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Sunscreens Are About to Get a Lot Safer

Photo: Murat Deniz/Getty Images

In terrifying news, a lot more people are getting skin cancer these days and reports have found that a good chunk of sunscreens offer less protection than they advertise! In way better news, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration newly issued a proposed rule that would finally tighten regulations over sunscreen products in the United States, which have been very, surprisingly, unregulated. In other words, the days of buying something that claims to be 50+ SPF and only getting SPF 30 while you slowly roast outside are coming to an end!

“Today’s action is an important step in the FDA’s ongoing efforts to take into account modern science to ensure the safety and effectiveness of sunscreens,” FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a release. “The proposal we’ve put forward would improve quality, safety and efficacy of the sunscreens Americans use every day,” he added, referring to the majority of sunscreens on the market which don’t have FDA-approved application.

The proposal aims to tackle the decades-long issue through rigorous assessment of active ingredients (only two of the 16 marketed active ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are FDA-approved as safe and effective), new testing requirements to improve and increase broad spectrum and UVA protection, new label requirements to help consumers more easily identify ingredient information, and a cap on those high SPF claims which are often misleading. Products that combine sunscreens with insect repellents are also being flagged as not safe and effective, sorry!

While this is all a much-needed step in protecting the public from the sun until it eventually decides to melt us all, the FDA would also like to remind everyone that sunscreen is only one part of good skin-cancer prevention strategy. They still advise using sunscreen in conjunction with other methods, such as wearing clothing that adequately covers the arms, torso and legs, wearing sunglasses with a ginormous hat “that provides adequate shade to the whole head,” and “seeking shade whenever possible during periods of peak sunlight.”

If in doubt, please refer to this picture of Madonna fleeing to a shady yacht in Ibiza. Thank you.

Sunscreens Are About to Get a Lot Safer