It seems like a no brainer, right? Apply sunscreen when you go outside and you’re good to go. But it’s not that simple and the directions on sunscreen products are often confusing. The reality is: the when, where, and how you apply sunscreen is important. Unfortunately, UV sun rays are unforgiving; if you don’t apply sunscreen correctly you won’t get the SPF protection that you need.

We’ve reviewed the latest research and have answers to your most sizzling sunscreen questions. Below we’ll share how to correctly apply sunscreen and more!

What should I look for in a sunscreen?

  • Broad-spectrum protection

  • SPF 30 or higher

  • Water-resistant

Tip: Be wary about reaching for that old, dusty sunscreen bottle. Check the expiration date. If the date has passed, ditch the old bottle and buy something new. Changes in the product, such as color changes, separation, or different consistency, are signs that the sunscreen has expired.

how to apply sunscreen

How should I apply sunscreen?

The active ingredients in many sunscreens take time to bind to your skin and become fully protective. However, many all-physical sunscreens with zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide usually work immediately upon application. That’s because they work by physically blocking UV rays. In any case, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of applying your sunscreen before you go outside.

  • Sunscreen should be applied to the skin at least 30 minutes before you go out into the sun. Lip sunscreen should be applied 45-60 minutes before going into the sun.

  • Sunscreen needs to "marinate" on the skin to be fully effective. This is especially important in the water-resistance factor. If you put on sunscreen and jump into the pool 5 minutes later, much of your protection will be lost.

  • This is also important when caring for children. Children are usually wriggle worms and impatient; after all, an outdoor adventure is exciting. Instead, apply sunscreen before leaving the house and once again when you’ve arrived at your destination. It’s always better to apply more sunscreen rather than not enough.

We suggest Triple Duty Plus SPF 35+. A 100% all-physical mineral formulation with broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection, sheer tint for an even glow, and an advanced lipopeptide complex that offers anti-aging benefits.

What step in my skin care routine should I apply sunscreen?

Most medical experts agree: Sunscreen is always the final step in your daytime skin care routine. Apparently this is exactly how sunscreens are tested to earn their sun protection factor (SPF) rating: Nothing goes over them. Any skincare product you apply over a sunscreen often reduces its effectiveness.

woman sitting on beach sunscreen

Do you also need a moisturizer for under your sunscreen?

Most likely, you won’t need a moisturizer under your sunscreen. Many of the best daytime moisturizers such as Revercel AM Moisturizing Sunscreen include SPF broad spectrum protection along with anti-aging and hydrating formulas. You shouldn’t need a second product if the one you’ve chosen is rated SPF 30 or higher, offers broad spectrum protection, suitable for your skin type, and packed with potent antioxidants and other skin-nourishing ingredients.

Antioxidants make a difference: Research has shown that skin gets an extra boost by applying an antioxidant-rich Vitamin C serum before your sunscreen. Antioxidants help further shield skin from environmental factors that slowly chip away at its youthful appearance.

When to reapply sunscreen?

The common recommendation is to reapply regular sunscreen every two hours. The advice for reapplying water-resistant sunscreens after swimming or sweating differs, but is at least every 80 minutes if not more often. Always read the directions on the product and use your best judgment.

How long can I stay in the sun with sunscreen on?

Less is more! It’s wise to stay in the sun no longer than is necessary to do your planned activity. Seek shade often and wear sun-protective clothing, a hat, sunglasses, etc.

If you follow sun safety recommendations and the above tips you’ll be well on your way to keeping your skin protected and looking younger, longer!

As always, if you have additional concerns, get your dermatologist’s recommendation regarding the best sunscreen for your skin type and lifestyle.