It’s no secret that sunscreen is a necessity for anyone who plans to spend time in the sun. If not, you’re risking prematurely aging your skin, and even more critically, developing skin cancer. “Can you safely tan?” (Healthy Living Made Simple-July/August 2104) touched on this topic, including standard recommendations of an SPF 30 broad-spectrum sunscreen applied every two hours during lengthy sun exposure. But as skin cancer rates continue to climb, how do you know if you’re using the right product?

Established in the summer of 2013, new Federal Drug Administration (FDA) labeling regulations are aimed at making it easier for consumers to make smart decisions about what they’re buying. In order to claim “broad spectrum” protection, products must meet FDA standards for protection from both UVA and UVB rays. The terms “sunblock,” “sweatproof” and “waterproof” have been banned from appearing on labels due to their misleading nature. Products can be labeled “water resistant” if they are able to stay on your skin even after getting wet, but they must also designate how long they last before you need to reapply, i.e. “40 minutes” or “80 minutes.”

Finally, a proposed rule would limit the maximum sunscreen SPF value on labels to “50+,” due to insufficient data showing that these higher SPF values provide greater protection. Any sunscreens not meeting these new requirements have to clearly display their protective limitations on product labels.