Written by: Kalisha

I always dread the day that my sunscreen runs out because that means I have to head to the drugstore and stare for what seems like forever at the huge wall of sunscreens trying to figure out which one is the best. I will usually stare and stare then decide to go pick out the toilet paper I need because that is always an easy decision; two-ply and quilted. Then come back to the wall of sunscreens to then just pick one that looks like it will protect well. I have never been able to figure out why there are so many different SPF’s. I figure if there is one that is better for everyone then why not just sell that one particular SPF. Why confuse me with all those different numbers?! Now I feel like my prayers have been answered and from now on I will be able to go to the store, pick out my sunscreen at first glance and be on my way. The FDA is changing the labeling on all sunscreens! Woo Hoo! They want the labeling on your sunscreen to tell you more about protection from the sun’s harmful rays as well as educate on sun protection.

Currently the labeling on sunscreen only provides the Sun Protection Factor that informs you how well the product protects against UVB rays. UVB rays are primarily responsible for sunburns, but there is still UVA light that penetrates the skin more than UVB and causes you to tan. With the new labeling the FDA will require that all sunscreens show a four-star rating (along with the SPF) that tells you how well the product protects from UVA rays. Both UVA and UVB are types of ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun and both contribute to premature skin aging, skin cancer, and other types of skin damage.


  • 1 star; low UVA protection
  • 2 stars; medium protection
  • 3 stars; high protection
  • 4 stars; the highest protection available in an over the counter sunscreen product

If the sunscreen product does not rate at least one star the FDA is proposing that its labeling bear a “no UVA protection” label. The FDA wants consumers to know that sunscreen is not the only option. Along with the star ratings they want labels to advise consumers about limiting time in the sun, wearing protective clothing and using sunscreen liberally and reapplying frequently.


If you would like to find out more information on the new FDA changes just visit these sites:

FDA Press Release

Questions and Answers

FDA Sunscreen Web page

FDA’s Web site for OTC drug products

FDA’s Tanning Web site

Sun Safety: Save Your Skin!