Sun protection is important year-round, but especially during summer months when we spend more time outdoors.
According to recent research, when it comes to protecting our faces, many of us are missing the mark when it comes to proper sunscreen application.
The study looked at people who were exposed to ultra-violet radiation after applying an SPF 30 moisturizer, and then again after applying an SPF 30 sunscreen.
“If they were told it was moisturizer, then they put a light coating on, and they didn’t get very close to their eyes. Most people put on a separate eye cream, or something like that on when they use a moisturizer,” said Amy Kassouf, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the study. “However, if they were told it was a sunscreen, then they got it right up to the edge, right up to their eyes, they did a much better application, and got better SPF protection from the sunscreen, simply because of the way that they used it.”
Researchers found that not only did people apply less product when using a moisturizer, compared to the sunscreen, but they especially missed applying it around the eye and eyelid areas.
Dr. Kassouf said protecting around the eyes is key, as the skin around the eyes is thinner and more prone to the damaging effects of the sun.
However, you don’t want to get sunscreen in your eyes, or have sunscreen drip into your eyes from sweating, as this can sting.
She recommends wearing sunglasses – because our eyes need sun protection as well.
Dr. Kassouf said wrap-around sunglasses are best, because they also protect around the ‘crow’s feet’ area on the outside of the eyes.
She also encourages people to double up on their protection, and not rely solely on sunscreens to get the job done.
“Using other methods of sun protection – using SPF clothing, using the broad spectrum sunglasses, using hats – combining things, so you’re getting less chemical exposure overall, and better protection.”
Whether using a sunscreen or a moisturizer with sunscreen, Dr. Kassouf recommends applying products liberally, and often. She says it’s best to apply approximately twice as much as someone thinks they need.
“The problem with the way our products are made and tested these days, is we tend to put on a whole lot less than they do when they test the product,” she said. “So you can automatically cut that SPF in half, and that’s about what you’re getting.”
Complete results of the study can be found in PLOS ONE.