4 Steps for Proper Sunscreen Application

Have you ever put on sunscreen and thought you did a good job, only to realize a few hours later that you still got sunburnt? You’re not alone.

Chances are, you may have missed a critical step in your sunscreen application routine. From selecting your sunscreen to the steps you take before, during, and after you’re exposed to the sun, there are a lot of things you need to take into consideration.

That’s why we’re sharing this quick and easy guide to help you keep your skin protected all summer — and all year — long.

Step 1: Check Your Sunscreen

We’ve talked about selecting the right sunscreen for your skin before. Ultimately, you want to find sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher, water-resistant and offers broad-spectrum coverage.

One other thing to keep in mind is whether or not your sunscreen is expired. While the FDA requires that all sunscreens retain their original strength for three years, some sunscreens do not include an expiration date. It’s a good habit to invest in a new supply of sunscreen every year and to keep an eye out for any obvious changes in color or consistency in your sunscreen. If you think you may have an expired bottle, grab yourself some new reinforcements. Your skin will thank you.

Step 2: Use the Right Amount

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, most people only apply 25 to 50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen to their skin. To help give you an idea of how much sunscreen is the right amount, an average adult needs at least one ounce — or one handful — of sunscreen to cover their entire body.

Step 3: Apply Properly

Sunscreen takes about 15 minutes to absorb into the skin. So make sure you apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before sun exposure. Applying sunscreen after sun exposure is one of the leading causes of sunburn.

Additionally, remember to cover your entire body, especially the parts of your skin that are not covered. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on your neck, face, ears and the tops of your feet and hands. These are the areas that skin cancer is most commonly found. Also, be sure to protect your lips from skin cancer with lip balm that’s SPF 15 or higher. 

Step 4: Reapply

One of the biggest mistakes that people make is putting on sunscreen once and then never reapplying throughout the day. If you are swimming or sweating, your sunscreen will rub off and leave you exposed to harmful UV rays. Even if you aren’t swimming or sweating, it is always a good idea to reapply sunscreen every two hours you spend outside.

If you are near snow, sand or water, your need for sunscreen increases, as these surfaces tend to reflect the sun’s rays more, leaving you more susceptible to harmful UV exposure.

If you follow all these steps religiously and are still finding yourself getting sunburnt year after year, it may be time to talk to a specialist. Schedule an appointment with Charleston Dermatology today to find a sunscreen and routine that works best for you!

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Charleston Dermatology