Is There Such A Thing As Waterproof Sunscreen?

A common question we get about sunscreen from clients during the warm, summer months is, “Is there such a thing as a waterproof sunscreen?” The answer is no. Here’s why.

The FDA has yet to a successfully test a topical product that can fully protect the skin from damaging UVA and UVB Rays while being wet or submerged in water. Tests performed by the FDA have revealed that sunscreen gets washed off the skin by water or sweat, making it less effective.

As of December 2012, new FDA regulations went into effect regarding sunscreen in an effort to help consumers make better, educated choices when it comes to shopping for sunscreen. According to the new FDA regulations, sunscreen manufacturers can no longer make claims that their product is “waterproof”, “sweatproof” or label their product as a “sunblock.” Through numerous testings, the FDA has come to the conclusion that there’s no such thing as a topical product that is works effectively in water, on excessively sweaty skin or can completely block damaging UV Rays from the skin.

Sunscreen manufactures can however make water resistant claims on their product’s front label as long as it states how much time a user can expect to get the declared SPF level of protection while swimming or sweating. These claims are based on the FDA’s standard testing. With the “water resistance” labeling, only time limits of either 40 minutes or 80 minutes are permitted.

Another new regulation that was put into effect by the FDA regarding sunscreen was that manufactures can no longer claim immediate or “instant” sun protection upon application or protection for more than two hours without reapplication of the product. The only way sunscreen manufacturers can get around including these claims on the product’s label is by submitting additional data and getting approval from the FDA.

Even though a sunscreen may be labeled “water-resistant” or “waterproof”, there’s a good chance that the product will wash off during swimming or excessive sweating, leaving the skin unprotected. To be sure that your skin is always protected while sweating or participating in water activities, remember to always reapply sunscreen each time you come out of the water and that you must always reapply sunscreen every two hours.

Need helping finding the right sunscreen for you and your level of sun exposure? Come into any one of our three locations in Palo Alto, Walnut Creek or Mill Valley for a free consultation.


Disclaimer: Information and content within this blog is provided for informational purposes only.  This blog is not intended to provide medical advice, and anything read here should not be construed as such.  Reading this blog or communicating with our staff does not create a physician-patient relationship.  If you have questions about any health issue, including something you may have read here, please consult a licensed, trained physician or health professional immediately.

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