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Is a Moisturizer with SPF Enough?

by kelly / February, 3 2021 01:30

Photo of a woman's hands applying SPF moisturizer

The answer to that question is YES – a moisturizer with SPF is enough. But it comes with a caveat. A lot of how effective it is depends on if you’re using the product – or any SPF product really - correctly. Unfortunately many people don’t. Thankfully we’ve got you covered and break down the facts on SPF moisturizers and how to use them properly.

Moisturizers with SPF Are Tested

Moisturizers with SPF (or SPF moisturizers) are enough – they will protect your skin if you use the right amount (we’ll get into that later). That’s because SPF moisturizers, like all SPF products, must be tested to US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) standards.

As one dermatologist Dr. Hadley King so eloquently states it, “it's not like they took a sunscreen of a certain SPF and then diluted it with moisturizer—the finished product must be tested to determine its SPF."

In fact moisturizers with SPF are regulated by the FDA. SPF moisturizers, like sunscreens, are actually classified as over-the-counter drugs by the FDA. This is true of all SPF products – like makeup with SPF for example.

All sunscreens and SPF products must go through FDA regulated testing to prove their SPF value and to determine if the product provides Broad Spectrum protection. SPF is a measure of protection against UVB rays and Broad Spectrum represents protection against UVA rays. Both UVB and UVA rays are responsible for sun and skin damage. Any moisturizer with SPF you choose should provide a certain SPF protection (many experts recommend at least a 15 or 30) and Broad Spectrum protection.

Hey, we just happen to have a great SPF moisturizer if you’re in the market for one Smile.

SPF Moisturizer User Error

Now that you know that moisturizers with SPF are enough – here comes the tricky part. A lot of the hub bub around why people think they are not enough has to do with the fact that SPF moisturizers aren’t used correctly. People have put the blame on the product when it’s really been a case of user error.

Recently there were two studies around SPF moisturizer use one from the journal Plos One and another from University of Liverpool. You can find a lot of articles online citing these two studies and the articles often say the studies prove that SPF moisturizes are not enough. But that’s not actually what the studies found. Instead, both found that people were not applying enough and were not applying it all over to provide protection. In the Plos One study people were specifically missing the area around their eyes. And in the University of Liverpool study people tended to apply sunscreen more liberally than they did SPF moisturizer.

So the answer again is SPF moisturizers are enough and you have to make sure to apply as much as you would a sunscreen and to apply it to all exposed skin – face, neck, chest, hands, etc.

How Much SPF Moisturizer Is Enough?

Of course the next natural question is how much is enough? According to the Skin Cancer Foundation you should apply: “the equivalent of a shot glass (two tablespoons) of sunscreen to the exposed areas of the face and body – a nickel-sized dollop to the face alone.”

And think about this stat from the American Academy of Dermatology “most people only apply 25-50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen”.

So the next time you apply your SPF moisturizer or sunscreen think more is better!

Skin Care Smarts

Now that you know the answer to one of life’s big skin care debates – feel free to practice and share it!

And for even more skin care smarts check out our Skin Care blog series.

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