Does your moisturizer protect you from the sun? Think again.

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: July 25th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

With all the warnings about skin cancer, many of us slather on a moisturizer every morning that we hope will deliver a one-two punch. Not only will it ward away wrinkles, it should protect us from the sun.

But a recent study shows we shouldn’t put too much faith in the beauty industry to keep us safe from the sun. In fact, few daily moisturizers offer adequate protection against ultraviolet A, also known as UVA radiation.

The sun emits different types of radiation. The two that make it to earth and can damage our skin are UVA and UVB. UVB is the troublemaker to blame for most sunburns and has long been associated with skin cancer. UVA was once considered relatively safe but no more. Now scientists believe both kinds of radiation can contribute to cancer.

The SPF of a sunscreen only refers to how well it protects from UVB radiation. There is no standard when it comes to UVA radiation, although many moisturizers claim to offer protection from both.

To test this, researchers evaluated twenty-nine different products that promised to guard against UVA and UVB rays. The names of the products weren’t provided, but they ranged in price from three dollars to sixty-four dollars per ounce.

They found six of the twenty-nine products offered no UVA filter. Of the twenty-three that did offer protection, many had very low amounts of the active ingredients. And there was no correlation between price and protection. In fact, the most expensive brand of moisturizer offered no UVA filter at all.

So reach for a healthy dose of skepticism along with your morning moisturizer. Until the industry demands clear labeling of the amount of UVA protection, you’re best off limiting your exposure to the sun and adding a dab of sunscreen to your daily routine.