The importance of putting on sunscreen is just a given at this point, right? Not only should you not go to the beach without it, but you should also apply whenever you step outside, period. But all that application is admittedly a bit of a hassle, especially when it comes to those hard-to-reach-without-killing-yourself places -- like your eyelids. Yep, if you've never thought about it until now, I'm here to tell you that you definitely need to apply sunscreen on your eyelids.
Recent research from the University of Liverpool showed that full-body sunscreen coverage is a necessity when it comes to really guarding against skin cancer, which most of us already know. But what's more interesting is that most people forget to apply SPF on a lot of areas of the face -- particularly the eyelids.
According to the research, 90 percent of basal cell carcinomas (BCC) -- the most common type of skin cancer in both the U.K. and the US -- are found on a person's head or neck.
And between five and 10 percent of those skin cancers occur directly on the eyelids.
BCC is a type of cancer that affects the outermost layer of the skin, the basal cells, and occurs due to chronic exposure to sunlight. The cancer grows slowly, and goes deep, destroying tissue and bones, as well as the skin.
So, yeah, pretty nasty stuff -- and it's frighteningly common. Every year, over 800,000 Americans are affected by this type of skin cancer.
And yet, so many of us have trouble remembering to protect these key areas of our skin with sunscreen.
In the study, researchers at the University of Liverpool asked 57 participants to apply sunscreen to their face, giving no other specific information or instructions. Pictures were taken of each participant with a UV-sensitive camera before and after sunscreen application. The photos were then analyzed by a custom designed program in order to accurately judge the efficacy of the sunscreen application.
The results showed that the participants, on average, missed almost 10 percent of the entire face. Most commonly, people forgot to apply SPF to their eyelids (13.5 percent), and the corner of the eye and bridge of the nose (a whopping 77 percent).
Researchers then asked the participants to re-apply after they gave them more information about the realities of skin cancer in the eye region. They found that there were slight improvements when given this information, and on average, the participants left about seven percent of their faces uncovered by sunscreen.
The researchers were concerned by how seemingly difficult it was for people to ensure total facial coverage, even after being told the facts.
They stressed the importance of remembering all of the potential risks associated with spending time in the sun and neglecting full sunscreen coverage.
Plus, keep in mind that even just one serious sunburn can increase your risk of cancer by up to 50 percent.
Believe me, I know you don't want a bunch of SPF gunk all up in your eyeballs. Truth be told, it stings like a you-know-what, and in fact, many products even warn against doing this on the back label.
So what does that mean for you?
It's quite simple, really. The researchers in this study stressed the use of sunglasses when spending time outside, as well as the necessities of application and reapplication of an SPF of 30 or higher. And, my advice? Try throwing on a cute baseball cap to protect your face, too.
I know you don't want to be pale, and you don't want sunscreen stinging your eyes, but is cancer actually a better option?