SUNSCREEN users are leaving themselves at risk of skin cancer because they fail to put it on properly, a study found.
Researchers warn most sun worshippers get less than half of the protection they think because they apply the cream too thinly.
An average of a teaspoon of sun cream is required to adequately protect your face[/caption]
Manufacturers test their products using 2mg of sun cream for every square centimetre of skin – around a teaspoon for the face.
But boffins from Kings College London found a factor 50 applied in the typical way provides just 40 per cent of the expected protection.
Study leader Prof Antony Young suggests people use a “much higher” factor than they think they need to compensate for the difference.
Scientists say people should generally opt for a higher SPF, given that the typical application is thinner than is recommended[/caption]
He added: “There is no dispute that sunscreen provides important protection against the cancer causing impact of the sun’s ultra violet rays.
“However, what this research shows is that the way sunscreen is applied plays an important role in determining how effective it is.
“Given that most people don’t use sunscreens as tested as tested by manufacturers, it’s better for people to use a much higher sun protection factor than they think is necessary.
“There should be more emphasis in communicating how to best use sunscreens in public health campaigns.”
Researchers found that skin covered with more sun cream suffered less damage[/caption]
Prof Young applied different amounts of sun cream to 16 fair-skinned volunteers before exposing them to UV radiation.
He then took biopsies to check for DNA damage, which can lead to skin cancer. The areas covered with more sun cream suffered less harm.
Nina Goad, from the British Association of Dermatologists, said: “This research demonstrates why it’s so important to choose an SPF of 30 or more.
“In theory, an SPF of 15 should be sufficient, but we know that in real-world situations, we need the additional protection offered by a higher SPF.
Nina Goad, of the British Association of Dermatologists, says its important to opt for an SPF of at least 30[/caption]
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“An extra consideration is that when we apply sunscreen, we are prone to missing patches of skin, as well as applying it too thinly.”
The findings are published in the journal Acta Dermato-Venereology.
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