It could be said that there’s been a national sunscreen saga of sorts.
Last year the F.D.A. cracked down on labeling that many argued mislead consumers into believing their sunscreens offered ample protection from the sun's rays, when in fact they didn't. Now, any sunscreen making such claims must offer broad spectrum coverage of both UVA and UVB rays that complies with F.D.A. testing standards. There’s also a proposal to limit SPF levels at 50+ (since the agency has deemed anything more as an unwarranted claim), but that one's still on the table.
Going forward, “water- and sweatproof” labeled products must be more accurately described as “water- or sweat- resistant,” and state how long it remains that way before dissipating (40 or 80 minutes). This goes for all SPF-labeled moisturizers and cosmetics, too, says the F.D.A. Meanwhile, in order to make the grade, popular sprays must provide testing data affirming they’re safe and effective in the amounts needed. Gone too is the term, “sunblock”; now only “sunscreen” is acceptable.
These new rules were set go into effect on June 18th of this year—but the F.D.A. has given companies another six months to transition their labels. “The F.D.A. was concerned that those manufacturers who wouldn't be able to complete the broad spectrum testing and product relabeling before the compliance date might decide to temporarily discontinue their sunscreens, which would limit the quantities of sunscreens available in the marketplace,” F.D.A. spokesperson Stephanie Yao tells YouBeauty.
However, a group of senators—Jack Reed (D-RI), John Kerry (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT)—have petitioned the F.D.A. asking them to reverse that decision, a sentiment echoed by leading experts in the industry. “I'm concerned this will lead to more confusion and burns this summer,” says YouBeauty Dermatology Expert, Jeanine B. Downie, M.D.
But until those regulations finally go into effect on the new December 18, 2012 deadline, you can screen your own products by choosing a full spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen (look for that phrase on the bottle) of at least SPF 30. And when enjoying the sun on those lazy days by the beach or pool, generously reapply sunscreen to exposed skin every two hours, advises Downie.
Here, several sunscreens that pass the test.
From New Zealand (where they know a thing or two about sun), comes this natural, zinc oxide-based UVA blocker. Don't fret that it'll leave you with a chalky cast, the formula goes on super-transparent and fortified with shea butter for a smooth finish.
This product is available at our sister site, BeautySage, where we only sell products that are proven to work!
Best for Ethnic Skin
Neutrogena’s ultra sheer technology has a lightweight finish that doesn’t appear chalky on deeper skin tones. SkinMedica’s version is oil- and fragrance-free with a 100 percent mineral formulation that goes on clear as well.
MORE: Dark Skin Decoded
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 85 $12.
SkinMedica Daily Physical Defense SPF 30+, $45.
Best for Face
Liquid and weightless, SkinCeutical’s newest sunscreen features color-infused technology for a radiant hint of tint that is universal. Physical filters of zinc and titanium oxide are strengthened by plankton extract that shores up skin’s defenses against sun rays. Shake to mix the silky fluid before applying to face, and reapply every couple of hours when in the sun.
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SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50, $32.
Best for Baby
With no chemical sunscreens, parabens or PABA, this hypo-allergenic lotion protects and soothes little ones' skin with aloe, chamomile, sunflower and lavender. Zinc oxide provides mineral sunscreen protection, while plant-derived conditioners like jojoba seed and olive fruit oils keeps delicate skin hydrated.
Best for Body
Infused with rich antioxidants like white grape seed and vitamin E, L’Oréal’s Sublime Sun range deeply moisturizes while protecting with a patented UV filter system. Better yet, there's no greasy residue. The oil-free formula is also highly water- and sweat-resistant.
MORE: Men Sweat, Women Glow.
L’Oréal Sublime Sun Advanced Sunscreen SPF 50+, $11.
Best Under Makeup
This feather-light liquid formula absorbs and dries on contact, creating the ideal, no-slip base for makeup. And with a lightening complex comprised of vitamin C, licorice, bearberry, cherry and bitter orange peel, it doubles as a brightening treatment to reduce hyperpigmentation and redness.
MORE: Wear Makeup, Appear More Likable.
Artistry Time Defiance UV Defense SPF 50 Ultra Facial Sunscreen, $56.
If you can’t stand the cloying smell of sunscreen that steeps through most formulas, take a whiff of Ocean Potion’s offerings. The quick-dry range contains a sweet signature scent blend of vanilla and orange, plus you also a get a fortified dose of vitamin D.
MORE: Vitamin D and Your Skin: What’s the Deal?
Ocean Potion Quick Dry Anti-Aging Sunscreen, $8 each.
Best for Active Wear
With a sweat- and water-resistant formula designed to be absorbed (even on wet skin), grab this spray for strenuous activity in the sun; think runs, bike rides, swimming, hiking or beach volleyball. If applying to the face, spray into hands and then spread onto skin. And be sure to apply 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors so that the protection is activated —a necessity with any chemical sunscreen.
Best Makeup Substitute
The smooth texture of this primer blurs away flaws with light-reflecting microparticles that also minimize the appearance of pores. Aerogel technology, which uses an aerated silica for a smooth, matte finish, means less silicone content than traditional primers. A blend of chemical sunscreens is blended with senna alata extract (a tropical plant), to further shield skin from environmental aggressors.
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