Summer Nears, Can Your Sunscreen Handle It? - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Summer Nears, Can Your Sunscreen Handle It?

With summer just around the corner, we have an important health alert.

Your sunscreen might not be giving you the protection you need to stay healthy and young looking.

Leah Smith visits her dermatologist to keep her skin looking as young as possible.

"Well, I think it's important to me like it is to any woman," said Smith.

She always uses sunscreen, but admits she's no expert on how to choose one.  

"I'm not that educated about it honestly," said Smith.

Leah looks for a high "sun protection factor" or SPF. 

"I usually use a 45," said Smith.

That's a good start but SPF refers mostly to ultra-violet "b" or UVB rays. 

Those are the ones that give you a sunburn. 

Doctor Jennifer Cather says there's more evidence than ever that ultra-violet "a" or UVA rays are just as much of a danger.

"They can penetrate into your skin and they have been linked with photo-aging wrinkles," said Dr. Cather.

The problem is, many sun worshippers and even sunscreen manufacturers pay more attention to UVB rays.

"I think everybody's more aware of the UVB rays because of the sunburn risk," said Dr. Cather.

To raise awareness about UVA, the food and drug administration has proposed a new labeling system like this one. 

Sunscreens would still have an SPF number but also a separate UVA rating from one to four stars.

Some manufacturers already promote their UVA and UVB protection but you may start seeing the new rating system as soon as this summer.

There are also products on the market containing a powerful new sun-fighting chemical.

One version is called Helioplex.

"UVA, UVB, and it's more stable," said Dr. Cather.

"I want to remain looking as young as I can for as long as I can," said patient Leah Smith.

Leah is living proof that shielding you from the sun can slow the hands of time.   

The FDA has also proposed cracking down on terms such as "waterproof", and "sweat proof."

Experts say those claims can be misleading.

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