Dear Consumer Ed: 

I am getting ready to take my children (ages 1 year and 5 years) on a vacation to Tybee Island.  I want to make sure they are protected from the sun.  What are the latest guidelines concerning sunscreen?

Consumer Ed says: 

With summer here, many people have plans involving outdoor activities in the sun.  Because sun exposure is known to increase the risk of sunburn, skin cancer and early skin aging, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has announced significant changes to their sunscreen products, effective June 18, 2012.   The FDA recommends that consumers use Broad Spectrum sunscreen (sunscreen that protects against damage from both UVB and UVA radiation) with an SPF (sun protection factor) value of 15 or higher, in addition to other protective measures such as:  covering skin with clothing whenever you’re in the sun; limiting time in the sun between 10 A.M. and 2 P.M.; using water resistant sunscreen if swimming or sweating; and reapplying sunscreen at least every two hours (more often if one is sweating or engaging in water-related activities).

It is also important to note that there is no such thing as “waterproof” sunscreen; rather, what’s available is water resistant sunscreen.  Water resistant sunscreens state how long they are effective, with ranges between 40 and 80 minutes.  To understand when to reapply a particular sunscreen, it’s best to read the instructions on the sunscreen bottle.  To keep up with the latest sunscreen guidelines, visit the FDA website (

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