A Grownup Guide To Applying Sunscreen

By Amie Kelbing

I want to talk to all the women out there about applying sunscreen. Not for your kids, for yourselfSlathering on your own sunscreen is exhausting after battling with a slippery 5-year-old who cannot wait to jump in the pool. But applying your own sunscreen is so important. Not only to prevent sunburn but to prevent signs of aging (like wrinkles, saggy skin, or age spots) and skin cancer. Sunscreen as self-care isn’t as sexy as skin lifting serums or sheet masks, but it is a vital step in keeping your skin healthy.

How do you apply sunscreen for maximum protection?

how to apply sunscreen properly

 Which Sunscreen?

Proper sunscreen application starts with choosing the right one. Always choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects against damaging UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays cause long-term cell damage that leads to wrinkles, while UVB rays cause sunburns. Both kinds of light contribute to skin cancer. Then you need to choose between chemical and mineral sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens filter out the UV rays. Mineral sunscreens reflect UV rays from your skin. Both prevent sunburn and defend you against skin cancer, so go with a product you like wearing. 

What Strength?

What SPF should you be using? And what is SPF anyway?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and it helps you understand how long you can stay in the sun before you get a sunburn. Dermatologists recommend a minimum of SPF 30 which blocks 97% of the sun's harmful rays. That's great coverage! And higher SPF formulas are available as well. However, don't let higher SPF number lull you into false sense of security. If you aren’t following good sunscreen practices, like re-applying frequently, you won’t get the full protection your sunscreen offers. 

how often to apply sunscreen
How Much? 

This is such an important question. A little dab won’t protect you from the sun, so apply generously daily. That’s right! You should be wearing sunscreen every single day, especially on the delicate skin of your face.

  • Apply gently without tugging your skin, and pick the right product for your skin concerns.
  • If your face is prone to breakouts, invest in a facial sunscreen specially formulated to prevent blemishes.
  • If you deal with dry skin, try a nourishing sunscreen with hyaluronic acid.

You don’t need a measuring cup or a scale in order to apply the proper amount of sunscreen. For full coverage of your face, squeeze out an amount of product that’s equal to the size of an edamame or lima bean. For more active days and outdoor activities, you’ll obviously need a bit more. To cover your whole body slap on enough sunscreen to fill a 1 oz shot glass, which is also roughly enough to cover your palm.

how much sunscreen to apply is a dab on your hand


And BE THOROUGH. Make sure to work the product into your skin so it’s distributed evenly. Don’t overlook the tender, delicate skin on your lips, the tips of your ears, and the back of your hands. Your skin is thinner in these areas and more susceptible to sun damage. For lip protection, you don’t have to apply your regular sunscreen, find a lip balm with SPF. 

How Often?

When it comes to sunscreen, start early. Your first application should be 30 minutes before sun exposure. First application? Yup, that’s right, you need to reapply consistently to get consistent protection. And remember that there is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen. Some sunscreens are water-resistant, but you still need to reapply every 70-90 minutes if you’re swimming or sweating. 

Think Outside The Bottle

Between 11 am and 3 pm when the sun is the strongest, sunscreen alone might not be enough. The safest thing you can do is adjust your schedule and head indoors. But, if you just can’t imagine missing out on prime beach time, call in reinforcements! Augment your sunscreen with accessories! Hats, umbrellas, and long-sleeved beach coverups will shield you from the sun and keep you looking stylish.

There are even clothes with built-in sun protection, including our Change of Scenery swimsuits! All of our swimsuits are third-party tested and confirmed UPF 50+ protection against 99.5% of the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays. This means that you only have to apply sunscreen to skin not covered by the suit. You can apply sunscreen under your new swimsuit if you want to, just wait 15 minutes before you put it on to prevent staining.

Remember these sunscreen best practices the next time you’re preparing for a day by the pool. Choose a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30, don’t be stingy, reapply often, and find shade when the sun is at its strongest. And of course, have fun!

+ Ready for the sun? Pair your favorite broad-spectrum SPF with our new Tracy Dress and our Deb One Piece for maximum protection!


Amie Kelbing is a freelance content writer based in Los Angeles. When she's not writing for clients she is working on content for The Spinster Life, a lifestyle brand for single women. One of her favorite topics to write about is the joy of solo travel. You can follow her on LinkedIn or Instagram.

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