This week marks National Skin Cancer Action Week (November 15-21), which acts as a reminder to use sun protection while also highlighting the importance of early skin cancer detection for all Australians.
Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world and according to Cancer Council, skin cancers account for roughly 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers across the country. More than 95% of skin cancer cases are caused by unprotected exposure to UV radiation from the sun, making many of these preventable.
This week, think about the measures you take to protect yourself against the sun. Do you own a wide-brimmed hat? Do cover your skin when in the sun? While you’re at it, consider downloading the SunSmart app, which tells you the UV in your area and alerts you to pop on sun protection. And, take a look at the SPF products you’re using on a daily basis. If your only means of sun protection is via a moisturiser or foundation with SPF, it’s time to make a change.
Using products with added SPF isn’t enough
Many lotions and moisturisers boast SPF protection, with the majority offering SPF 15+ to 30+. Although, in recent years, brands have started to create lotions, foundations and tinted moisturisers with SPF 50+ protection. While using a product with added SPF might seem like a time-saver, you probably don’t use enough of the product to get adequate sun protection.
Take a tinted moisturiser or foundation, for example. SunSmart says that adults need a full teaspoon of sunscreen for their head and neck for proper protection. Chances are, you’re not using a teaspoon worth of foundation which means you’re not protecting your skin adequately. And, on top of that, we doubt that you reapply another teaspoon of product two hours later, which is recommended.
Scientist, SPF enthusiast and creative, Hannah English, conducted an experiment with this to demonstrate just how much product is necessary for protection. English applied a full teaspoon of her IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Illuminating CC Cream SPF50+ and the results speak for themselves.
What English experienced was a thick lather of foundation that wasn’t blendable and instead, sat heavy and sticky on her skin. Not ideal.
The application of SPF added products isn’t as thorough
In fact, research from 2019 found that people who use facial moisturisers with added SPF over regular sunscreen tend to miss sensitive areas like the eyelids more than if they were using sunscreen.
The study, which included 84 participants (22 males and 62 females), looked at how people applied an SPF moisturiser versus a sunscreen. According to Healthline, researchers were surprised to find that application to the face with moisturiser was significantly worse than with sunscreen. Data showed that 16.6% failed to properly cover their face with the SPF moisturiser compared to 11.1% with sunscreen.
“We expected the eyelid areas to be better covered by moisturiser compared to sunscreen as we thought the perception would be that moisturisers would cause less eye-stinging if they accidentally seeped into the eyes. Or we expected to find no difference between the two,” senior study author Austin McCormick told Healthline.
“We haven’t been able to find out exactly why our participants covered less facial area with moisturiser than sunscreen. It is possible that subconsciously people are not as thorough as when they are applying a product to specifically protect the skin, but this is speculation.”
Changing your habits
If you’re still relying on products with added SPF as your sun protection, now is a great time to make a change. Adding a dedicated sunscreen into your routine doesn’t take long and should actually be treated much like a skincare product — something that is a non-negotiable and used every day. No matter the weather.
There are a number of wonderful sunscreens on the market for your face and body (yes, using two separate ones is best!) as well as drugstore sunscreens that are budget-friendly and have a great texture so can be worn every day on their own or layered under makeup.
Just remember that wearing two products with SPF (sunscreen and a foundation for example) doesn’t add up to a higher level of protection. SPF isn’t additive, unfortunately, so opt for an SPF 50+ sunscreen and reapply every two hours. If you’re stuck as to how to reapply over makeup, we’ve got you covered.