Apply Sunscreen The Right Way

by beautifulwithbrains
right way to apply sunscreen

I used to roll my eyes when someone tried to tell me how to apply sunscreen.

Dude, how difficult can it be? Pour a small amount on your hands, rub it all over your body, wait 20 minutes and go out in the sun. Job done.

Except, I still got a sunburnt every now and then. WTH?

Worse, if I got a sunburn, did that mean I’d get wrinkles later, too? (Priorities, ladies!)

Turns out, it’s not enough to apply sunscreen. You have to apply it the RIGHT way too.

Here are a few tricks to help you make the most of your sunscreen and keep those pesky sunburns and wrinkles as far away from you as possible:

Be Generous

I used to be a scrooge with sunscreen. I’d treat it like my moisturizer. Put on a pea-size amount and off in the sun I went.

That’s not nearly enough, my friend. Derms recommend you use an average ounce (30ml) to cover your entire body (adjust based on your height and weight – no judgments. It’s about safety, girl!).

Apply any less and your SPF50 turns into SPF15 (or lower!). No kidding.

Slather It On Everywhere

If it’s exposed to the sun, apply sunscreen there. That means your face, arms, legs and all those often-forgotten areas like ears, the back of knees, feet and nose. And don’t forget to use a lip balm or lipstick with SPF on the lips, too.

Related: What Are The Best Lip Balms With SPF?

Shop My Fave Sunscreens

Wait 20 Minutes Before Going Outside

Have you noticed everyone tells you to apply sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure but no one explains why?

Here’s the mystery solved: you need to give sunscreen time to dry down and form a shield on the skin. If you go out before this shield is properly in place, UV rays all get through AND hurt your skin.

Be a little patience. It’s worth the wait.

Put It On Again, And Again, And Again (And Again)

UV filters may fight UV rays well, but they don’t come out of the battle unscathed. Nope, those pesky UV rays slowly deactivate UV filters overtime. The longer you stay in the sun, the quicker they’ll stop working.

Then, there’s sweating. Swimming. Drying yourself with a towel. All things that brush the sunscreen off your body. If it ain’t there anymore, it can’t protect you.

That’s why you have to reapply sunscreen frequently at the beach. That means every two hours or after every swim/sporting activity that makes you sweat. 

If it’s winter and you’re spending most of your time indoors, you can get away with reapplying your sunscreen less often. But, do reapply it. That’s NOT optional.

Related: Why Do I Need To Reapply Sunscreen Every Two Hours?

Are you applying sunscreen the right way? Let me know in the comments below.

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HaNNa_HuLLaBaLoo June 4, 2009 - 4:07 pm

After reading this post, I’ve realized how WRONG I have been in terms of sunscreen application. One of the reasons why i dont really fancy applying sunscreen is due to its oily texture. I know it’s harmful to my skin, but I just havent found the right suncreen with affordable price. Plus I;m not comfortable with layering too many products onto my face.

Thanks Gio, your blog has been so informative. =) No wonder it’s called ‘beautiful with brain’. =)

Nikki June 5, 2009 - 4:57 am

I think I am not applying enough! thanks for the post!!! super helpful

Dao June 5, 2009 - 3:23 pm

An oz is about the size of a shot glass and if you apply enough, a bottle of sunscreen should last only around a week to 10 days. I obviously do not apply enough sunscreen as well.

beautifulwithbrains June 9, 2009 - 11:24 am

Hanna: thanks a lot hun! Finding the perfect sunscreen is hard. I prefer physical ones but they tend to leave a white cast on skin. But still, alwats better be protected. If you’re not comfortable with using a sunscreen on your face, you can try a moisturizer or foundation with SPF in it.

Nikki: you’re welcome!

Dao: I know, it’s a shame sunscreens don’t last long if you us enough, kinda puts you off a bit. It’s not good for our wallets, but our skin will thank us if we protect it well.

shruti January 24, 2011 - 9:26 pm

OMG, i never applied tht on ears.. :0 i guess i need to start doing that right away! or less my ears will age sooner than my face.. 😉 bt really nice n informative post. another mistake which i do is, i dnt reapply it at all. 🙁

beautifulwithbrains January 24, 2011 - 10:29 pm

Shruti, I’m glad you found this post useful. Ears are such an overlooked place to apply sunscreen. I always skipped that bit when I was younger lol but am more careful now. I don’t think reapplication is that necessary in winter (unless you live somewhere where it’s hot and sunny in winter too) butu in summer is a must. 🙂

shruti January 25, 2011 - 6:29 pm

yep, right. by the way, i made sure to apply it on my ears too while going to college. 😉

beautifulwithbrains January 25, 2011 - 8:03 pm

Shruti, that’s great. 😉


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