Don’t expect those new sunscreen labels to roll out in time for Memorial Day.

Last summer, the FDA told sunscreen manufacturers—both big and small—that they had until June 2012 to revise their sunscreen labels, but manufacturers said they were having difficulty meeting the original deadline.

On May 11, the FDA gave these manufacturers an additional 6 months to make the required changes. Smaller companies have until December 2013 to make these changes.

What Will the New Labels Say?

The new guidelines state that sunscreens can only be labeled as “broad-spectrum SPF” if they protect against both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays. Only broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF value of 15 or higher can state that they reduce risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, if used as directed with other protective measures. Other sunscreens, including those with an SPF value between 2 and 14, can claim only to help prevent sunburn.

Gone from labels will be words like “waterproof,” “sweatproof," or “sunblock.”

Sunscreens cannot claim to provide sun protection for more than 2 hours without reapplication or to provide immediate protection without having submitted data to obtain FDA approval.

”Water-resistance” labeling must indicate whether the sunscreen is effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating.
Other sunscreens must include a recommendation advising consumers to use water-resistant sunscreen if swimming or sweating. 

[Source: FDA]