Forgetting to apply SPF to your eyelids could increase your risk of skin cancer

New research has found we’re missing our eyelids when applying SPF moisturiser [Photo: Getty]
New research has found we’re missing our eyelids when applying SPF moisturiser [Photo: Getty]

When it comes to protecting our face from sunburn we know we’re supposed to slather on the SPF moisturiser. But, turns out we’re missing an essential part and it could be putting us at risk of skin cancer.

SPF facial moisturisers can be effective in blocking the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet rays, but only if you use them correctly.

And a new study published Wednesday in PLOS One, has found that people are significantly less careful about achieving full coverage using SPF moisturisers than they are with sunscreen, exposing vulnerable patches of skin to UV rays.

Researchers found we’re scrimping on sun protection around the eyelids when we’re using SPF moisturiser.

But unfortunately this region is where the skin is thinner and more vulnerable to burning.

READ MORE: SPF cream during the winter: Should we be wearing it?

The research team at the University of Liverpool studied how 84 people (62 women and 22 men) put on both SPF moisturiser and sunscreen, then took photos with a UV-sensitive camera showing how well they had covered their faces.

The researchers found that nearly 17% of the face was missed out with SPF moisturiser compared with 11% for sunscreen.

There was 21% lower coverage of the area around the eyelids with moisturiser and 14% with sunscreen.

“The eyelid skin is very thin and this puts it at risk of UV damage,” explained Austin McCormick, study author and consultant ophthalmic and oculoplastic surgeon, from Aintree University Hospital Trust.

“The area around the eyelashes and between the eyelids and the nose is least likely to be covered.”

Sunglasses could help protect eyelids that have been missed with the SPF [Photo: Getty]
Sunglasses could help protect eyelids that have been missed with the SPF [Photo: Getty]

Mr McCormick said that eyelid cancers accounted for 10% of all basal cell carcinomas in the UK, the most common type of skin cancer, so people should pay particular attention to the eyelid area when putting on any SPF cream.

The team suggested that sunglasses with UV filters can help protect missed areas, while protective clothing could also help.

“A good way to avoid problems such as sunburn in areas missed when applying sun protection is to make use of protective clothing such as sun hats and sunglasses, as well as reapplying regularly,” Holly Barber, from the British Association of Dermatologists told BBC.

READ MORE: What does the number on your SPF cream actually mean?

Your eyelids isn’t the only part of your face vulnerable to sunburn. Last year actress Busy Philipps opened up about the fact that she had been diagnosed with photokeratitis, or sunburn in her actual eyes.

According to Mr Sanjay Mantry, consultant ophthalmologist at BMI Ross Hall Hospital in Glasgow photokeratitis is an extremely painful condition that is caused when the surface layer of the eye – the clear ‘cornea’ – is exposed to UV light.

“This can be from natural sources, such as direct sun rays or sun rays reflected on sand, water, ice or snow, and also from man-made sources of UV light like tanning lamps and arc welders,” Dr Mantry told Yahoo UK.

According to AXA PPP Healthcare overexposing your eyes to UV rays can lead to cataracts and rare types of eye cancer.