University of Liverpool research, published April 3, 2019 shows moisturizers with sun protection factor (SPF) provide less sun protection than the equivalent strength sunscreen in real-world scenarios, and people are more likely to miss areas of their face when using them.
Researchers from the University of Liverpool looked at the application habits of people who used moisturizers with SPF and those who used regular sunscreen. Many moisturizers contain the same SPF as traditional sunscreens, but until now there's been a lack of research on how they compare in terms of coverage and protection. SPF, which stands for sun protection factor, measures a sunscreen's ability to block sunburn-causing rays.
The study involved 84 participants who were exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and photographed using a UV-sensitive camera on two separate visits. During the first visit, photos were taken before and after they applied either SPF 30 sunscreen or moisturizer. During the second visit, the study was repeated with the other formulation.
The study studied how well volunteers applied sunscreen versus SPF moisturizer on their faces. The researchers found people were significantly worse about covering all areas of their face when they applied the SPF moisturizer, as compared to the sunscreen. In particular, many of them missed applying it to their eyelid region.
"When applying both sunscreen and moisturizer, the area around to eyes is often missed, particularly near the nose," the study authors wrote. "Participants covered a smaller area of the face when using moisturizer compared to sunscreen."
Skin Cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with more than 3 million people diagnosed each year, according to the American Cancer Society. The best way to prevent skin cancer is to apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of the skin.
The study authors say people should pay particular attention to the eyelid area when applying SPF. They also recommend considering alternative methods of protecting the eyes from the sun's harmful rays, such as UV-filter sunglasses.
They conclude that when spending long periods of time outside, traditional sunscreen is the way to go. "Moisturizer is not as well applied as sunscreen; therefore, if planning prolonged sun exposure we advise sunscreen be used. If using moisturizer we advise one with SPF: any SPF is better than none but it should not be considered the equal of sunscreen," they write.
It's not too surprising that people didn't cover their eyelids well. Many chemical sunscreen ingredients cause eyes to sting when sunscreen is near or seeps into consumers eyes.
Europe has stricter regulations regarding UVA protection than the US, requiring one-third of a sunscreen’s SPF factor to protect against UVA rays.
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