There is a lot to remember about sunscreen, its ingredients, protection factors and FDA regulations. Here's a quick recap to help you sell your customers the most effective sunscreen products for their promotions.

Common Definitions – what do all those letters mean?

UVB (Ultraviolet B radiation) — responsible for tanning the skin, primarily causes sunburn, known to increase skin cancer risk.

UVA (Ultraviolet A radiation) — penetrates deeply, responsible for signs of aging such as wrinkles, saggy/leathery skin, sun spots, also contributes to skin cancer risk.

SPF (Sun Protection Factor) — measures the effectiveness of protection agains UVB rays.

UV Index — Provides a daily forecast of the expected risk of overexposure to the sun.  The Index predicts UV intensity levels on a scal of 1-11+.

Did you know early attempts at developing a sunburn preventative began in the 1930's in Australia?  

On to Sunscreen regulations…

Previously, choosing a good sunscreen meant you just looked for a high sun protection factor which refers to the blockage of UVB rays only.  However, research soon showed that UVA rays also increase skin cancer risk.  In June 2011, the FDA released new labeling requirements to protect consumers from skin damage cause by BOTH UVA and UVB rays.

Manufacturers were given one year (to June 2012) to make the following changes:

1)  Products cannot be labeled "sunblock" as they do not block the sun – they should be referred to as "sunscreen."

2)  For sunscreen products to be labeled as "Broad Spectrum" both UVA and UVB testing needs to be completed.

3)  Any product that is not labeled "Broad Spectrum" or has an SPF between 2 and 14, only prevents against UVB.  These products can only claim to prevent sunburn, not skin cancer.

4)  Water-resistant claims must be accompanied by how much time the consumer can expect protection while swimming or sweating.  No claims can be made that a sunscreen is "waterproof" or "sweatproof."

5)  Products cannot be marketed with an SPF protection exceeding SPF 50 (they can only be called SPF-50+."

6)  All labels must be printed with the all inclusive FDA "Drug Facts" format commonly seen on medications.

What do these regulations mean for Promotional Products Suppliers?  There is a grace period until summer 2013 for enforcement.  Imprint areas on some products may be affected because all products will require new labels.  Testing is expensive, so you may see some suppliers removing SPF claims all-together and renaming products as "moisturizers" instead.

What is NBGNA doing to comply with the new regulations?  All product names and packages were changed from "sunblock" to "sunscreen" in the 2012 Norwood Hard Goods Catalog.  Norwood is undergoing all the necessary changes to be compliant – reviewing all testing and investing where needed and revising product labeling to meet drug fact panel specs.

You can rest assured that you are recommending FDA compliant and USA made ingredients when sourcing from Norwood.

~Margit Fawbush

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