and suggestions to get the maximum out of your sun protection.
Firstly let’s talk about time of application. Applying sunscreen at minimum 20 minutes before exposing the skin to the sun is imperative. The reason being the ingredients do not actually bind to skin for at least 20 minutes. There is an exception (you knew there would be a but), and that is any sunscreen containing Zinc Oxide and Titanium Oxide. Zinc naturally blocks the damaging UVA & UVB upon contact with skin. A great sunscreen with zinc is SOLBAR Zinc SPF 38. SOLBAR is one of the top recommended sunscreens by Dermatologists.
Many of us are unaware that our everyday activities expose us to the sun. Many skin cancer sufferers get it on their left side of their face and/or arm. The reason is because there is no UVA/UVB protection on the windows in your car. When you are driving around, whether picking up the kids from soccer practice or going to the grocery store you expose yourself to the sun’s damaging rays. Get into the habit of putting sunscreen on daily by buying a facial moisturizer containing SPF within it. A great option especially for people with sensitive skin is SkinCeauticals Ultimate UV Defense SPF 30.
However, if you’re like me on a tight budget try the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Sunblock to layer under make up.

Another face sunscreen to consider is Fallene Face Cotz SPF 40 is non-greasy and can replace your moisturizer if you want.

When I had my oldest I read everywhere and was told by the pediatrician that I could not put sunscreen on him for the first 6 mo. Now there is Episencial Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35 that is all natural and can be used on a baby as soon as s/he is born.

You can also try BabyGanics Cover Up Baby SPF 50 for your child(ren). It’s a thinner easily blendable sunscreen which is great on the go baby sunscreen.


Every sunscreen, no matter what the label says needs to be re-applied every 2 hours. Sunscreen loses its effectiveness after 2 hours when outdoors. It’s important to continue the level of protection by reapplying while outdoors.

My kids will be wearing sunscreen all year round. No matter what the weather is outside, damaging UVA rays are present. I should sign up for a regular sunscreen delivery now.

However, all of this is inconsequential if you don’t put enough sunscreen on. I will admit that I was personally guilty of this grievance. Sunscreen needs to be applied quite liberally. The best way to know you’ve put on enough sunscreen is when you are done your skin stays wet another 1-2 minutes.

Have you learned anything new about sunscreens to share? Please comment and let us know what we should know to better protect ourselves and our families.

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  1. Thank you for pointing out the new standards. I learned last year, through an awful rash on my arms and chest, that a sunscreen that claims to be for sensitive skin ain’t necessarily so. As in your first recommendation, look for the zinc oxide. It’s the least irritating, and works the best.

    Thanks again.

  2. Once again you’re recommending sunscreens for children/babies that have octisalate, octinoxate, which are harmful chemicals for children. Please do more research on what a chemical sunscreen is vs a physical sunscreen. These ingredients are banned in most countries, I’d hate for your readers to go out and purchase some of these sunscreens because you recommended them. Zinc oxide and titanium oxide sunscreens are the only types that children and infants should be using!

  3. Thank you for sharing. Sometimes I stand in the sunscreen aisle shaking my head. I never know what is the best choice. This helps.

  4. Great information in your article. We agree that it is important to know what you are buying and that the labeling is true. Aloe Up sun care products have been around for about 30 years mainly used in the sports world. Recently there has been a desire to share this wonderful product with all. Aloe Up combine the benefits of aloe vera gel and sunscreen. The best of both worlds. Aloe has the same PH as your skin and is a great penetrator. So with aloe as the base to carry the sunscreen down into your pores, it does not sit on top of your skin and feel greasy or wash off easily. We have some great options for kids. Check us out at

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