Lay It on Thick…With Sunscreen

by / Wednesday, 14 June 2017 / Published in Wellness
How to apply sunscreen

One gallon.

We can all picture what this looks like, right? One of those big, plastic jugs of milk with the handle?

One gallon is the same as 128 fluid ounces. If you have a family of four, this means you should be emptying a one-gallon jug of sunscreen about every month if you’re poolside daily. Seriously.

According to the experts at the American Academy of Dermatology, the correct way to apply full-body sunscreen is to use one fluid ounce each time we cover up.

And I know all of us can also picture what one ounce looks like (ahem…shot glass). Of course, if you’re built like Dwayne Johnson, you may need a wee bit more than an ounce. If you’re built like Tinkerbell, probably somewhat less. You see what I’m getting at.

Don’t I Already Know How to Apply Sunscreen?

The topic of sunscreen is broad and varied. How to select the right type. Which SPF to use. Whether to even use sunscreen at all. I’m not going to get into any of that. If I’m honest, Google can help you find that information in literally a fraction of a second and from a much better authority than me. No, what I want to talk about is simply the how to.

Like the one-ounce thing. Did you even know you’re supposed to use that much? I know it was news to me. So I compiled a little cheat sheet of a few things you might not know about the mechanics of simply putting on sunscreen. Are you ready?

5 Ways to Apply Sunscreen More Effectively

  1. Think ahead. The UV filters in sunscreen need 20 – 30 minutes to soak into your skin and form a protective barrier.1 Exposure to the sun sooner than that and it’s like you aren’t wearing sunscreen at all. If you’re going to the pool or beach, apply sunscreen before you leave the house. You can even do it in the buff, which eliminates the hassle with suit straps, etc.
  2. Don’t skimp. Keep in mind that your sunscreen’s SPF makes no difference to the amount you should be using for adequate coverage.
  3. Remember the easy-to-miss places:
    • Ears
    • Lips
    • Around the eyes (easy to forget if you’re wearing sunglasses)
    • Tops of the feet
    • Behind the knees
    • In and around the armpits
    • Under swimsuit straps
    • Exposed parts of your scalp, like where you part your hair (My sister once burned her scalp and had the worst dandruff EVER when it started to peel. Ever seen flakes the size of dimes and quarters? No thank you!)
  4. Reapply periodically. Unfortunately, it’s not a one-and-done situation. Been swimming or splashing around? Reapply. Been sweating buckets (even sitting still)? Reapply. Been out for more than a couple of hours? You know the drill. Do it regardless of the SPF you’re using.
  5. Get help. Enlist a friend to help you cover those hard-to-reach places. Like where your muscles get tight across the shoulder girdle.

1 The 20 – 30 minute guideline applies unless you’re using a mineral-based sunscreen, which blocks UV rays with physical filters instead of chemical filters. If your sunscreen lists zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as the primary active ingredient(s), then you can likely forego the 20 – 30 minute waiting period.

 

Kathy Izumi
I’m Kathy. I love pen and paper, glue and glitter, trees and tents, chopping, mincing, stirring, kneading. I run a little, swim a little, and curse a little (especially when I’m too ambitious about the other two). I have one husband, two young kids, and until quite recently, two Madagascar hissing cockroaches in an aquarium in the living room. I’ve lived here and there across the U.S. and the world and am happiest huddled in a corner of the couch reading mystery novels.

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