In no way have I been naive to the importance of daily SPF, but recently the method in which I apply it has decidedly changed. Watching a news story about sun damage caused by using a moisturizer with SPF compared to actual SPF had me second guessing my daily routine. If you are like me, chances you are not getting the complete coverage you need. I may have been trying to skip a step in my already long routine – I am a self-proclaimed lazy beauty girl – but these new studies have me thinking twice.
In a study by the British Association of Dermatologists, participants were photographed with a specially modified camera that captured different usage of SPF. The participants were photographed separately applying sunscreen and then using a moisturizer with 30 SPF. When the skin was successfully protected, the protected area would appear black in the photos. Using this photographic evidence, the researchers were able to see that moisturizers with SPF were less efficient at blocking UV rays compared to conventional sunscreens.
The main reasoning behind the effectiveness of the SPF is that we really slather it on. For the most part, we tend to lay on SPF thickly, regardless of the level of protection. So in the tests, no matter the factor of the protection, it was theorized that the application is what was lacking when it came to moisturizers. Analysis of the photos had shown that when applying moisturizer, people missed 16 percent of their face coverage, whereas when applying sunscreen it dropped to 11 percent.
“Unfortunately, moisturizer with SPF just doesn’t perform particularly well in real-world situations compared to sunscreen. Although it may say SPF on the box, this study is just further evidence that lab testing conditions for these products don’t reflect how they are used,” says Matthew Gass, part of the British Association of Dermatologists.
The other factor that came into play was certain areas were missed when applying moisturizer with sun protection. Even with SPF, we tend to miss some areas, but with this study, it was shown that while using the moisturizer a higher percentage of areas had been missed.The area that gets hit the hardest: your eyelids. Eyelids are highly missed when applying any kind of protection and it is an area that is highly susceptible to cancer. When the high-risk areas were analyzed, sunscreen users missed 14 percent compared to 21 percent with moisturizer. One hypothesis to this is that we tend to think moisturizer may irritate our eyes more when it comes in contact, so we just tend to avoid it all together. Even though your moisturizer may have a high SPF, chances are you not applying it in the same way you would SPF. “Although moisturizers with SPF do provide sun protection, our research suggests that it’s not on the same level as sunscreen. We would not recommend it as a like-for-like replacement for your sun protection needs,” states Austin McCormick – a researcher from the study.
Another point worth noting is that while moisturizer may contain SPF, it may not contain UVA protection, which protects you against UV ageing. It is also less likely to be rub-resistant or water resistant.
Moisturizers and makeup that contain some level of sun protection is definitely better than nothing at all, but since reading about the study, I am taking the extra step in my routine and actually slathering on an independent SPF. Especially with the sunnier days upon us, I am not playing any games. Also, if you are going to be continuously exposed to the sun during the day, sunscreen should be applied every two hours or after you swim, sweat or towel dry yourself. Extra sun protection outside of sunscreen should be on your packlist as well. Sunglasses, hats, and protective clothing can give your sunscreen a helping hand. Stay protected out there Pretty Birds.