Sunscreen Guidelines Changed: What to Look for - We Found Expired SPF

Sunscreen Guidelines Changed: What to Look for - We Found Expired SPF

New federal guidelines are changing the way your sunscreen bottle looks, and with summer officially starting tomorrow, we want you to know what to look for so you that you're getting the best protection.
It can be overwhelming when you go to the store, it's an entire aisle or two filled with sprays, lotions, UVA, UVB, so tonight we'll take a look at what to look for as you prepare for summer!

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It's been quite rainy, but kiss the spring blues goodbye... summer starts Friday! With a new season comes new labels - the rows and rows of sunscreen may look the same, but the fine print has changed. The Food and Drug Administration has made the changes to keep your skin better protected.

"Most wrinkles are caused by sun damage, not by age," Dr. Glenn Goldman said, who is the head of Dermatology at Fletcher Allen.

And because Ultra Violet A rays cause wrinkles and UVB rays cause skin cancer - make sure the bottle you buy says broad spectrum, so that you're getting protection against both.

"The sunscreens that are always going to block everything are the ones that have zinc oxide and titanium dioxide," Dr. Goldman said.

You also won't see a SPF higher than 50 anymore - data doesn't show anything higher provides more protection. And you also won't see anything lower than a 15 making promises that it will protect you from any and all sun induced skin damage. That means if it's not labeled broad spectrum and has an SPF of between 2 and 14, it's only been proven to protect against a sunburn, not skin cancer or wrinkles.

"Higher than a 15 does actually decrease the number of melanomas and is therefore very helpful," Dr. Goldman said.

Sprays, sticks, creams, oil free, tear free - those are all based on your preference, but one word you won't see anymore, waterproof.

"You'll have to say that it is water resistant, which is true and you're actually going to have to prove that it lasts 40 or 80 minutes," Dr. Goldman said.

If you're going to be out all day, it's good to apply every two hours.

Checking the bottle for an expiration date is also incredibly important. After shopping around for sunscreen for myself, I noticed a couple of stores had expired sunscreen on the shelf.

While using expired sunscreen is better than not using any at all, it does become less effective in time. It's usually good for about two or three years.

And for the bottles that don't even have an expiration date at all - that means they aren't FDA approved.

"I think that the higher quality products have expiration dates on them usually because those are the companies who have gone through the process of making sure that they've tested things and they have data on how long they'll last," Dr. Goldman said.

We reached out to both Kinney Drug and Walgreens, the two stores we found the expired sunscreen at.  We did not hear back from Kinney, Walgreens said:

"We have procedures in place to routinely check the expiration dates on perishable items. Obviously, for some reason this product was overlooked. Customer safety is our primary concern. We will continue to be diligent in our efforts to monitor all expiration dates."

We know this was probably just an oversight on their end, but just goes to show it's helpful to be an educated and alert consumer.

We don't want you getting burned!
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