Sunscreen – The New Rules

Cosmetic Dermatologist Serving Beverly Hills, Larchmont & surrounding areas of Los Angeles


What you REALLY need to know about sunscreen

“Every spring it seems some sort of news about sunscreen comes out. Is there anything I really need to know?”

The idea is always to simplify sunscreen for consumers, but often all of the updates and new ingredients and products just end up confusing people. So let me tell you what you actually need to know about the latest rules.

The new FDA sunscreen regulations that are going to kick in this summer reinforce the vital importance of using sunscreen but also reveal its limitations. Thankfully, they’re still aimed at making sun protection as fool proof as possible.

There’s no such thing as a once a day application for sunscreen

Products can no longer say “sunblock”, “waterproof”, “prevents skin cancer”, “instant protection”, or claim protection for more than two hours. Therefore, adopt “reapply reapply reapply” as your new mantra and rethink how much time you spend in the sun.

Broad Spectrum – What’s that?

What else? UVA protection must be proportional to UVB protection to be labeled “Broad Spectrum SPF”. Protection from both types of ultra violet light is crucial in order to protect all layers of your skin from premature aging and multiple forms of skin cancer.

This rule also applies to cosmetics and moisturizers that claim broad spectrum SPF protection. Also, only products with SPF of 15 or higher can claim to reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. Non broad spectrum products less than 15 can only claim to prevent sunburn. But (clear throat) you never use anything lower than 15 anyway, right?


Now for you swimmers and surfers and other active types, a few new rules apply to the sunscreen formerly known as “waterproof”.  For a product to claim water resistance it must say if it remains effective for 40 or 80 minutes. All non water resistant sunscreen must include a reminder to use a water resistant product when swimming or sweating.

It’s your skin – take care of it

So here’s your takeaway: there are limits to how much sun exposure you can safely get even with sunscreen. Period. So, apply before you head outside, remember our new mantra, choose a broad spectrum product, and use a water resistant one when you need it. That said, have a great summer!

By the way, we’ve got cool sun protection options you can pick up in the office or from our online store.