New Fda Testing and Labeling Requirements for Sunscreen Packagers

New FDA Testing and Labeling Requirements for Sunscreen Packagers

Though most consumers may not notice the differences on tubes, cans and bottles of sunscreen this summer, the FDA and those packaging such products are well aware of the changes.  From a packaging perspective, it appears that the current changes will effect only the label and labeling process.  However, proposed regulations still under consideration by the FDA may effect more than just sunscreen labels in the future.  

Starting this year, sunsceen packagers will no longer be allowed to use the terms "waterproof", "sweatproof" or "sunblock".  In addition, packagers of sunscreen can no longer claim that their product provides instant protection or that the sunscreen provides more than two hours of protection without re-application.  As to the labeling, if a sun protection product claims to be water resistant, the front of the label must specifically designate whether that protection lasts for 40 minutes or 80 minutes of swimming and/or sweating.  

The most substantial changes for consumers, however, come from testing requirements for the effectiveness of sunscreens against both UVA and UVB rays, which can contribute to skin cancer and advanced aging of the skin.  Sunscreens that now pass a specific test can be labeled "broad spectrum", meaning that the product provides protection against both types of sun rays.  Broad spectrum products with an SPF of 15 or greater appear to provide the most protection against the negative effects of the sun.  Therefore, sunscreens that are either not broad spectrum or do not provide an SPF of 15 or greater must, under the new FDA regulations, carry the following consumer warning:

"Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert:  Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.   This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging."

Those these regulations may lead some companies to re-think their product and change some ingredients, there are no regulations to stop non-broad spectrum sunscreens or sunscreens with less than a 15 SPF from being sold.  In other words, it is up to the consumer to become educated and choose the products that he or she sees fit.  

As noted above, from a packaging standpoint the testing and regulations discussed above will not have an overwhelming affect on packaging lines.  New labels may be necessary and, in some cases, a new blend of ingredients or a new product entirely to meet some of the tests for true sun protection as laid out by the FDA.  However, one of the proposed regulations being considered by the FDA is calling for additional information on the effectiveness of sunscreen sprays.  Depending on the results of the data gathered, sunscreen sprays may fade away in the near future, opening the market for new, and possibly more effective, products.  If the spray is ineffective, companies may be looking at new filling machines, capping machines and other packaging equipment to change over to lotion-type sunscreen. Should the sunscreen sprays be found to be an effective protection against the sun, the FDA may still find that the results warrant similar changes to those put in place in 2013, requiring special labeling based on individual sunscreen spray tests.  During the data gathering phase, it is simply a wait and see period for manufacturers of spray on sunscreens.

For more information on the new FDA regulations and sunscreen testing and labeling, read the consumer update released by the FDA.