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Standard Sunscreen Application Leaves Skin Uncovered

Standard sunscreen application does not provide effective body coverage, leaving 11 percent of the body exposed to UV radiation, according to new research.

A study recently published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science assessed sunscreen application habits and relative body coverage after single whole-body application.

Fifty-two volunteers were asked to follow their usual sunscreen application routine. Standardised UV photographs were conducted before and immediately after product application to evaluate relative body coverage.

Participants also undertook a questionnaire to evaluate their sunscreen usage habits.

The study found that the front side showed significantly more covered skin than the back side of the body. Females showed significantly more covered skin than males.

Females applied significantly more sunscreen to their back side than males did, but differences in application on the front side were not noteworthy between the two genders.

In most cases, the usual sunscreen application routine did not provide complete body coverage, even though an extra light sunscreen with good absorption properties was used.

On average, 11 percent of the body surface was not covered by sunscreen at all.

The study concluded that appropriate consumer education is required to improve sunscreen application and to warrant effective sun protection.

Read more about sun protection.


Jovanovic, Z. et al. (October 2017.) Conventional sunscreen application does not lead to sufficient body coverage. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. Volume 39. Issue 5. Pages 550–555. DOI: 10.1111/ics.12413.

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