UVA risk questioned

Sunscreen labels give little indication of the amount of protection from harmful UVA rays.

Consumers anxious to protect themselves from the sun’s damaging rays look to a product’s SPF rating on the label. But dermatologists warn that while SPF can indicate protection from UVB rays, sunscreen labels give little indication of the amount of protection from harmful UVA rays. They believe the current labeling system is confusing and want FDA to issue clear guidelines for UVA-related labeling. The agency has been promising such guidelines for the past seven years and is expected to seek public comment in the near future. Meanwhile, the Cosmetics, Toiletries and Fragrance Assn. says consumers should feel confident using any product with a label that says it provides UVA protection.

As of May 22, 2000, FDA requires any suntanning product that does not contain sunscreen ingredients to carry the following warning on the label: “Warning–

This product does not contain a sunscreen and does not protect against sunburn. Repeated exposure of unprotected skin while tanning may increase the risk of skin aging, skin cancer, and other harmful effects to the skin even if you do not burn.”

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