Is Moisturiser With SPF Enough to Protect Your Skin? We Asked an Expert
We're told over and over again to wear our SPF come rain or shine, but one of the biggest questions asked on the topic is: is SPF in your face cream enough? The answer is, well, it's a little complicated.
Sunscreen helps protect us from skin cancer and minimises other skin concerns — like hyperpigmentation, rosacea, sun spots, and fine lines — making it a super-important step in your skin-care routine to get right. To answer the question of whether moisturiser with SPF provides us with enough sun protection, we asked Sonia Khorana, MBChB, MRCGP, a GP (with a special interest in dermatology) and cosmetic doctor in the West Midlands, to help give us some answers on whether wearing a moisturiser containing SPF is enough to protect us.
Essentially, a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 and a moisturiser with an SPF of 30 both provide the same level of protection as they are both tested in the same way. However, Dr. Khorana explained that moisturiser formulas are less likely to be water- and rub-resistant in the same way that sunscreen is. This is important because the efficacy of SPF wears off over the course of the day and doesn't give you the same level of protection from the sun. For longer exposure to the sun (which includes sitting inside next to a window whilst working on your laptop), it's important to reapply your sunscreen, and even more so if you're wearing a moisturiser containing SPF, as this can wear off quicker.
In addition to this, Dr. Khorana noted, "The amount of moisturiser people put on their face is unlikely to offer the same level of protection a regular sunscreen would." Experts, including Dr. Khorana, recommend applying two full finger lengths' worth of sunscreen — and this same rule applies to moisturisers containing SPF. The other thing to take into account when it comes to moisturisers with SPF is making sure they contain broad-spectrum protection (UVA and UVB).
Sadly, layering a moisturiser with SPF 30 and a separate broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen doesn't equal SPF 60 (trust us, we wish it did too). "Layering sunscreen doesn't increase the amount of active ingredients in the cream," Dr. Khorana said. "The only way to change the SPF is to change the amount of active ingredients within the formulation, and applying more on top doesn't increase that." However, layering a moisturiser with SPF and another sunscreen over the top "does increase your chances of getting the right amount of sunscreen on your face though and you'll also be less likely to miss areas".
For these reasons, Dr. Khorana recommends using both a moisturiser and a separate sunscreen to be on the safe side. Having said that, if you're not someone who remembers to wear sunscreen every single day, or you still haven't found "the one" (we have plenty of favourites to choose from here if you need some help), having a moisturiser with SPF is better than nothing. "Even though it's not recommended, applying a moisturiser with SPF is better than applying no SPF at all," she explained.
In short: Dr. Khorana explained that moisturisers with SPF may be OK if you're quickly nipping out to the shops, but are not well-suited for longer, more deliberate UV exposure.
If you are looking to incorporate a day cream with SPF into your skin-care routine, keep reading to check out some of our favourites.