On The Horizon: What’s New For Sunscreens?

We’re wrapping up our sunscreen series with a look at what the future brings for sun protection.

We’re wrapping up our sunscreen series with a look at what the future brings for sun protection. Keeping up-to-date on what’s new is important because it affects our skin’s health and appearance. Let’s take a look at what’s to come for sunscreens.

New FDA Labeling for Sunscreens

It’s about time the FDA simplified and organized the confusing sunscreens labels. Updates were suppose to be made last year but were obviously delayed. Although final regulations have already been effective since June 18, 2012, all over-the-counter sunscreens have until December 17, 2012 to become compliant with the new labeling system. Here are the most significant updates:

  1. Brand XOnly products that pass strict guidelines to protect against both UVA and UVB rays can be labeled “broad spectrum”
  2. Only broad spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher may state that they protect against skin cancer if used as directed with other sun protection measures
  3. Sunscreens with SPF between 2 and 14 must display a warning that the product has not been shown to help prevent skin cancer or early skin aging
  4. Sunscreens can no longer use the words “waterproof”, “sweatproof”, or “sunblock”
  5. Water-resistant products will be labeled under two time lengths: protection for 40 minutes or 80 minutes after swimming/sweating
  6. No sunscreen can claim “instant protection” or protection for longer than 2 hours unless approved by the FDA

There is also a proposed regulation that would have any SPF higher than 50 to just be labeled as “SPF 50+” since the protection difference at that point is minimal. We’ll let you know if it passes!

For more information on the FDA’s sunscreen guidelines, click here.

Sun Protection Pills

Coral and some algae have been known to make their own sunscreen to protect themselves from UV rays in hot, tropical climates. With scientific research, we now know that algae living within the coral create a protective ingredient which is then used by the coral. Even fish become protected once they feed on the coral, leading scientists to believe the benefits are transferrable.


Research is now underway to try and replicate this special compound for human use. Who knows? We may eventually be able to get sun protection by simply taking a pill. Scientists are also hoping to utilize the compound in other ways, such as protection for crops in hot, sunny environments.

There are actually several companies that claim to already have a sun protection pill available: Heliocare, Sunpill, and FernBlock. All three contain key ingredients from the cabbage palm fern. This compound helps to protect the plant from UV damage. However, several studies have shown that this protection is minimal, with one scientist stating that the extract has an SPF of around 3. Click here to read more about these studies.

Ultimately, more comprehensive testing must be done before there is a true sun protection pill.

Did You Know?

DIY UV Protectant Clothing

SunGuardYou can now easily make your own UV protectant clothing. With SunGuard™ Sun Protection, you just throw in one of their packages into the laundry and wash as usual. Every garment will then be protected for up to 20 washings. With an approved UPF (or ultraviolet protection factor) of 30, you can provide extra protection for your skin. Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

There are a couple suggestions we need to express. One, this does not take the place of sunscreen. Make sure you are still applying sunscreen to the skin 20-30 minutes before sun exposure. Think of SunGuard™ as additional protection. And two, don’t count on full protection after 20 washings. You might want to use a package of SunGuard™ after every 15 washings or so, especially if you’ll be wearing the clothes in a sunny environment.

Skin Cancer and Fish

There has been a recent discovery that about 15% of fish living among Australia’s Great Barrier Reef have skin cancer. Scientists compared the lesions found on the scales of affected fish to the ones on fish deliberately infected with melanoma. They found the lesions to be nearly identical.


This finding comes as no surprise since Australia is known for lying directly under the Earth’s largest hole in the ozone layer. The increased UV exposure has already awarded the Australian population for having the highest rate of skin cancer in the world: 2 out of 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70.

Although there is no clear impact on what the skin cancer will have on the fish, scientists believe that diseased animals will become slower and more vulnerable to prey. It is a definite eye-opener to the dangerous effects of UV damage and why sun protection is so important.

Have you heard of any strange or interesting news regarding sunscreen or sun damage? Let us know!

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