Am I Applying Too Little Sunscreen?
Here’s the scary truth: according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) most people apply 25 to 50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen. This means too many people are not reaching the actual sun protection factor (SPF) as directed on the sunscreen bottle. What does that mean for your skin? A false sense of security when outdoors, and less protection against the sun’s harsh UV rays, which can cause sunburn, premature signs of skin aging, and even some cancers.
Aside from not applying enough sunscreen to protect your skin, another gaff is not applying frequently enough to help protect against the aforementioned side effects. To learn proper sunscreen etiquette, we turned to board-certified dermatologist, and Skincare.com consultant, Dr. Ted Lain (@DrTedLain). Are you applying too little sunscreen? Read on to find out!
WHEN SHOULD I APPLY SUNSCREEN?
Sunscreen is probably on your mind ahead of a beach day, but the truth is it should be part of your daily skin care routine regardless of the weather, season, or activity in store. If you tend to ditch or skip sunscreen when it’s rainy or cloudy, you’re putting your skin in jeopardy and could be increasing your risk of sun damage. The AAD notes that sunscreen should not only be used every single day, but should be reapplied at least every two hours when outdoors. If you’re swimming or sweating profusely, reapply more frequently.
AM I APPLYING ENOUGH SUNSCREEN?
We hate to break this news to you, but according to Dr. Lain, you’re probably not putting enough sunscreen on your skin. “The vast majority of us do not apply enough sunscreen to achieve the SPF rating on the bottle,” he says. “Recent research [by the AAD] determined that the average person would need about 10-15 minutes to apply enough sunscreen on exposed skin when going to the pool or beach to achieve the correct SPF rating. Not only is that a lot of time, it takes a lot of sunscreen as well!” If your sunscreen bottles last you for months and months, chances are you aren’t applying enough on a daily basis.
HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR SUNSCREEN
There are so many reasons why you should be trying to get the most out of your sunscreen, the most obvious being added protection from sun damage. Here are a few tips on how to keep your skin guarded the right way with your sunscreen:
TIP #1: GET THE RIGHT SUNSCREEN
Not all sunscreens are created equally. The AAD recommends looking for a sunscreen with broad spectrum UV protection, which helps guard your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Also, make sure it has an SPF of 15 or higher, and that it’s water-resistant.
TIP #2: USE THE RIGHT AMOUNT
Not applying enough sunscreen can leave your skin at risk of harmful sun damage, so make sure you’re applying the right amount. The AAD recommends applying at least a full ounce of sunscreen (which is an equivalent to a shot glass) on your whole body.
TIP #3: APPLY SUNSCREEN ON ALL EXPOSED AREAS
If you’re only applying sunscreen to your face and arms, you’re doing it completely wrong. The AAD notes that you should be applying sunscreen to every single part of your skin, including the tops of your feet, your neck, ears, and even the top of your head. Grab an SPF-infused lip balm or conditioner to protect your lips as well.
TIP #4: WAIT BEFORE STEPPING OUTSIDE
Don’t expect protection immediately after you apply sunscreen. The AAD recommends applying sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you step outside to allow the formula a chance to absorb properly.
TIP #5: REAPPLY DURING THE DAY
Just because you applied sunscreen once during the day doesn’t mean you’re done. Most sunscreens last for up to two hours, and can diminish earlier if you’re active or in water. To keep your skin guarded all day long, the AAD suggests reapplying sunscreen at least every two hours, if not sooner. Make sure you’re putting on a full ounce every time you reapply! While sunscreen is one of the best ways to protect your skin against ultraviolet rays, they are not foolproof. There is currently no sunscreen on the market that protects against 100% of UV rays. That’s why it’s often recommended that you pair your sunscreen use with additional sun protection measures, such as protective clothing, seeking shade, and avoiding peak sun hours—10 a.m. to 4 p.m.—when the rays are particularly strong.