Implementation of a new FDA rule on sunscreen labels is being delayed six months, which will likely lead to "more consumers … likely burned this summer," according to Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed. With skin cancer rising dramatically among young adults, consumer and safety advocates were hoping that this summer would be the time sunscreen manufacturers would have to play by new rules designed to better educate consumers.
Instead, the rules are being pushed back to December, that wonderful month of suntanning bliss as Santa dons his sunglasses across the country. Even though the new rules would have required zero changes to the sunscreen formulas themselves, and even though rules go through months and months of waiting while comments are collected and reviewed, manufacturers got their wish and will be able to continue to sell their sunscreens with their old labels.
Some of the changes you will note starting next year will be that no sunscreen will be allowed to have a label saying it is "waterproof", "sweatproof", or acts as a "sunblock" because all those statements overstate the effectiveness of the product. In fact, labels will have to tell you that even if you wear "water resistant sunscreen" you'll still need to reapply the product. Also, there will be minimum SPF standards before a sunscreen can claim to reduce skin cancer, and only sunscreens that pass the FDA's broad spectrum test will be allowed to have the label "Broad-Spectrum SPF."
Unfortunately, these rules won't go into effect, so this summer will likely add to even greater confusion and more kids at risk because of slick labels promising unproven protection.