Is there enough sunscreen in your cosmetic products?

Dr Elke Hacker from the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) partnered with the Wellness Matters program, Department of Health Safety and Environment at QUT, to undertake a research study assessing the coverage of cosmetics with SPF by using UV cameras.

A UV camera is designed to image ultraviolet light, the same UV light that sunscreen or cosmetic products containing SPF absorbs. In the UV image, skin with sunscreen or SPF on it will appear darker onscreen than skin that’s been missed, or that requires a reapplication. The more sunscreen that is present, the darker the skin will look.

Participants were asked to visit IHBI in in the morning and afternoon on the same day to have their face photographed using a UV camera while wearing their regular cosmetic and moisturiser products with SPF.

Participants were shown their UV photo after the afternoon photography session and asked to provide feedback on their thoughts of their sunscreen or SPF coverage.

This research helped to inform participants about areas on the face they may have missed applying product, showed the thickness of coverage, and if the product wears off during the day. The results are currently being analysed, with initial findings showing the most commonly missed area was around the eyes and many participants were surprised by their lack of coverage.

A follow up to this research will include development of health promotions and interventions to further educate and influence lifestyle, commuting and workplace behaviours to enhance sun safety literacy and skin cancer prevention for QUT staff and students and community.