I have a dream.
I dream of one day when women (and men) will be able to slather on sunscreen in the morning and go through their day without the need to top it up.
No more stopping what you’re doing every two hours to apply another layer. No more wondering how the heck to do that without ruining your makeup. No more choosing between wearing sunscreen or getting wrinkles.
One day that dream will come true. That day is not today. Today, you still need to touch up your sunscreen every few hours. *sighs*
Why You Need To Reapply Sunscreen Every Few Hours
Think of sunscreen like your laptop battery.
Your battery keeps your laptop working so you can work, play and chat with your friends. But, little by little, its energy fades away. After a few hours, you have to plug your laptop in to recharge your battery and give it new life.
Your sunscreen’s like that, too. When you first put it on, it keeps you safe from UV rays. As soon as those warm rascals hit your face, UV filters turn them into a less damaging form of energy (heat), so they won’t wreak their usual havoc (you know, wrinkles, dark spots, cancer).
But, in doing so, they’re getting used down. Sunlight slowly but surely breaks down UV filters, making your sunscreen utterly and completely useless overtime.
If you swim, play sports or sweat a lot, your sunscreen will disappear even faster. Water, sweat and even rubbing make sunscreen slide off your skin pretty quickly, leaving you unprotected.
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How Quickly Does Sunscreen Break Down?
Here’s where it gets tricky.
Now, if you go for a swim or play a game of beach volley, it’s a given you need to reapply sunscreen immediately afterwards. All that sweat and exercise got a big dollop of sunscreen off your body and you need to top it up pronto.
But, what if you’re simply lying on the beach reading a good book? Or aren’t at the beach at all? Maybe you’re spending your day at the office and going out just for a brief errand. Do you need to reapply in that case?
As a general rule, the longer you stay in the sun and the strongest UV rays are, the quicker your sunscreen will break down and become useless.The longer you stay in the sun and the strongest UV rays are, the quicker sunscreen breaks down
Let’s say that you’re sunbathing at the beach. It’s 10 am and UV rays are pretty strong. You need to top up every couple of hours. No exception. Fail to do so and your sunburn will remind you.
If it’s a beautiful sunny day and you’re enjoying a picnic or a walk in the park with your friends, I’d still top up every couple of hours. UV rays are strong and you’re spending a lot of time outside, so better be safe than sorry.
If you’re spending most of your day indoors, away from windows, and venturing outside only to grab a quick coffee, your sunscreen will last a lot longer. UV rays won’t get much contact with it, so you may get away with topping it up only once a day.
If you’re indoors but close to a window, it’s another matter entirely. Glass blocks UVB rays, but UVA rays (the kind that causes wrinkles, dark spots and cancer) can still get through. Top your sunscreen up regularly. Every couple of hours as a rule, but if it’s a gloomy, cloudy day when UV rays are weaker, every 3 hours or so may be ok.
The Bottom Line
There are times when you can get away with topping up your sunscreen less often. But, if you want to stay on the safe side, put it on every two hours.
Do you reapply sunscreen throughout the day? Share your experience and tips in the comments below.
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