How Much Sunscreen Should You Be Using? A Dermatologist Weighs In

June 23, 2022
Jennifer Hussein
By: Jennifer Hussein | by L'Oréal
How Much Sunscreen Should I Use on My Face and Body?

If you’re a skincare enthusiast, then you probably already know the importance of applying sunscreen every day, year round. But did you know that according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), most people apply only 25 to 50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen? Inadequate protection against the sun’s harsh UV rays can cause sunburn, premature signs of skin aging and even some cancers. To find out how much SPF you really need to cover your face and body, we turned to board-certified dermatologist and consultant Dr. Ted Lain.

How Much Sunscreen Should I Use?

The AAD recommends applying at least a full ounce of sunscreen (which is an equivalent to a shot glass) on your body and about a tablespoon on your face. “The vast majority of us do not apply enough sunscreen to achieve the SPF rating on the bottle,” says Dr. Lain. “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.

When Should I Apply Sunscreen?

Sunscreen is probably on your mind ahead of a beach day, but the truth is that it should be part of your daily skincare routine regardless of the weather, season or activity. UV rays can still penetrate through clouds or windows, so it’s important to apply SPF even on cloudy days or days spent indoors. 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.

Should I Apply Sunscreen Before or After Moisturizer

If you’re wondering whether to apply sunscreen before or after moisturizer, apply your moisturizer first and finish off with SPF. Applying moisturizer on top of sunscreen can move the formula and make it difficult to achieve even sun protection.

What Sunscreen Should I Use?

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 30 or higher. For facial sunscreen, we recommend the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral SPF Moisturizer With Hyaluronic Acid for its moisturizing formula.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral SPF Moisturizer With Hyaluronic Acid

Where Should I Apply Sunscreen?

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. Consider adding an SPF-infused lip balm or conditioner to protect your lips as well. One of our favorites is the Cay Skin Isle Lip Balm SPF 30.

How Long Should I 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.

When Should I Reapply During the Day?

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. And don’t forget to apply the suggested amount every time you reapply.

Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

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