A Sizzling Sunscreen Debate

Even on a gray summer day, sun worshipers know to do the right thing: slather on the sunscreen lotion.

"We want our cake and we want to eat it too. We want to be able to be in the sun and not burn and not get wrinkles, but you can't really do both," said Jackie, an avid beachgoer.

But the government is concerned that those lotions and potions that are meant to protect us from the sun are misleading, reports CBS News Correspondent Jeffrey Kofman.

"I wear 45," one lifeguard said.

Say farewell to those SPF 45s. The FDA is changing the labeling system that has been used for the last 20 years. Words like "sunblock" and "waterproof" will be forbidden; the FDA says they re exaggerations.

The SPF categories will be simplified to three:

  • Minimum, SPF 2 to 11,
  • Moderate, SPF 12 to 29, and
  • Maximim, SPF 30 or higher.

The last category, 30+, will be the highest. Bigger numbers will be banned because the FDA says there is no accurate way to test at that level.

According to the FDA, the new rules are about consumer protection as much as sun protection. But some say with these changes it's the consumer who is going to get burned.

"The FDA is actually moving backward," according to Dr. Vincent Deleo of St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital.

With skin cancer rates continuing to soar, dermatologists think the FDA should be pushing for more powerful sun protection.

"What's wrong with it is some people need an SPF greater than thirty," Dr. Deleo said.

"Right now we can make products that are above 30," said Irene Malbin, a sunsceen industry spokesperson. "What the FDA has done is say you can't tell a consumer that this particular sunscreen can do more than SPF 30. We think the consumer should have that information."

Who needs the information? People with sensitive skin and people who work outside -- like lifeguards.

"I'm afraid of getting skin cancer," a lifeguard said.

No matter how much sunscreen you use, the safest way to avoid those dangerous rays is by covering up or staying under cover.