Question: Do all sunscreens protect against UVA and UVB damage to the skin?

Answer: No, not all sunscreens offer both UVA and UVB protection. New FDA sunscreen labeling requirements will make it easier to choose a sunscreen.

New labels will say “Broad Spectrum” only if the product has passed specific FDA requirements and protects against both UVA and UVB rays. In the past, some sunscreens without both types of protection were labeled as broad spectrum. SPF 50+ will be the highest category for new labels on sunscreens. There is no evidence that an SPF greater than 50 will provide better protection from the sun.

“Water resistant” labeled products are designed to stay on during outdoor activities. New labeling will describe sunscreens as lasting for either 40 or 80 minutes after swimming or sweating. Manufacturers cannot label sunscreens as “waterproof” or “sweatproof”because these claims overstate their effectiveness. Always reapply sunscreens at least every 2 hours, and after swimming or sweating. Be sure to apply enough sunscreen - which is about 2 to 3 tablespoons of lotion to cover all exposed areas.

Last Updated: November 21, 2013