By Karin McCay| email
Edited by Kristin Beerman | email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – New labels for sunscreens are coming, but probably not until after Labor Day, when most pools and beaches have closed shop for the season. You slather on the sunscreen, but how do you know how well it's blocking the sun's harmful rays?
Experts say a sun protection factor or SPF of at least 30 is good, however that tells only half the story. "The SPF only tells you pretty much what the UVB protection is and does not tell you the degree of UVA protection," said Elmo Baron, M.D., a dermatologist at UH Case Medical Center.
UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and not only increase the risk for skin cancers, but also cause age spots and wrinkles. So you could have a sunscreen with a super high SPF, but it'll still leave you exposed if it doesn't offer broad spectrum protection, blocking both UVA and UVB rays.
A good sunscreen will say so right on the label, which while good, isn't great. Currently, the labels tell us nothing about how much of the UVA rays are blocked. However, this should change this October, when the Food and Drug Administration is expected to come out with a new rating system for UVA protection on sunscreens.
The proposed sun block label rules would also limit SPF value at 50. Anything above that would be labeled 50 plus because some experts doubt whether a sun protection factor above 50 can be accurately proven. "I think at some point you get to that area of diminishing returns that the higher the SPF you go, the significance is really not that much greater," said Dr. Baron.
Until the new rules are established dermatologists recommend sticking with a few tried and true sunscreen rules, use a lot of it and reapply every 2-3 hours. You don't have to spend a fortune for a good sun block. The target brand "Up and Up" sport sunscreen costs about $5 a bottle and was recently rated by consumer reports as a best buy for sunscreen.
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