People using SPF moisturizers vulnerable to skin cancer, research says

Channing applies sunscreen properly. (Credit: WINK News)
Channing applies sunscreen properly. (Credit: WINK News)

Sun protection is important year-round, especially in Florida. But new research shows many of us are leaving vulnerable spots on our face.

The University of Liverpool researchers compares how people use moisturizers with SPF in them to regular sunscreen. They found a simple mistake that opens the door to skin cancer.

“I get burned pretty easily,” Amy Cornelison said, “so I always put on sunblock.”

Cornelison takes sun protection seriously for herself and her son at Lakes Park.

“Oh, it’s very important,” Cornelison said.

She does not just use traditional sunblock. She said she uses a moisturizer that has SPF. Her makeup has SPF, too. It is all to keep her face and eyes safe from the sun’s harmful rays.

But new research published in the journal, “Plos One,” shows people using a moisturizer with SPF are not going far enough to protect their skin.

“If they were told it was moisturizer,” said Dr. Amy Kassouf, a dermatologist, “then they put a light coating on, and they didn’t get very close to their eyes.”

You are leaving exposed areas vulnerable to skin cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with more than 3 million new cases every year.

In the study, participants were given moisturizer with SPF to use and then regular sunblock. After each application, they were exposed to ultraviolet light. It is the kind that comes from the sun.

Then, they were photographed with a special camera. The pictures showed people did an inadequate job covering up around the eyes with moisturizer and a good job using traditional sunscreen.

“If they were told it was a sunscreen, then they got it right up to the edge, right up to their eyes,” Dr. Kassouf said.

Dr. Kassouf said protecting around the eyes is paramount as the skin is thinner and more prone to sun damage. Whether you are using sunscreen or a moisturizer with sunscreen, she recommends applying products liberally and often. She said it is best to apply approximately twice as much as you think you will need.

For extra protection, Dr. Kassouf also recommends using other methods of sun protection, such as SPF clothing, broad-spectrum sunglasses, hats, combining things, so you are getting less chemical exposure overall while having better protection.

It is something Cornelison said she would consider the next time she heads outdoors.

“There’s never too much,” Cornelison said. “There can never be too much sunblock.”

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