It’s common knowledge that overexposure to the sun does serious damage to your skin, and that reality can imbue the seemingly simple task of applying sunscreen with anxiety. Swipe on too little, and you won’t be protected from those powerful rays. And too much? Well, it’s impossible to OD on SPF, but you’ll definitely end up looking and feeling like a sticky mess. Luckily, there’s an easy way to measure the happy medium that will keep your skin safe and make your stash of sun protection last longer (but still be sure to check the expiration date before using).
Recently, one Redditor spent a great deal of time measuring her face to figure out how much sunscreen she needs. And hey, props to this sun-protection expert: Not just anyone would sit down and apply carefully cut-out triangles to their skin with Vaseline to ensure she doesn’t over- or underuse the product. But you don’t need to be a geometry wiz to get an accurate dosage. “The face and neck—including the front and back of the neck—is approximately 3 to 5 percent of your entire body surface area. So, complicated math isn’t so important,” dermatologist Libby Rhee, DO, tells me.
“I’d recommend about 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon of sunscreen for your whole face and neck to ensure coverage. Or, the size of a single edamame bean up to a lima bean.” —Dr. Libby Rhee, dermatologist
According to Dr. Rhee, you can use your kitchen measuring spoons to ration just how much sunscreen lotion to use. “I’d recommend about 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon of sunscreen for your whole face and neck to ensure coverage. Or, the size of a single edamame bean up to a lima bean,” she advises.
To add the rest of your body into the equation, head to your bar cart. “For adults, we recommend approximately the volume of a regular shot glass, which is about 1.5 ounces of sunscreen, for your whole face and body to get the sun-protection factor indicated,” Dr. Rhee says. If you’re ever unsure, you can always apply a little extra, but since you should reapply on the regular—every 90 minutes, or immediately after swimming or sweating—you’re probably good to go.
Who knew? Perfectly protected skin hardly requires a whole bottle’s worth of lotion for every beach visit. And if you throw on a big, fashionable straw hat, you’ll be safe and chic.
Here are nine reef-safe sunscreens to keep you (and ocean life) protected all summer long. Or, check out where you’re probably forgetting to apply sunscreen.
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