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How much sun protection does a moisturiser offer?

January 20, 2011

While sitting down to my thrice nightly cuppa I happened upon this thought-provoking article from Cosmetic Design about the sun protection provided by moisturising creams, read it here.

Well it did get me thinking, especially as yesterdays review of the ‘cheap as chips’ Lidl moisturiser claiming to have UV protection seemed a bit light on  filters, so what exactly is the deal?

Different countries have different laws on sun protection products and the claims that they can make, this un-level playing field can add an extra layer of confusion to the average punter with little time to read up on the laws of the land.   As a general rule of thumb I wouldn’t pay attention to ANY sun protection claims that aren’t backed up with an official SPF number.   Further, I wouldn’t risk my skin out under the sun in anything that didn’t look like having broad-spectrum protection, that is UVA and UVB coverage and this is why….

  • Our skin has evolved to cope with the sun in all of its natural glory. Messing with the balance of things by using filters that only block a small part of the burning rays may end up causing you more problems than it solves.
  • Labelling that ‘hints’ at sun protection or mentions it in passing may only offer a casual level of protection and this may leave you more exposed than you would have liked.
  • In most countries the efficacy testing on a moisturiser is nowhere near as stringent as that required on a sunscreen.  Other active ingredients in your anti-ageing or specialist moisturiser may have a detrimental effect on the sun filter efficacy or may drag these actives further into the skin, making them less available to do their work. A lack of need for testing can mean that things like this are not always  picked up by the manufacturer.
  • A lack of information to back up the products UV protection level makes it more difficult to manage your sun exposure. This can lead to burning, premature ageing and irritation.

In a nutshell I would choose a moisturiser/ anti-ageing / protective cream for its skin-feel and consistency (non-core ingredients), its formulating philosophy (which ingredients it uses/ leaves out,  certification etc) and it’s range and quantity of core non-uv actives.   If it offers UV protection as an extra that’s all well and good but I wouldn’t be ditching my sunscreen in a hurry.

Horses for courses!

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