Applying for Protection

Last month, we provided direction on how to select the “best” sunscreen to help prevent skin damage to you or your family. As confusing as selecting the proper sunscreen is, equally confusing is how, when and how often it should be applied! Thus, we thought we would clear up some misconceptions about this, as well.

Even if you are only going to be in the sun for a few minutes, you should apply sunscreen. Permanent skin damage begins after just two minutes in the sun. Sunscreen should be applied if you are going to be driving. Many people notice that they have more sunspots on their left arm and left side of their face. Though glass blocks UVB rays well, UVA rays are able to penetrate the glass and damage your skin.

Contrary to popular belief, makeup with sunscreen in it may not provide adequate protection. Most makeup will usually only have an SPF 20. In addition, dry skin lotions with sunscreen in it may not provide enough protection either. You are probably better off having separate sunscreens and lotions. Pure sunscreen products are usually tested for sunscreen persistence and water resistance, whereas makeup or lotions with sunscreens added may not be as rigorous over time.

What is the best way to apply sunscreen with lotion and makeup? Apply the lotion first and then the sunscreen. For makeup, apply the sunscreen first and then apply makeup after.

Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours; every one-hour if you are in the water. Scientific tests on skiers showed that re-applying sunscreen every 2.5 hours resulted in five times more sunburns than compared to re-applying sunscreen every 2 hours.

Finally, most people don’t apply enough sunscreen. In fact so little is applied that most people achieve only 1/2 the SPF on their skin as indicated on the product’s container (if it says “30 SPF”, you end up only getting the equivalent of 15 SPF). When doing a full body application of sunscreen, a normal size adult should use one ounce of sunscreen (the size of a shot glass). A family of four should go thru one tube of sunscreen during 1 day at the beach if the sunscreen is applied properly (thick enough) and re-applied as recommended (every 2 hours).

For more tips on how to better protect your skin and the skin of your family, please call Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Care at (661) 254-3686 or visit our website at