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FDA Sheds Light on Sunscreen Claims

Life was so much easier – if less healthy – when getting a tan was a good thing. But, just in time for the official beginning of summer and after more than 30 years of confusion about sunscreen labelling, the Federal Drug Administration has issued new rules specifying which products provide the best protection against sun exposure.

The FDA said that all sunscreens have to protect equally against both UVB and UVA radiation in order to earn the right to offer "broad spectrum" protection on a product's package. UVB rays allow the skin to burn, while UVA rays cause wrinkling. Both forms of sun radiation cause cancer.

The rules will go into effect in time for next year's beach season, and they will also ban manufacturers from claiming products are waterproof or sweat-proof, as both claims are false. But they will be allowed to claim the amount of time in which the product is water resistant.

Only sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher will be allowed to claim they help prevent sunburn as well as reduce the risks of skin cancer and early skin aging.

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