Hello Sun: FDA sunscreen changes riase awareness

Upcoming changes in FDA regulations and greater awareness of the harmful effects of the sun are boosting sales of sun-rated clothing, but causing growing pains in the sunscreen sector.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 2-5. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

This SNEWS Outdoor Retailer Summer Market recap is brought to you by Cordura:

Upcoming changes in FDA regulations and greater awareness of the harmful effects of the sun are boosting sales of sun-rated clothing, but causing growing pains in the sunscreen sector.

For companies like Dermatone, the new FDA rules are a double-edged sword. On one hand, out-of-control high SPF numbers will be reined in. On the other hand, labels for everything, including lip balm, now must bear a full list of drug facts.

Travis Rhandans, the company’s marketing director, weighed the good and bad: “The regulations have added a two-cent-a-label cost to our lip balms, which isn’t great, but we are happy with the regulation change. Thirty SPF is really the magic number, not 100. It is good that the regulations are bringing Neutrogena and other mainstream companies back to reality.”

For UPF (clothing’s answer to SPF) apparel companies, the FDA regulations haven’t affected labels or added cost, and have served to raise awareness. O’Neill’s UV success was due mainly to growth in water sports like SUP. “We used to be mainly surfing,” said John Hunter, product designer, “Now we are coast to coast. The past five to seven years, we have been moving inland. Everyone is trying paddleboarding, and our UV line is exploding. The growth has been the greatest the past three years.”

Body Glove, by contrast, is seeing much of its growth stemming from children’s products and moving up from there. “Honestly,” said Sales Manager Jono Siegel, “what drove sales is kids. Parents don’t want to lather their kids up, so they get UV-rated tops. Then it just looks cool and it works. It’s like wearing sunscreen all day and is completely FDA-regulated.” The combination of cool and convenience has made UV wear boom for Body Glove.

FDA regulation changes, even if a burden for sunscreen companies likely, will be a boon for SPF, UPF and the public in the future. With transparency in labeling, certification and the known effects of the sun, people will be able to enjoy the outdoors safer, and for a longer duration.

--Lorin Paley

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