Think a daily moisturizer with sun protection factor is really protecting the face from the sun? Think again.
Sunburns are one of the worst things that can happen to the skin. Even without getting an actual red, irritated, and painful burn, exposing the skin to the rays of the sun is one of the things that can speed up the aging process and cause damage like nothing else.
As such, beauty companies have all started pouring SPF into their daily moisturizers to keep our faces protected. After all, most use a daily moisturizer daily, and they also have to face the sun daily, so putting some protection in a moisturizer just makes a whole lot of sense.
Unfortunately, it looks like we’re not getting as much protection from those daily moisturizers with SPF combos as we might have thought. According to a new study presented at the British Association of Dermatologists annual meeting (and reported by Refinery29), moisturizers with SPF just don’t compare to regular sunscreen when it comes to protecting the skin.
The study was performed by researchers at the University of Liverpool and compared the amount of UV rays absorbed by daily moisturizers with SPF versus an actual sunscreen with the same SPF number. Study participants covered their faces and areas of their skin in either moisturizer or sunscreen, and then a special camera designed to detect ultraviolet wavelengths took a series of snapshots.
What scientists found was that the moisturizer covered areas of skin appeared lighter on the camera than sunscreen covered spots. This suggests that the moisturizers didn't absorb as many UV rays as the sunscreen did.
"We expected the area of face covered with moisturizer to be greater than sunscreen, in particular the eyelids, because of the perception that moisturizer stings the eyes less than sunscreen," said study author Austin McCormick, a consultant ophthalmic and oculoplastic surgeon. "In fact, we found the opposite: the area of the face covered effectively was greater with sunscreen than moisturizer. In addition, where it was applied, the moisturizer provided less UV protection than sunscreen."
Still, while a moisturizer with SPF ain’t the same as sunscreen, it’s still better than nothing. Researchers found that although sunscreen was better protection, a moisturizer still blocked some of the sun’s concerning rays, so we should still opt for an SPF moisturizer whenever possible.
But if we're going to spend a whole day out in the sun, don’t expect a moisturizer to save the skin. Slather on the sunscreen and keep complexions protected this summer!