So You Wear Your Sunscreen, but Do You Know How Much Is Enough?

Danielle Jackson
·3 mins read
Photo taken in Mykolayiv, Ukraine
Photo taken in Mykolayiv, Ukraine

So you've taken a big step in your skin-care journey and finally started wearing sunscreen daily. As much as we love that for you, what if we told you that the dime-size amount you're applying once a day just isn't cutting it? Even though some sunscreen is better than no sunscreen at all, there's a good chance that you're not applying enough to provide you with enough protection to last all day.

Applying sunscreen correctly goes further than just applying it during your morning skin-care routine; as many labels suggest, you should be applying enough product to cover your face and neck, and reapplying accordingly.

"When sunscreen is applied appropriately, it is the most effective in protecting the skin," Heyday educator Glenise Gomez told POPSUGAR. (We recommend using at least SPF 30 and above.) "We want to minimize the risk of skin cancer and prevent premature aging, which shows up as hyperpigmentation (particularly age spots), loss of elasticity, and wrinkles."

If you're not sure how much SPF is enough to protect your skin daily (even if you're staying inside), read ahead to get a breakdown of just how much you should wear.

How Much Sunscreen Should I Really Be Applying?

For starters, how much SPF you should apply is dependent on where you're applying it. "For the full face, a nickel-sized drop is sufficient," Gomez said. If you're using a chemical sunscreen, "apply the sunscreen 30 minutes prior to sun exposure so it adheres to the skin." Alternatively, you can use physical sunblocks like zinc and titanium dioxide, which offer instant protection. "[Make sure to] include your ears, hairline, head (if exposed), and back of neck. Then follow with makeup."

If you're applying sunscreen to your body, Gomez recommends using a full "shot glass amount." She continued: "It sounds like a lot, but it really is only two tablespoons."

How Often Should I Reapply My Sunscreen?

If you're engaging in any activity that involves sweating or touching, there's a lot of potential for your sunscreen to fade throughout the day. According to Gomez, a good rule to follow is to reapply you SPF every two hours, but you'll want to reapply more often if you're fully submerging your body in water, like during swimming. "SPF disintegrates, so you need to reapply to all exposed areas to avoid damaging UV exposure," she said. "Apply evenly."

You should also still be reapplying sunscreen if you're wearing makeup, and you can do so by either pressing the liquid onto your skin or using a spray or powder version. If you're spending most of your days indoors - which many of us have been lately - it may not be necessary to reapply so frequently, but if you plan on stepping out for a bit during the day or even sit by a window, Gomez recommends giving yourself a re-up then as well.

"My suggestion is for everyone to incorporate a high antioxidant serum into your daytime regimen so that skin is nourished with free radical fighting nutrients prior to sun exposure," she said. "These ingredients within a high antioxidant serum is an arsenal to defend against harsh effects of UV damage and maintain healthy, radiant skin."