No sunscreen is effective if you don’t use it correctly. Follow these tips to get the best protection possible.
1. Use at least an ounce of sunscreen
“The biggest mistake with applying any sunscreen is that most people don’t use the recommended amount,” says Chris Birchby, founder and CEO of COOLA Suncare and Bare Republic.
Adults should use at least a shot glass full of sunscreen when minimally dressed to evenly cover the body, from the tops of the feet to the hairline. A half teaspoon or so should be used to cover your face, neck, and chest. If you apply less, you get less coverage and less protection. Using just half the required amount of an SPF 30 sunscreen only provides an effective SPF of 5.5, according to Piedmont-Fleischmann.
Birchby recommends applying your sunscreen in layers and working in sections. To achieve the recommended amount, start with a little bit at a time and allow it to absorb and set before applying another sheer layer. Sunscreen lotions, gels, and sticks are the easiest and safest to apply properly. And it sounds like a no-brainer, but it bears repeating: Follow the instructions on the specific product for the best results.
2. Don’t be lazy with sun protection
Don’t forget often-missed spots like your lips, the tops of your ears and feet, and your eyelids. And make sure you wear sunscreen even on cloudy days or indoors — UV rays pass through clouds and glass.
3. Reapply at least every two hours and after sweating, swimming, or wiping skin with a towel or shirt
People more prone to sunburn may need to reapply more frequently, especially when the forecasted UV index is high.
4. Pick the sunscreen that’s best for your skin and the day’s activities
A moisturizer with sunscreen is great for the commute to work, but a hike or a run calls for a water-resistant sunscreen with more protection from the sun’s harmful rays.
5. Always use water-resistant formulas for swimming and other water activities
The bottle will tell you if the sunscreen is water resistant for 40 or 80 minutes. Be sure to reapply on time!
6. Practice sun safety
Applying sunscreen properly is important, but so is seeking out shade, wearing sun protective clothing (like a hat and/or UPF clothing), and following the daily UV forecast so you can avoid peak hours and safely enjoy the outdoors when UV radiation exposure is lower.