Oh, Europe: Land of health care, sexy accents, and skinny people. Another thing they’ve got going for them that we don’t? Superior sunscreen. Apparently, many sun protection products sold in the United States only guard the skin from ultraviolet B rays (UVB). When you’re browsing lotions for a high SPF, do you actually know what that means? Here in the States, it stands for sun protection factor, which gauges a product’s effectiveness only against these UVB rays (which can be responsible for skin cancer and wrinkles), but might not tell you how well it protects the skin from UVA rays, reports The New York Times. In Europe, many sunscreens contain a UVA-blocking ingredient called Tinosorb M, which is unapproved in America. From the viewpoint of Europeans, America needs to seriously catch up with the rest of the world. The president of fancy French beauty company Clarins tells the Times,”In the States, we are selling an obsolete generation of sun protection … It’s a bit upsetting.” What’s even more disturbing is exactly how far behind we are. The FDA has been arguing over sunscreen labels for ages, and has never come up with a new system: “In the absence of new rules, consumers are left with sunscreen regulations that date back to the Carter administration — 1978 — when the science of sun protection was far more primitive.” 1978?!
Now you know to monitor your labels next time you’re shopping the drugstore sunblock aisle. And you can find European beauty brands online, but you may find yourself paying an arm and a leg for shipping. Our advice: ask friends traveling overseas to stock up on some for you. Way better than any kitchen magnet souvenir. [NY Times]