Generally, sunscreen is a mainstay in everyone’s skincare routine, no matter how few steps the said routine consists of. It protects us from UV rays from the sun, which penetrate the skin, causing sunburns with prolonged exposure and even degrade collagen, which over time can cause premature ageing, discoloration and even skin cancer. Sunscreen acts as a physical or chemical barrier between our skin and the sun, blocking out the harmful UV rays.
So, there’s no question that everyone should be applying sunscreen. However, another question remains: How much sunscreen should we be applying to our faces? Just a dollop? Or do we generously lather it all over? This question has had several different answers, with some even going to rather extreme lengths to find out themselves.
To answer this question once and for all, we asked Dr Rachel Ho, an aesthetic doctor at La Clinic. (She also runs an informative blog covering all things derm-related, which you can check out here!)
Sunscreen on your face
“2 mg/cm2 of sunscreen is the rule,” Dr Ho recommends, “but an easy estimate would be one-quarter of a teaspoon.”
And different sunscreens may have varying SPF levels, but that doesn’t mean that we should apply less, as the sunscreen cannot adequately protect against UV rays if not enough is used.
On the contrary, if you apply more than the recommended amount of sunscreen thinking that it will increase your UV protection, don’t bother anymore. “You’ll just be getting the stated SPF or PA value of your sunscreen, nothing more,” Dr Ho says.
In addition to different SPF levels, sunscreens also can have vastly different textures. Take for example Biore Watery Gel and Banana Boat’s Sport Ultra Sunscreen Lotion. The former is a light gel with a matte finish, while the latter is a thick and oily cream.
Due to this, you may understandably think that you’ll need to apply different amounts, but don’t be fooled — Dr Ho points out that the sunscreen’s consistency is not affected by the sunscreen filters, but rather, the amount of oils the sunscreen has. Thick, creamy sunscreens have higher oil content than lotion sunscreens, but at the end of the day, they may both contain the same SPF level.
For those of you who prefer a spray, it may be difficult to estimate just how much sunscreen has been applied, but the American Academy of Dermatology Association suggests spraying till your skin glistens, while avoiding inhaling the spray. After this, you’re not done yet, Dr Ho reminds. Remember to rub it in to your skin.
Suncreen on your body
Now that we know how much sunscreen to apply on our faces, what about the amount to apply on our bodies?
“The recommended amount is one shot glass or two table spoons,” Dr Ho advises. “An easy way of looking at it would be to apply two finger lengths to each arm, and about four finger lengths for your front and back torso and each leg.”
How often should I reapply my sunscreen?
Most of us just slap on sunscreen in the morning and leave it at that as we go about our day, but did you know that it is recommended that we reapply every three to four hours? The effectiveness of the sunscreen will wear off, Dr Ho says, and we should reapply the same amount each time.
Dr Ho’s sunscreen recommendations
If you’re like us and want to know what sunscreens those in the know use, here you go.
“I have a few for various settings. For day-to-day indoors, I like Shiseido Anessa Perfect UV Milk. For water activities and sports, I use Kanebo ALLIE Extra UV Gel. If I’m using makeup, I like Suqqu Extra Protector 50,” she shares.