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Be Smarter in the Sun
Sunscreen Bands™ monitor damaging
UVA & UVB rays

How to Apply Sunscreen

A recent study by dermatologists found, about half of us don’t really know how to apply sunscreen correctly. Either we don’t apply enough sunscreen or we don’t apply it often enough to stay protected continually. Unfortunately, just like wearing no sunscreen at all, bad sunscreen habits can just as easily lead to skin cancer and other health concerns. Once your skin cells are damaged, there’s nothing that can be done to reverse the effects.

This makes knowing how to apply sunscreen correctly essential to a lifetime of happy, healthy skin. Sunscreen Bands wants to help keep you protected from UV rays as much as possible by giving you the following tips to help you apply your sunscreen to maximize its effectiveness.

Step 1: Choose the Right Formula

Proper sunscreen application starts with choosing the right formula for your skin. Skin type plays a large role in determining which type of sunscreen is best for you. The SPF of a sunscreen is the “Sun Protection Factor,” which is a number value you can use to assess how long a particular sunscreen will protect you from damaging UVB rays. Experts agree you should always use a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher, even on darker skin types. Fair or light-skinned people need to use a sunscreen with a higher SPF (usually 30 or higher).

You should also pay attention to the kinds of rays your sunscreen blocks. New regulations require companies to list if the product blocks only UVB rays and/or if it also protects against UVA rays as well. If the product claims to protect against UVA rays (known as “broad-spectrum” sunscreen), you will find a 4-star rating system; one star means low UVA protection while four stars means high UVA protection.

As a final note, make sure to choose a sunscreen that works for you. Some active and non-active sunscreen ingredients can cause irritation, drying, breakouts, and other skin conditions if you have a certain skin type. For example, if you have sensitive skin, consider getting a chemical-free sunscreen or at least a formula that’s hypoallergenic and fragrance-free. Also consider what kind of work or play you’ll be doing outside to decide if you need a formula that is either waterproof or sweat-proof.

Step 2: Apply BEFORE You Step Outside

Once you select the right sunscreen for your skin, you have to apply it correctly to make sure it’s as effective as possible. This is where most people get into trouble because they either don’t apply enough, don’t apply at the right time or miss exposed areas of skin.

Always apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you go outside. Put your Sunscreen Band on your wrist and apply sunscreen to any exposed skin on your body and over the wristband itself. Pay close attention to the backs of your knees, face, feet and hands since these are the most commonly under-protected areas. Have a friend or family member help cover any areas you can’t reach easily to make sure the entire exposed surface of your skin gets covered. 

To correctly apply sunscreen on your face, start from the center and work your way outwards from the nose. Make sure not to miss your temples, ears, neck and your hairline, as all of these are the most common areas to burn, but avoid your eyes. If you accidentally get some in your eyes, wash them out immediately.

If you’re wondering how much sunscreen is the right amount, it varies (of course) by how much skin surface you have. As a general rule of thumb, experts from the Mayo Clinic advise an average-sized person to use about one (1) ounce of sunscreen (enough to fill a shot glass) for a thorough application.

Step 3: Keep an Eye on Your Sunscreen Band

Once you head outside, your Sunscreen Band will turn purple to let you know it’s activated. It changes to lavender when it’s time to reapply your sunscreen, typically a few hours later. When you reapply, you should use just as much sunscreen on the second application as you did on the first. Also, make sure to cover all of the exposed areas of your skin again, making sure you have someone help with reapplication on your back. If necessary, you may want to find a mirror to ensure your face is covered completely.

After your Sunscreen Band turns yellow-white, it’s time to get out of the sun. Sunscreens are designed to allow you to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, but they can only do so for a limited period of time. Once you reach your maximum exposure limit for the day, reapplying sunscreen isn’t protecting you from the sun’s damage. Always head inside or cover up with sun protective clothing when your Sunscreen Band turns yellow-white.

A note on weather: Clouds do NOT block out all of the sun’s UV rays! Low-intensity UV radiation (a typical cloudy day) is just as damaging to your skin as rays that hit your skin in full sunlight. Always wear sunscreen outdoors, even on cloudy days.