How to Apply Sunscreen Correctly: 3 Tips

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Is it time for a reminder on how to apply sunscreen correctly? With summer in full swing, we think so! Not only will using sunscreen help protect against vacation-ruining sunburn, it can lower the risk of developing skin cancer, prevent wrinkles, dark spots and other signs of premature aging.

Firstly, choose something that is at least SPF 50+ and broad spectrum. The SPF rating is a measurement of the length of time a sunscreen will protect you from the burning UVB rays compared to how long it would take you to burn with no protection whatsoever. For instance, if you typically burn in 10 minutes, an SPF 50+ product should give you protection for 10 minutes x 50, so 500 minutes. Keep in mind that this is very much dependent on applying enough, something most of us do not do (see below!).

Broad spectrum means the sun filters will protect against both the burning UVB rays and the aging UVA rays. If your current sunscreen doesn’t say broad spectrum, it’s only doing half the job! And if water sports are part of the day’s activities, make sure that you choose a sunscreen that is specifically water-resistant.

The Top 3 Tips on How To Apply Sunscreen

  1. Apply 30 Minutes Prior to Sun Exposure. Most sunscreens need some time to absorb to protect properly. While physical sun filters such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide sit on top of the skin and deflect UV rays, other sun filters such as Mexoryl and Tinosorb S need some time to interact with the skin before reaching maximum effectiveness. Ideally, apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Even if you miss that window, sunscreens will still provide protection from the moment you put them on.
  2. Use Enough. When it comes to sunscreen, this is no time to scrimp! For just your face, use half a teaspoon’s worth of sunscreen. Applying a thinner first layer, then waiting and reapplying will ensure that you haven’t missed any spots. For your whole body, the rule of thumb is one shot glass full, so about one ounce. And don’t forget all those areas that usually get neglected, like the ears, the part in your hair and the tops of your feet! Check out all 10 commonly missed spots here.
  3. Reapply Every 2 Hours (or When You Need To). The truth about sunscreens is that UV exposure slowly breaks down the stability of sun filters and decreases effectiveness, so it’s important to reapply at least every 2 hours. If you’ve been swimming, sweating heavily and toweling off, reapply a full amount immediately to minimize exposure to harmful UV rays.

Sunscreen Is Just Part of Sun Protection

Remember that no sunscreen protects 100% so it should be considered just part of your sun smart plan. The following will go a long way to protecting your skin:

  • Hats and long sleeves
  • Sunglasses to protect your eyes
  • Seeking shade or avoiding the sun during peak sun hours (10 am – 4 pm).

Have fun! Stay safe!