Are you applying enough sunscreen? Are you applying sunscreen correctly? Chances are that the answer to both questions is a resounding “no”! According to the experts, most Americans don’t apply enough sunscreen. In fact, the CDC discovered that fewer than 15% of men and 30% of women regularly use sunscreen on their face and exposed skin when venturing outside for more than an hour. Let’s take a look at exactly how much sunscreen you should be applying, and when to apply it, to make sure you’re protected from the sun’s harmful rays, 365 days a year.
How much sunscreen to apply
It’s important to consider which parts of your body will be exposed to the sun when you apply or reapply sunscreen. For your face, the equivalent of two full finger lengths is enough to cover it, not forgetting the tops of your ears, and more easily-missed spots like just above your cheekbones, or the sides of your face.
In terms of your body, a good rule of thumb is to apply enough sunscreen to fill a 1oz shot glass, for all exposed areas of skin (for example, when you’re wearing a swimsuit). It’s better to be generous, as not applying enough sunscreen and spreading it thinly means the amount of protection the sunscreen offers will be reduced.
When using a spray sunscreen, it can be difficult to measure exactly how much you’re applying. Spray sunscreen must be rubbed into the skin to offer protection, not simply sprayed on top of the skin and left. Spray the product 10 centimeters away from the skin, and spray generously, until a sheen appears on the area of skin the spray is directed at. Once you have covered an area of the body with the spray sheen, rub the sunscreen in and continue to reapply throughout the day.
When to apply sunscreen
You should wear sunscreen whenever you’re exposed to the sun’s rays. This doesn’t mean you should only wear sunscreen when the sun is out and shining – the sun emits harmful rays year-round, so sunscreen is essential whatever the weather.
In terms of when to apply sunscreen during the day, make sure you apply it 15 minutes before exposure (e.g before you leave the house). When out in the sun, you should be re-applying:
- Every two hours
- Every 40 minutes when sweating (e.g during exercise) or swimming
- Immediately after towel drying
The right kind of sunscreen to use
There are properties every sunscreen should have, as recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology. Your sunscreen should be broad spectrum, meaning that it protects skin from both UVA and UVB rays, and it should also be both water resistant and have an SPF of 30 or higher.
Wearing SPF30 sunscreen or higher doesn’t mean you can let down your guard when it comes to reapplication! It’s a common myth that SPF relates to the time of sun exposure you’re getting, but this is not true. Higher SPF sunscreen doesn’t offer a longer length of protection, it offers a higher level of sun protection. So, even when wearing a sunscreen with a higher SPF, you need to make sure that you’re following the correct guidelines and reapplying throughout the day.
Many dermatologists recommend using mineral sunscreens with active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are generally suitable for a wide range of skin types, including sensitive. These sunscreens work by forming a ‘shield’ on top of the skin, helping to deflect the sun’s rays. Often referred to as ‘physical’ sunscreen too, these sunscreens tend to have a thicker, chalkier formula than chemical sunscreen, due to the active ingredients. Our mineral sunscreen formulas are designed to be ultralight and fast-absorbing, spreading smoothly over the skin without the typical white, greasy finish left by typical formulas.
Ultimately, the best kind of sunscreen to use is one that you’ll really use. If applying sunscreen is a more pleasurable experience, it will make you more likely to remember to use it daily and form a regular sunscreen habit. Therefore, choose sunscreen that you’ll actually enjoy applying, and remember to apply every day, to help keep your skin protected from the sun’s harmful rays!
Sources and references