Just how safe is our sunscreen application?

Just how safe is our sunscreen application?

Please excuse me while I write this, with two fans aimed directly at my face, window open to catch the merest hint of a breeze and a cold shower planned before bed. You see, Britain is in the midst of a somewhat uncharacteristic hot spell. OK, so this week we had a few days of rain – of course while the Prance clan were camping – but on the whole, the past month has been nothing short of a heatwave.
And, as the mother of two daughters, it’s safe to say we have pretty much taken out shares in sun screen and as we’re now safely embedded in the school holidays I spend more time applying it than I do making hot dinners.

However, according to new research, it seems I could have been getting the application wrong all these years. Of course, I opt for the highest possible factor 50 for my little people, and go for a factor 30 for myself. But researchers at King’s London College have discovered that merely choosing a high factor may not be sufficient enough to warrant successful protection from the sun. Conducting a study of 16 young people, researchers highlighted that consumers are not applying the product thickly enough, therefore not getting the full factor rating from their sunscreen. Worrying to say the least.

Indeed, research found “sunscreen may not fully inhibit sunburn because people typically overestimate protection indicated by the label by using much less sunscreen than [the required] 2 mg/cm2”.
And it seems it’s not just me that’s falling short of the market, with Professor and Study Leader Antony Young told the Guardian, “People are typically getting much less protection than they think.
“For example, if you get SPF20 and use at a lower thickness of 0.75 milligrams per centimetre squared, your level of protection could be as low as SPF4.”

OK, so that’s the application problem debunked, but it seems it wasn’t the only warning to be heeded this summer in terms of sunscreen. I’m sure I’m not the only woman in the world that relies on her SPF moisturizer as their face protection from the sun. However, another recent study has highlighted that consumers are better protected when using SPF sunscreens as opposed to moisturizers, according to researchers from the University of Liverpool.

Discussing why moisturizers with SPF should not be used as an alternative to sunscreen, Austin McCormick, a member of the research team and an consultant ophthalmic and oculoplastic surgeon, said, “Although skin moisturiser with SPF does provide sun protection, our research suggests that it’s not the same degree as sunscreen.
“We do not recommend moisturisers and makeup that contain UV protection – it is better than no protection at all, but for prolonged periods in the sun we recommend the application of sunscreen with high SPF.”

Talking of prolonged periods in the sun, we’re set for yet another hot spell in the coming weeks. So I’ll be heeding these words of wisdom and both applying thick sunscreen layers as well as replacing my moisturizor with sunscreen – and of course maintaining my current position in front of said fans…

To hear more about this subject check out the Consumer Insight Sun Protection videos on Global Cosmetics News.

1 Comment

  1. Shawn

    Important note, I was surprised to find the issue of insufficient reapplication was not also mentioned. Many government guidelines and dermatologist advise SPF should be reapplied every 80-120 minutes. SPF ingredients weaken when exposed to direct sunlight. Consumers often incorrectly assume a higher SPF equates to protection for a longer length of time instead of understanding it provides a higher level of protection for only the same amount of time.
    Reapplication at aforementioned thickness is optimal for adequate protection.

    Reply

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