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New Sunscreen Labels to Protect Consumers

The Food and Drug Administration outlines new rules for labeling of sunscreen and sunblock products - truth in labeling

For most of us, the last thing we pack in our duffle bag before a Virgin Islands yacht charter is sunscreen.  At this point, we’ve all heard the warnings about skin cancer and the need to lather on the protection.
What remains less clear is the amount of protection we need.  The confusing jumble of sun protection numbers, symbols, and claims on the sunscreen bottles can be daunting.
Soon, simplified labeling standards will help consumers cut through the confusion.   Starting next summer, consumers can look for SPF 15 sunscreens with the words, “broad spectrum” on the label, and feel confident they’re being protected from an increased risk of cancer.
Currently, protection standards only to ultraviolet B rays, which cause sunburn. Under the new rules outlined by the Food and Drug Administration, sunscreens will also have to protect against ultraviolet A rays, often associated with skin cancer.
The new guidelines are designed to enhance the effectiveness of sunscreens and make them easier to use.
Sunscreens with less than an SPF of 15 or that aren’t “broad spectrum” will have to carry a warning label that reads, “This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.” 

Jana Sheeder, President of SailAway Yacht Charters, says the clarification is good news.  “Whether on a luxury sailing charter in the Caribbean, or sitting in port watching the action at the Monaco Grand Prix, it seems every client wants the same thing – a sun tan,” says Sheeder.  “Until now, most people judged sunscreen by one factor – the SPF number.  Avoiding sunburn is important; thereby reducing cancer risk is critical.”  (NOTE: Did you know that you can get melanoma – skin cancer – in your eyes?  Make sure to always wear polarized sunglasses!)

“These changes to sunscreen labels are an important part of helping consumers have the information they need so they can choose the right sun protection for themselves and their families,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of FDA’s drug division.

Under the new rules:

• Sunscreen marketing claims like “waterproof” and “sweatproof,” will be prohibited.  The FDA says such claims, “are exaggerations of performance.”
• The FDA seeks to cap the highest SPF value at 50, unless companies can provide results of further testing that support a higher number.
• A four-star system currently used by some companies to rate UVA protection must be phased out.  The
FDA decided the star system was too confusing to consumers.  Instead, protection against UVA should be proportional to protection against UVB, which is already measured using SPF.

The SPF number indicates the amount of sun exposure necessary to cause sunburn on skin protected by sunscreen, as compared with unprotected skin. For example, an SPF rating of 30 means it would take a person 30 times longer to burn wearing that sunscreen than with no sunscreen at all.

Although the new guidelines do not take effect until next summer, many companies have already adopted the some of the labeling outlined by the FDA.   Coppertone as well as Neutrogena sunscreens already boast “broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection.”

According to the National Cancer Institute, last year about 68,00 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with melanoma — the most dangerous form of skin cancer.  An estimated 8,700 died from the disease. Almost $2 billion is spent each year treating the disease.


When booking your luxury yacht charter vacation, ask one of our specialists
for a COMPLIMENTARY BOTTLE of Neutrogena Spectrum+ Advanced SPF 100+ Sunblock Lotion.  Offer good on all yacht charters booked though SailAway before December 15, 2011. 

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