You’ll Never Guess How Much Sunscreen You Should Be Using

Photo: Pond5
Photo: Pond5

How can active individuals best protect themselves from the sun? Looking lobster-red after a day of sports or an afternoon spent outdoors can be very painful, and just one serious sunburn during adolescence can double your chance for developing melanoma. (Yikes!) While sun exposure contributes to long-term skin damage, research demonstrates that sunscreen use can lessen signs of aging. Whether you love or hate that beachy, coconut-like smell of sunscreen, shielding your skin should be a priority this summer.

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Not sure how much is enough of the gooey stuff? And is it really worth shelling out for 100 SPF lotions? Protect your skin the right way with these expert suggestions for proper sunscreen use and application, And below, check out the best sprays, sticks and sunscreens that can withstand water and sweat.

3 Pro Tips for Sun Protection

1. Check the fine print.
“Look for something that says ‘water-resistant’ and ‘broad spectrum,’” says Dr. Laura Ferris, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh, and an avid runner and swimmer. In sunscreen speak, ‘broad spectrum’ means a product blocks both UVA and UVB rays.

“If you’re not using a full ounce, you’re not getting that full SPF number.”

2. Apply liberally.
According to Dr. Ferris, a bottle of sunscreen shouldn’t last long if you’re applying it properly. Each application on your body and face should be a full ounce (imagine enough to fill a shot glass) and a nickel-sized dollop of that should be used exclusively on the face.

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“If you’re not using a full ounce, you’re not getting that full SPF number,” says Dr. Ferris, who uses SPF 50 or higher herself, even though the official American Academy of Dermatology recommendation is to use products with SPF 30 or higher. “By going to a higher SPF, we can sometimes compensate for not using the proper amount,” she says.

3. Use a face stick if you sweat profusely.
For athletes, Dr. Ferris recommends a face stick sunscreen since it tends to stay put better and won’t sting eyes when you start to sweat. For those who prefer to spritz it on, she suggests spraying liberally since most products in a can come out in a thin layer.

But what’s a beach bum’s best bet for SPF? Consider stocking up on the following must-haves.

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Originally posted July 2014. Updated August 2015. 

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