Eyelids are one of the most vulnerable areas of the skin to sunburn. Eugene Garcia/TNS
People who apply moisturiser with sun protection factor (SPF) to their face tend to miss key areas that could be putting them at risk of skin cancer, new research suggests.
Researchers at the University of Liverpool found that more vulnerable areas of skin, such as the eyelids, are missed when applying moisturisers with SPF to the face compared to conventional sunscreens.
This study, which was published in ‘PLOS One,’ examined how 84 people (62 women and 22 men) applied both SPF moisturiser and sunscreen to their faces.
The participants were then asked to document their application process by taking photographs with a UV-sensitive camera that would enable researchers to identify with areas of the face had been left uncovered.
The researchers found that when SPF moisturiser was applied, 16.6 per cent of the whole face was missed. Meanwhile, when sunscreen was applied, this figure was significantly less, at 11.1 per cent.
The study states that this difference was primarily due to the decreased coverage around the eyelids, with a 21 per cent lower coverage of the area with moisturiser and 14 per cent with sunscreen.
Following the study, participants completed a questionnaire about their sunscreen and SPF moisturiser application habits. It revealed that most people were unaware they had not been fully covering their faces with the latter.
Gently rub sunscreen into your face evenly, and ensure to apply it all over your face for full coverage. Reapply twice a day, but if you are working or spending a lot of time outside, then you need to be applying it every two hours.
The study’s authors stated: “When applying both sunscreen and moisturiser, the area around the eyes is often missed, particularly near the nose. Participants covered a smaller area of the face when using moisturiser compared to sunscreen.”
The researchers concluded that more attention should be paid to the eyelid area when applying any kind of SPF, given how thin this area of skin is.
“Alternative methods of protecting the eyelids should be considered such as UV filter sunglasses,” they added.
“Moisturiser is not as well applied as sunscreen; therefore, if planning prolonged sun exposure we advise sunscreen be used. If using moisturiser we advise one with SPF: any SPF is better than none but it should not be considered the equal of sunscreen.”
Speaking to ‘The Independent,’ Gigi Shaker, senior medical aesthetician at skincare studio Young LDN, explains that the amount of sun cream you apply to your face and neck should be the size of a 10p piece.
"Gently rub it into your face evenly, and ensure to apply it all over your face for full coverage," she advises.
"Reapply twice a day, but if you are working or spending a lot of time outside, then you need to be applying it every two hours. Be aware if you’re touching your face, working up a sweat or playing sports; water, sweat and even rubbing makes sun cream slide off your skin quickly, leaving you unprotected."
Over-exposure of sun to the eyelid area has been linked to basal cell carcinoma (BCC), which is a non-melanoma skin cancer that is most common on areas such as the face, head, ears and neck. BCC is also the most common type of all skin cancers in the UK.
To protect your skin in the sun, the British Skin Foundation advises wearing a sunscreen with a high protection SPF (SPF 30 or more) and wearing a pair of UV protective sunglasses.
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