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Get the Scoop Behind the FDA’s New SPF Regulations

Every summer, the prospect of choosing a sunscreen inspires the same set of questions: How high should I go SPF-wise? Which ingredients are safe? What does “broad spectrum” really mean? This year, we have a little help from the experts themselves: the FDA just released a new set of SPF regulations designed to help consumers choose wisely. The agency has been monitoring sunscreen labels since 1978, but this marks the first time they’ve stepped in to overhaul the way the industry labels its products. Although the changes technically went into effect this past Monday, don’t expect to see them kick in immediately—in order to prevent a sunscreen shortage, the FDA is allowing stores to continue selling existing bottles of SPF. Large companies will have a year to update their labels, while smaller companies will have two years. 

Click through for a brief rundown of the new guidelines:

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Sunscreen Fit To Throw in Your Beach Bag All Summer

As a very pale person from a family with a history of skin cancer, I know I should be loading up on SPF at all times. Lately, I’ve been using a BB Cream with SPF to protect my face, but as warmer weather rolls in I’ll need something to protect the rest of my body, too. The only problem? I fear I won’t remember to slather it on as often as I should. In case you weren’t aware, the general rule of thumb goes like this: take the SPF value and multiple it by the amount of time it would normally take for your skin to burn—that’s how often you should reapply. For me, that means SPF 30 times 10 minutes, or every 5 hours. Of course, that number doesn’t account for swimming or excessive sweating, which (let’s be honest) is a pretty constant problem in 90-degree weather. In those cases, you should be reapplying every 40 minutes, which means that finding a non-sticky, non-gross sunscreen should be a goal for everyone. 

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Here’s Photographic Evidence That Sun Damage Is Real

Can you tell which half of this man’s face has been exposed to more sunlight?
Photo: gizmodo.com

Just in case you thought that we’ve been pulling your leg about the importance of SPF, here’s a picture for you to consider: this 69-year-old gentleman’s face has been exposed to significantly more sunlight on one half of his face for 25 years. Can you tell which side is which? 

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Beach Bum: Mood Board

Our creative team is pretty, well, creative and they come across beautiful imagery all the time. Why not share the inspiration? Keep an eye out each Friday for their Mood Board, a collection of images they’re loving.

1. pinterest.com/keepitgyspy 2. pinterest.com/chantalnijhof 3. asuyeta.com 4. everythingyoulovetohate.tumblr.com 5. rikshawdesign.blogspot.com 6. pinterest.com

As the days get warmer, the beach is calling our name. It’s time for sun and sand! Swimsuits come in every cut imaginable this season, which gives you endless options for cool surf-side style. Don’t forget to bust out the sunnies and beachy cover-ups, too. But most of all, be sure to pile on the SPF! Practicing safe sun is totally on trend.

Even if you didn’t go to the beach, you can still get gorgeous beachy waves

Sunscreen Secrets For Every Skin Type: Guest Blogger

This week’s guest blogger, Rodan Luo, is a lawyer by day and stylish blogger by night. We can’t get enough of her blog, full of eloquent musings and excellent advice. Since she’s also one of our jetsetter role models (the frequent traveler was most recently in Sayulita, Mexico), she’ll be blogging all week about ways to make travel even more awesome.

I strongly believe that every girl needs at least three people in her life: a best friend for when she needs a way to get out of a sticky situation (e.g., the phone call in the middle of an awkward date), a therapist to listen to her problems and help unwind her dark twisty side, and most importantly, a dermatologist who will show her how to be her skin’s biggest champion.

Last summer, I found my dermatologist in the form of one sweet and charming Texan, Dr. Heidi Prather, M.D. There are so many great things about her: she’s approachable, she’s intelligent, and most importantly, she has glowing perfect skin herself. She told me early on that putting on sunscreen is the most important thing a woman can do in terms of skincare. So, when I wanted to put up a post about the importance of always traveling with your sunscreen, it’s no surprise why I went to her for some advice. Here’s what she had to say:

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Memorial Day Must-Haves: Rachelista

This weekend marks the official start of summer, which means that Birchboxers have plans to kick back, rest up, and hopefully bask in some serious sunshine. We asked several of our staffers where they’re headed (stay-cations sound as enticing as traveling) and the must-have product they’re bringing along. Here’s what merchandising market manager Rachel, a.k.a. Rachelista, had to say. 

I’m headed to Nantucket for the Figawi sailing race. A sunburn is so not sexy, so I’ve packed my entire Supergoop! City and Sand Tote, which is packed with all my sunscreen essentials in TSA-approved sizes. 

Here’s a cheat sheet to other awesome sunscreens!

Supergoop! Launches Project Backpack

Around the Birchbox office, I am known as the sunblock pusher. “Don’t forget your SPF” and “be sure to reapply throughout the day” are things you will commonly hear me saying. As a fair-skinned gal, I learned in my early twenties the dangers of being casual with your sun protection. Ever since, I’ve tried to spread the good SPF word. That’s why I was particularly excited to meet Holly Thaggard, the founder of sunscreen empire Supergoop!, recently in New York.

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Hurrah! Clarins Cult SPF Gets an Update

A few years ago, I went on a search for a daily SPF that I could wear all summer long. I had long list of criteria: I wanted something light and mattifying that wouldn’t give my skin a ghostly cast. It also had to have SPF 30 or more, since I didn’t want to be worrying about reapplying constantly. Oh, and I needed a bottle that was 3.2 fl oz or less, so I could take it with me on flights. 

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Dollars & Sense: Why This Smart Sunscreen Trumps a Sun Hat

The best skincare products may not be cheap, but trust us: they’re worth every penny. Every week, we’ll break down the math and show you exactly why that fancy serum or cream is a smart splurge. This week, we’re showing off one of our brand new products! 


Our pick of the week: We’re total sunscreen geeks here at Birchbox HQ, but even the most SPF savvy among us were blown away by NIA 24’s Sun Damage Prevention Sunscreen. As the name suggests, the broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen shields us from both UVA and UVB rays, but it also has the miraculous ability to fade the signs of past sun exposure (read: dark spots) and fortify skin against future damage. How does it work? The brand’s buzzed-about ingredient, Pro-Niacin, is a refined form of vitamin B that sinks beneath the surface to trigger your cells’ natural repair process. It also boosts your skin’s defense barrier, making it better equipped to deflect harmful solar rays. Plus, we’re happy to report that the creamy lotion isn’t greasy at all and works perfectly under makeup. Learn more about this one-of-a-kind sunscreen after the jump!

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