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Practice Safe Sunscreen: Using SPF Protection to Avoid Getting Burned

Find out what the new FDA regulations on sunscreen mean to you—and how to use SPF protection to avoid burns, wrinkles and skin cancer.

This summer marks the first time in more than 30 years that the FDA has updated its regulations for sunscreen use and labeling. Over that time, non-melanoma skin cancer has become the most common form of cancer in the United States—with roughly 3.5 million cases diagnosed annually—and the amount of misinformation disseminated on the Internet and even the labels of popular sunscreens is scary. We brought in David Kriegel, M.D., a skin care specialist and director of the Manhattan Center for Dermatology, to explain the changes and provide some helpful advice of his own.

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"Waterproof" is a Lie

Sunscreens can no longer claim to be waterproof. they can, however, be labeled water resistant, but how many minutes of water exposure they can endure needs to be specified. the fDa has also instated a standardized method to test this—something it didn’t have before. “now water resistant really means water resistant,” Kriegel says. just make sure to reapply when you get out of the water.

Absorption Takes Time

“Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go outside,” Kriegel says. “Otherwise you’ll be without protection for 10 to 15 minutes.” then reapply every two hours. “the amount it would take to fill two shot glasses will cover your entire body safely.

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