So, you are satisfied with your all-natural sunscreen you’ve chosen. But you are still wondering why this sunscreen doesn’t seem to give you enough sun protection as you expect.
Why is that?
That’s because understanding how to apply sunscreen for maximized protection is just as important as choosing one. That’s like having the best seeds and a garden with good oil. Yet, without proper techniques and gardening knowledge, you wouldn’t be able to produce nice and healthy plants. Below are seven areas that I think you should not skip.
1. How Early should I Apply Sunscreen?
When to apply sunscreens actually depends on what types of sunscreens you choose to use. If you are using a sunscreen that contain chemical ingredients (although I would only recommend all-natural sunscreens), then you should apply the sunscreen 15 (at the very least) to 30 minutes before you go outside. According to American Academy of Dermatology, it takes about 15 minutes for the skin to absorb the sunscreen and take effect.
If you are using a sunscreen with natural ingredients, the good news is that you can immediately go outside without having to wait, because key ingredients in natural sunscreens – zinc oxide and titanium dioxide – can provide immediate sun protection as soon as you apply.
2. Where to Apply Sunscreen?
All exposed areas on the body should get protected from the sun. This includes your face, ears, neck, and tops of both hands, feet and legs.
3. How does Sunscreen Fit into Your Skincare Routine?
Consider using an antioxidant-rich serum before the sunscreen to boost the skin’s environmental defenses. After knowing this, I am thankful that the moisturizer I am currently using (jojoba oil by Now Foods) actually contains antioxidant, would healing and antibacterial properties which also help strengthen the defenses!
Always remember, sunscreen should always be the final step in your skincare routine, no matter what season you are at. If you wear moisturizers over your sunscreen, they can reduce the effectiveness of the sunscreen.
4. How much Sunscreen Should I use?
Before reading on, be aware that the suggestions or numbers given here are very subjective and should be considered as reference only. Throughout the internet, different authorities offer advice differently. Regarding people may differ in weights, heights, sizes of the face, body shapes (and texture and consistency of each sunscreen is different as well!), you should take in whatever recommendations here or elsewhere with your own judgment.
In general, adults need to use one ounce of sunscreen (the size of a shot glass, or the amount you can hold in your palm). This application assumes you’re wearing minimal clothing, such as bathing suit for the beach or a tank top and shorts, according to Paula’s Choice, a cosmetic company committed to providing high-quality and research-backed ingredients for trouble skin and other skin types.
Specifically speaking, you will need at least one nickel- to quarter- size amount (approximately ¼ teaspoon, or about the size of a pea and a half) for the face, the same amount for the neck and chest (if exposed). I choose ¼ teaspoon for face application because this amount is simultaneously suggested by National Library of Medicine, Paula’s Choice, and Skin Cancer Foundation.
5. How to Apply Sunscreen to Your Skin (with Detailed Application Instructions)?
Dr. Cynthia Bailey, dermatologist based in California, suggests that we could avoid white cast over the skin by warming the cream and dispersing particles before applying the product. Specifically, she recommends the following steps:
- Place the amount of cream to be applied in the palm of one hand;
- Vigorously rub your palms together then apply the cream to your skin by patting it around various places;
- Finish by rubbing the cream on your skin until it is evenly applied and invisible.
6. Foundation over Sunscreen
Did you know that applying foundation over sunscreen can dilute the effectiveness of the latter? To minimize the dilution, here are some tricks by Paula’s Choice:
- Wait for about three to five minutes after wearing sunscreen;
- Apply foundation in smooth and downward motions;
- Avoid rubbing or back-and-forth motions;
- Do not use excess pressure;
- Consider a foundation sponge, or brush rather than fingers.
If you don’t have time to wait, or simply don’t want to wait, you could set the foundation with a pressed powder of SPF 15+.
Personally, I will choose to wait for a short time. Just plan ahead and give yourself more time to prepare before you go out. You know this is better for your skin ; )
At the same time, note that: it is not recommended to reply only on makeup that contains sunscreen for your sole protection, because most people do not apply enough liberally enough to get the amount of protection stated on the labels.
7. How often should You Reapply Sunscreen?
As a general rule of thumb, you should always re-apply sunscreen every two hours.
Meanwhile, note that there are two types of situations you should apply sunscreens differently: one situation where you stay indoors for most of the time or with very limited activities, the other situation where you perform water sports or sweat profusely.
While the rule of reapplying sunscreen every two hours works for the former occasion, the second occasion actually requires some extra work.
You should reapply sunscreen “immediately after swimming or excessively sweating” (as American Academy of Dermatology suggests), after 40 – 80 minutes, or at least every two hours to stay protected. After that, be sure to let the new layer of sunscreen soak into the skin for a few minutes before going back to previous activities. Otherwise, the sunscreen might be washed off.
You might be wondering: if I am outside already, how I can reapply sunscreen with makeup already on my face? I had the same concern as well. And this is what I’ve found from Paula’s Choice: apply pressed powder on top and reapply every two hours. Even though this is not the best way to give the maximum amount of protection for the face; yet, they are a great way to reapply more sunscreen during the day and is more practical.
[Bonus] Don’t solely Reply on Sunscreen.
Even if you know how to perfectly wrap yourself up with sunscreens, that doesn’t mean you should skip other necessary steps that give you extra protection, which include:
- Staying in shades when possible;
- Choosing to wear clothes that have UV protection;
- Wearing a hat;
- Wearing sunglasses that block 100% UV rays and that have wrap-around lenses to block peripheral light;
- Using a lip balm.
[Cheat Sheet] Seven Steps to Powerful Sun Protection
As always, I am here to save you time! Check out the cheat sheet I’ve prepared for you, where you will have a taste of everything included in this post to effectively protect you from the sun.
Yesterday, I learned something new from Tony Robbins. Your mind is constantly evaluating things. So, in order to cultivate a positive mind that leads to actions, you should start asking yourself meaningful questions. Here, I have one for you: what is ONE action item you will take to help yourself get better sun protection? Leave me a comment below!
For your great skin,
P.S. I am working on Holistic Summer Skincare Package where you will learn how to truly take care of your skin from all perspectives such as:
- What Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners recommend about how to eat right in this summer for clear skin and healthier body
- Expert advice on skincare steps you must not skip for clear and nourished skin
- Step-by-step guide to choose a right foundation for acne prone skin
- A summer skincare challenge to help you get started and, most importantly, follow through!
I strongly encourage you to join me, as I want you to take actions to bring your skin to the next level. Want in?