How much Sunscreen should I Apply

how much sunscreen to applyNew York City and Manhattan, NY

We all have been preached to about the importance of wearing sunscreen, especially when going out in the sun during the hottest part of the day or when at the pool or beach. We hope by this point that everyone has heeded the warnings of sun exposure and is diligent about wearing sunscreen. But, do you know how much sunscreen is enough? Are you putting sunscreen in all of the right places? What SPF should you be using? These are all common questions that we get asked by patients at our NYC dermatology office. Board-certified dermatologists Drs. Debra Wattenberg and Ilyse Lefkowicz want you to know the answers to these questions, which is what we are here to share with you today.

If you are like most people, you haphazardly rub (or spray) sunscreen in all of the obvious places, hoping that will be enough. Not surprising, however, is that probably isn’t the best way to apply your sunscreen, and it’s putting your skin in danger.

According to a study published by King’s College in London, failing to apply enough sunscreen is as dangerous as using one with too low of an SPF. Researcher Antony Young, a professor at King’s College, said that “There is no dispute that sunscreen provides important protection against the cancer-causing impact of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. However, what this research shows is that the way sunscreen is applied plays an important role in determining how effective it is.”

Most people apply less than half the amount they actually need, meaning that many are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer from the sun’s harmful rays. King’s College research concludes that we all need to apply at least half of a teaspoon of sunscreen on the faces, neck, and on each arm separately. One teaspoon for each area of the front of the body (chest and abdomen) should be sufficient. Also, the same amount each for the back of the body, buttocks, and legs. In all, it should equal about a shot glass worth.

Don’t be fooled by thinking that more is better because slathering on too much sunscreen isn’t going to be any more beneficial than following the above guidelines. In fact, you may end up wasting your money! But, research does show that lathering up more than the average person will be beneficial in protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

Just as important as how much sunscreen you apply is how much SPF to use. It is best to use an SPF of at least 30, as recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology, although a good rule of thumb is always to use more SPF than you actually need. Keep in mind, however, that SPF 30 blocks out 97% of the sun’s rays, and higher SPF’s don’t block out much more than that. In fact, no sunscreen can block out 100% of the sun’s rays. Therefore, purchasing a higher SPF won’t mean that you are any better protection, and it also doesn’t mean that you can go further between applications. Remember to reapply your sunscreen at least once every two hours, or after sweating or swimming, to remain protected when out in the sun.

Dermatologists in NYC

If you would like to learn more ways to protect your skin from the sun or to schedule a skin cancer screening, please contact NY Skin RX by calling (212) 288-3200.

NY Skin RX provides cutting-edge cosmetic and dermatology services to patients in Manhattan, the Upper East Side, and throughout New York City.

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