Even if we all know that sunscreen is important, we don’t all know the best ways to actually apply it. There are particular rules to keep in mind when trying to get the most out of your sunscreen. It is a simple as applying, spreading, and heading on your way if you’re in a hurry, but taking your time will get you better results. Before we get to the best ways to apply sunscreen, it is in everyone’s interests that we touch on a few ways to make sure you’re using the best sunscreen. Many are likely familiar with these, but anyone new to skin care might not know they need sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater to properly protect the skin. Additionally, the sunscreen should offer broad spectrum protection. A physical sunscreen is ideal, but chemical sunscreens will work if you haven’t been able to find a physical one. These are relatively simple rules and should be easy to remember alongside the best way to apply the sunscreen.

Give Yourself Time
People commonly put on their sunscreen and head right out the door. This isn’t the best plan in the world. Most people have chemical sunscreens instead of physical ones. Chemical sunscreens actually need time to settle before you’ll be getting proper protection for your skin. These products generally have directions that say as much on their packaging, but people end up ignoring them because everyone assumes they know how to apply sunscreen properly. Most chemical sunscreens require somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes to sink into the skin properly. This will give it time to interact properly with your skin’s natural defenses and provide a proper barrier that will be harder for sweat and water to simply wash away immediately. Depending on why you’re applying the sunscreen, you can potentially use the time after applying the sunscreen to finish preparations for your time outside. This is particularly useful when you’re preparing for a day outside or for a run to exercise. Just reserve a few preparations for after sunscreen and you should be good to go by the time you’re done.

Use Enough Sunscreen
There’s no getting around the fact that many of us end up worrying about streaking when applying a healthy amount of sunscreen. “Too much” sunscreen seems harder to rub in and as if we keep finding streaks of the product on our skin. This actually means you’re probably using just enough of the sunscreen. Whether chemical or physical, you need to apply sunscreen thickly to get the protection listed on the bottle. It may seem to detract from one’s appearance for a bit, but you might wish to remember that the sunscreen does eventually fade some into the skin. The streaks eventually fade as the sunscreen settles and you can be sure your skin is properly protected. So apply sunscreen thickly if you’re going to use it and don’t be afraid that seeing streaks means you’ve used “too much”. Your skin will thank you later.

Renew Your Sunscreen
People commonly forget another part of sunscreen labels regularly too: you need to reapply it regularly. Sunscreen, whether chemical or physical, has a certain span of time it works through. This varies depending on the product, but a good rule of thumb is to apply sunscreen every two hours or so. Checking your sunscreen itself should give you a better idea of that particular product’s lifespan once applied to the skin. You’ll want to be prompt and apply the sunscreen again before it runs out to provide your skin with the best possible protection. The reasons for this decreasing effectiveness vary a little between the types of sunscreen, but not not substantially. Sweat, movement, and other factors all gradually decrease the amount of sunscreen left on your skin. Chemical sunscreens even begin to evaporate off eventually. Consequently, you must remember to apply it regularly.

People are their own biggest enemies when it comes to utilizing sunscreen properly. It is all too easy to fall into a mindset where sunscreen becomes a “set it and forget it” aspect of protecting one’s skin. Sunscreen’s biggest investment is in finding the right product, but making sure you use the product properly will help your skin a lot too. These few simple rules should help you do just that.

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