Is your sunscreen keeping you safe?

ome of the chemicals in popular sunscreens might not be as safe as consumers probably imagine, and the Food and Drug Administration has now issued a plan to update its regulations.

This goes for all sunscreen products marketed in the United States. The news was announced in February.

The plan is expected to touch on the safety of sunscreen ingredients and sunscreen dosage forms; sun protection factor, or SPF; and requirements for testing, labeling and broad-spectrum protection, according to published reports.

Two sunscreen ingredients, oxybenzone and avobenzone, will be examined as health experts try to learn more information.

This proposal would bring over-the-counter sunscreens that were marketed without FDA-approved applications up-to-date with the latest science, officials said.

Here’s more on what exactly the FDA wants to look at:

  • Active ingredient safety

Right now, only two of the 16 currently marketed active ingredients in sunscreen are deemed “GRASE” by the FDA. GRASE stands for “generally recognized as safe and effective.” Those two ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Two other ingredients, PABA and trolamine salicylate, are not considered safe, and they’re also not on the U.S. market. Officials said they don’t believe they have sufficient data to make a determination on the other 12 ingredients, which are cinoxate, dioxybenzone, ensulizole, homosalate, meradimate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, padimate O, sulisobenzone, oxybenzone and avobenzone.

  • Dosage forms

Currently, the GRASE label has gone out for sprays, oils, lotions, creams, gels, butters, pastes, ointments, and sticks, meaning they’re considered safe and effective. The verdict is still out when it comes to powders, wipes, towelettes, body washes, shampoos and other forms.

  • SPF

The rule would raise the maximum SPF value on labels from 50-plus to 60-plus. Products with an SPF of 15 or higher must also provide broad-spectrum protection. As SPF increases, the protection against UVA rays must also increase, one report said.

  • Labeling

Active ingredients must be shown on the front of the product. That’s the case with other over-the-counter products, right? The format for labeling SPF, broad spectrum and water resistance would be changed under the plan, as well.

  • Testing

The FDA is expected to report back with its expectations when it comes to record keeping on various products on the market.

  • Combination products

One FDA official said products that combine sunblock with insect repellent, for example, are not GRASE.

Even though a lot is up in the air when it comes to sunscreen, regulations, the proposal and a final ruling, experts said people should still continue to use their preferred products.

“It’s important to understand that the proposed rule does not conclude that the sunscreens currently on the market are unsafe,” said Dr. Suzanne M. Olbricht, president of the American Academy of Dermatology Association, in a statement.

Doctors urge you to reapply sunscreen every two hours you spend outside, and to switch to a higher SPF, of at least 50, if you plan on spending long stretches of time in the sun.