The “Sun Protection Factor” (SPF) was created by Swiss chemist Fronz Greiter in 1974 and has become the worldwide standard for measuring the effectiveness of sunscreen. The FDA adapted the SPF policy in 1978.
The FDA sets the rulings and guide lines for labeling sunscreens and sun protection in this country. Some of the most recently set statues include:
- Broad spectrum sunscreen products must include protection against both UVA and UVB radiation, both require specific testing
- The maximum SPF allowed on sunscreen labels is “50”
- “Water proof” or “sweat proof” are no longer allowed in labeling
- Sunscreens must include standardized “drug facts” information or ingredient listing on container
- Powder sunscreens are no longer allowed
- “Sunblock”, “Instant Protection”, and “Protection for more than 2 hours” are no longer allowed on labeling
- “Water resistant” claims on the front label must indicate how long the sunscreen remains effective, and indicate if whether that applies to swimming or sweating
- In the US we have 17 active sunscreen ingredients approved by the FDA. In comparison, Europe has 29, Australia 26, and Canada 21
- Sunscreens are currently broken down into two categories; organic chemical ingredients that absorb ultraviolet light, and inorganic metal oxides, such as zinc oxide titanium which are known to reflect ultraviolet rays
The biggest concern the FDA has is the safety of the ingredients being used. Research will continue especially as new ingredients are being developed for sun protection.
The latest sunscreen ingredient is Tin o sorb-m, which is not yet approved by the FDA but available in Europe. According to research, avoid PABA as its banned for sale in Europe.
For further information check out this site