I know you’re applying sunscreen every day. But are you applying it the right way? Sunscreen isn’t like the other skincare products. Mess it up and it won’t work. So how do you NOT mess it up? I got you! Read on for answers to all your burning questions about sunscreen application.
HOW MUCH SUNSCREEN SHOULD YOU APPLY?
Short answer: 1/4 of a teaspoon for your face. A small glass shot for the whole body.
WHAT GOES FIRST: MOISTURIZER OR SUNSCREEN?
There is not a right or wrong order.
But I prefer to apply my moisturizer first. Two reasons:
- In studies, sunscreen is always the last product applied to the face – makes sense to use it as they test it.
- Touching your face after putting on sunscreen can disturb it, remove it and generally make it less effective.
If you want to do it the other way around, wait a few minutes after you’ve applied sunscreen to put on your moisturizer. That’ll give the sunscreen time to settle and adhere to your skin better.
CAN YOU MIX SUNSCREEN WITH MOISTURIZER?
No! No! No! Please, Please, DO NOT do this!
I get it. A lot of sunscreens out there are thick and greasy. You just want to make it lighter and easier to use (and save yourself some time in the morning too).
But mixing your sunscreen with moisturizer (or anything else, for that matter), dilutes the SPF. Instead, than SPF 30, you may well be applying SPF 11!
Don’t risk losing SPF benefits
SHOULD YOU PAT OR RUB SUNSCREEN?
I’m Team Pat all the way.
I know, I know. Sunscreen is thick, it’ll take forever to pat it in. But science shows that’s the right way to do it.
A 2006 study found that “protection by a four star-rated sunscreen (with UVA protection) was optimal when applied as a thin film (40-60% at 2 mg cm(-2)) but less so when rubbed into the skin (37% at 4 mg cm(-2) and no significant protection at 2 mg cm(-2)), possibly due to cream filling crevices, which reduced film thickness.”
Before we go any further, thin film doesn’t mean you can apply less than the recommended amount. It means that, when you apply it properly, sunscreen should form a thin layer on your skin.
If you rub the sunscreen in, you could REMOVE it a little here and there, reducing the thickness of the film (and the sun protection it provides) in some areas.
HOW LONG DO YOU NEED TO WAIT AFTER APPLYING SUNSCREEN BEFORE GOING OUTSIDE?
20 minutes, give or take.
Let’s be clear: that’s NOT because your sunscreen needs to be activated. ALL sunscreens work straight away.
But you know that sunscreen film I keep talking about? Well, think of sunscreen like paint. It you touch the paint before it’s dry, you’ll remove it.
Sunscreen is the same. Touch your face before it settles and you’ll risk removing the sunscreen in those spots.
HOW LONG SHOULD YOU WAIT AFTER SUNSCREEN BEFORE APPLYING MAKEUP?
20 minutes, give or take.
Yes, I’m serious. I just told you sunscreen needs time to settle and form a film on your skin, remember?
You know what happens when you apply foundation straight after sunscreen? You remove it, that’s what.Let me say it again: anything that touches your face while the film is drying has the potential to remove your sunscreen and compromise its protection.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU RE-APPLY SUNSCREEN DURING THE DAY?
It depends on how much sun exposure you’re getting during the day.
Let me explain. UV filters get deactivated by sunlight, can be rubbed off of your skin (for example, when you towel dry) or removed through sweat and natural oils.
But how long does it take for this film to become completely ineffective? That’s the million dollar question. You see, the sun’s rays are stronger in some hours (between 10am-4pm) and weaker in others. In winter, the sun is weaker and doesn’t stay around as longer. Sometimes, the sun is completely covered by clouds (but UVA rays will still get through).
Not to mention, you don’t spend the same time outdoors every day. When the weather’s sunny and hot, you can spend hours playing outside. Other days, you’ll just leave the house to get to work and back. On some days, you may not leave the house at all.
If you’re getting very little sun exposure, like simply walking to your car and commuting to work, you may not need to reapply at all. Especially in winter. If you’re getting moderate sun exposure, reapplying once in the middle of the day may be enough. And when you’re in doubt, reapply it (better be on the safe side).
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