The Truth About SPF Moisturizer - Is It Enough?


The Truth About SPF Moisturizer - Is It Enough? 


There are a number of products on the market that are fantastic, and some, well they fall a little short.  Not necessarily because of their own doing, though that is often the case, but sometimes it is simply because we don’t use many products as intended.  The use of SPF moisturizer is a great daily habit for the health and appearance of your skin – but the truth of the matter is they simply do not replace the need for sunscreen altogether.  Moisturizers with SPF are great for everyday use, all year round, and are the bare minimum needed if you are caught out in the sun by surprise.  But they are not enough protection on their own, so do not go throwing out all your sunscreens, or limit their use to days at the beach.


Elizabeth A.J. Lourenco and her colleagues, from the University of Liverpool, England, recently conducted a study comparing SPF moisturizers and sunscreens.  In the results researchers found that the application of the SPF moisturizer itself was significantly lacking - those involved in the study simply did not do a thorough job covering all of the skin on their face.  When considering the whole area of the face, 16.6% of the face was completely missed when people used SPF moisturizer, whereas only 11.1% of the face was missed when they had used sunscreen.  The area of skin that was most missed in this study was the delicate skin around the eyes and eyelids, an area very susceptible to skin cancer, and the participants were not even aware of their vulnerable skin exposure.


"When considering the whole area of the face, 16.6% of the face was completely missed when people used SPF moisturizer, whereas only 11.1% of the face was missed when they had used sunscreen." 


At Skin Solutions Dermatology, we believe that SPF (Sun Protection Factor) alone is never enough coverage to protect from sun damage, whether it is in moisturizer or sunscreen form.  The truth is not all sunscreens, or SPF moisturizers, are created equal.  We recommend our patients use products that contain at least 6% Zinc (FYI – we sell some great ones in office and online)!  The beauty of Zinc is it is a natural, physical blocker, that protects our skin from more of the sun rays than non-physical blockers.  If you only look at the SPF when choosing a sunscreen or moisturizer - more often than not you will be purchasing a product with chemical blockers.  These chemical blockers do not block the harmful rays as effectively as Zinc and put you at increased risk for irritant or allergic reactions.  Additionally, these chemical blockers have been shown to have a more negative impact on the environment compared to physical blockers, such as Zinc.  We feel confident that our patients who use products containing Zinc are getting far superior protection against harmful rays than those who use products with a chemical blocker.


"The truth is not all sunscreens, or SPF moisturizers, are created equal."


Whether you choose to use a moisturizer with SPF, or sunscreen daily, ensure you have good protection with the right ingredients.  Remember not all SPF is created equal – using a physical blocker like Zinc is imperative.  So be sure to flip the bottle over and read the active ingredients list, if you see 6% Zinc or higher, great!  When applying any sun protectant, be thorough in your application, and take extra care around the eyes.  Lastly, if you need a more personalized skin care regimen, schedule an appointment with your dermatology office.  We all have different concerns regarding skin health and it never hurts to speak with the professionals.  You only get one body, one skin, and it pays to be cognizant of healthy habits and practices you can implement daily!

Skin Solutions Dermatology has offices located throughout Middle Tennessee, in Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Columbia, Hendersonville, Mt. Juliet, Smyrna, and Pulaski.  Contact us to schedule an appointment at any one of our eight locations!

Source: PLOS ONE



Share this

Dr Pena

About The Author

Dr. Pena is a Board-Certified Medical Dermatologist, Mohs skin cancer surgeon, and cosmetic dermatologist. Her mission is to educate the diverse patient populations she serves, and their communities, on the importance of skin care in decreasing the risk of skin cancer and minimizing the early signs of aging. She founded Skin Solutions Dermatology with numerous clinics in Nashville, Tennessee and surrounding Middle Tennessee.

Dr. Julia Pena, MD

Original text