How Much Sunscreen is Enough Protection?

May 6, 2011 | posted by Justin Skeesuck

We all know that wearing sunscreen every day – even on cloudy days – is an important part of our skin care regimen.  In fact, daily application of broad spectrum sunscreen should be considered as important a habit as brushing your teeth!  Wearing sunscreen not only protects you from burning, it protects you from skin cancer and visible aging.  But many people aren’t sure when to apply it – before moisturizer or after moisturizer – and how much needs to be applied for proper protection?

The time to apply sunscreen is after you have applied your moisturizer, so that it sits on the outermost layer of the skin.  Or, if you are wearing makeup (choose a formula that also contains broad spectrum sunscreen for extra protection), sunscreen is the last step just before you apply your foundation makeup.  Apply at least 30 minutes before going outside so that it has time to bind with your skin barrier, and don’t forget to reapply every two hours if you are spending an extended amount of time outside.

So, how much sunscreen is enough coverage?  If you have guessed one full ounce (that is the size of a shot glass) to cover your entire body, then you guessed correctly.  For the face, neck and ears, half a teaspoon is adequate.  The American Academy of Dermatology now recommends two applications to cool (unexposed to heat), dry skin spaced thirty minutes apart before you leave the house every morning to maximize your sun protection.

Remember, May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month!  For more information on preventing skin cancer, please check out the AAD website: