Let’s talk about SPF moisturisers

As our sunny summer days descend, sunscreen is integral to my get-ready ritual (the possibility of skin cancer, wrinkles and pigmentation are just too real for my lily-white skin). The only thing is when it is just too darn hot, I hate having a thick layer of creams on my face – first moisturiser, then sunscreen and then makeup. So a SPF moisturiser would be ideal right? Sounds like the perfect all-in-one easy and convenient solution to me.

But, an important question to ask is whether SPF moisturisers are as effective as a UV protection sunscreen? With our fierce African sun beating down upon us, you gotta be hundred percent sure! So I decided to look into SPF moisturisers and whether we should rather be using them or not. Here’s a rundown of everything there is to know.

Let’s first get to the nitty gritty

I had a look at research conducted by the University of Liverpool, where both a SPF moisturiser and sunscreen were tested on participants. Basically, photographic evidence was gathered using a special camera designed to pick up UV light. When a photo was taken of the participants, the UV light was absorbed by the SPF in the moisturiser or sunscreen respectively. A darker image meant that more light was absorbed, implying that the area of skin was well-protected from the harsh UV rays. This study revealed that the images coming out lighter were of participants wearing SPF moisturiser. So does this tell us that SPF moisturisers offer less protection from harmful UV rays?

Well, the fact of the matter is that lab testing on these products may not reflect how they are used. Based on these findings the researchers saw that when using the SPF moisturiser, participants only covered 84% of their faces. In other words the participants were not applying SPF moisturisers as generously as they would have with sunscreen. This makes sense I suppose. I know I tend to pile on the sunscreen if I know I’m going to be spending a lot of time outdoors in the sun; whereas I generally apply a light layer of moisturiser onto my face.

So, does a moisturiser or even makeup containing SPF provide our skin with enough protection?

While this study has interesting takeaways, the fact of the matter is that a SPF moisturiser will probably not offer as much protection, as they won’t perform as well as a high SPF sunscreen – especially in our South African summer season. It all comes down to providing the skin with enough protection.

It’s super important to give your skin an optimal concentration of UVA and UVB protection. By optimal I mean about a teaspoon amount for your face and neck. That’s a lot!

The problem with SPF moisturisers are that they are more diluted and do not quite cut it. You would literally have to cake the stuff on your face for it to be as effective as sunscreen.

Does that mean I shouldn’t wear an SPF moisturiser?

Here’s the thing: SPF moisturisers tend to be more expensive. If you have the cash money, by all means go for it! As long as you wear a proper SPF 50 sunscreen as well. If you are, however, strapped for cash, you might do better to spend your money on a good, SPF-free moisturiser – which tends to be more affordable, and a high quality SPF. More expensive sunscreens often have a better texture and a better combination of hard-working ingredients including free-radical fighting antioxidants.

In the end, wearing an SPF moisturiser will only add a layer of protection, and that certainly sounds better to me!

Also to keep in mind a sunscreen should reapplied throughout the day. The more exposed your face is to light and air, the less effective it becomes. So keep slathering on the sunscreen. And don’t forget about the hat and sunglasses of course!

What are your views on using SPF moisturisers? I’d like to know. Feel free to share in the comment section below.

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