Pro Logic: How to Apply Sunscreen Properly Wednesday 17 July, 2013


Find yourself burning despite the fact you applied sunscreen? You may be applying it incorrectly. Here’s five tips on how to avoid sunburn through proper sunscreen application.

Recently, I took a trip to Barbados and, one day, we decided to go on a snorkeling/booze cruise. At the crack of dawn, I realized: I didn’t pack enough sunscreen. We had run out, and with every store closed, it looked as though we were going to be in big trouble. Luckily, the cruise captain had a bottle to spare; it was 70 SPF spray mist. I thought, heck yeah! We’re going to be A-OK. Wrong.

Who knows what happened. Perhaps we didn’t rub it in enough, or we sprayed more mist into the air than on our skin. Maybe we didn’t reapply enough—though I swear, I misted the heck out of myself every hour or so. The truth is: You can use a sunscreen, but if you don’t apply it correctly, it does you no good. My husband and I woke up with burned and bubbled skin. I was PO’d, to say the least.

Sunscreen’s efficacy has a direct correlation to your application. “People who get sunburned usually didn’t use enough sunscreen, didn’t reapply it after being in the sun, or used an expired product,” says Amanda Friedrichs, MD, FAAD. “It’s important that people take the time to choose an effective sunscreen and properly apply it.”

So how do you ensure your skin won’t bubble over despite your efforts? Dr. Friedrichs recommends you follow these tips when applying sunscreen:

Choose sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher, is water resistant, and provides broad-spectrum coverage, which means it protects you from UVA and UVB rays.

Apply sunscreen generously before going outdoors. It takes approximately 15 minutes for your skin to absorb the sunscreen and protect you. If you wait until you are in the sun to apply sunscreen, your skin is unprotected and can burn.

Use enough sunscreen. Most adults need at least one ounce of sunscreen, which is about enough to fill a shot glass or the amount you can hold in your palm, to fully cover all exposed areas of your body. Rub the sunscreen thoroughly into your skin.

Apply sunscreen to all bare skin. Remember your neck, face, ears, tops of your feet and legs. For hard-to-reach areas like your back, ask someone to help you or use a spray sunscreen. If you have thinning hair, either apply sunscreen to your scalp or wear a wide-brimmed hat. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm with a SPF of at least 15.

Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours to remain protected, or immediately after swimming or excessively sweating. “Your skin is exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays every time you go outside, even on cloudy days and in the winter, so remember to always use sunscreen when outdoors,” said Dr. Friedrichs.

A new video from the American Academy of Dermatology, “Sunscreen: How to Apply,” demonstrates dermatologists’ tips for applying sunscreen for optimum protection.


Do you follow all of these sunscreen rules? Sound off in the comments!

Karie L. Frost Signature

(Info courtesy of


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