Stop Misleading Advertising for Sunscreen

Target: Food and Drug Administration

Goal: Do not continue to extend the deadline for sunscreen manufacturers to comply with label rules intended to show consumers the difference between sunscreens that block UVA and UVB rays.

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration released new rules for sunscreen manufacturers. These rules were intended to show consumers the difference between sunscreens that block ultraviolet B rays, which can cause sunburn, and those that block ultraviolet A rays, which are the ones linked to skin cancer. The FDA’s hope was that consumers would be able to make good decisions about the sunscreen they buy and protect themselves from cancer. However, the FDA has pushed back the deadline for sunscreen manufacturers to comply with these rules, allowing manufacturers to continue to deceive consumers through the sunny summer months.

In creating these rules, the FDA found that sunscreen labels with the words ‘waterproof’ or ‘sweatproof’ did not protect against water or sweat for as long as a consumer would assume. Additionally, many sunscreens labeled as having ‘broad spectrum protection’ did not protect against both ultraviolet A and B rays. The FDA’s new label rules will tell consumers exactly which rays the sunscreen protects against, as well as how long the sunscreen is resistant to water or sweat.

While originally sunscreen manufacturers were supposed to comply with these rules at the beginning of June, the FDA has pushed back the compliance date to December 2012. This is due to pressure from manufacturers who claimed they could not change the labels on their products in time, despite the fact that some companies already have the new labels on store shelves. The FDA feared a shortage of sunscreen for the summer, but according to Senator Jack Reed, who pushed for the change in label rules, ‘More consumers will likely get burned this summer’ without the new labels properly advising them.

The original deadline for compliance has already passed, but there is a fear that the FDA will bow to pressure from these manufacturers by the time the next deadline comes. While sunscreen is important, there will not be a shortage, as evidenced by the manufacturers who have already managed to comply with the new label rules. Urge the FDA to keep this deadline and not continue to extend it.


Dear Food and Drug Administration,

Recently, you extended the deadline for sunscreen manufacturers to comply with new label rules. This was intended to give manufacturers time to change their labels without causing a shortage of sunscreen for the summer. However, without proper labeling on sunscreen, consumers still likely to get burned and be at risk for skin cancer.

I ask you to not continue to extend this deadline. Unclear labeling of sunscreen can be just as harmful to consumers as not wearing sunscreen at all. Some manufacturers already have products complying with the new rules on the shelves, so the one extended deadline is clearly enough time for compliance. No matter the pressure from manufacturers, the deadline should not be extended again.


[Your Name Here]

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