Summer Skin Care

Here’s *exactly* how much sunscreen you should use on your face

Tehrene Firman

Photo: Stocksy/Alexey Kuzma
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).

As a general rule of thumb, sunscreen should be the last step to your skin-care routine and you should apply two fingers worth (use your index and pointer fingers) to your face and neck. There are a lot of SPF options to choose from, but no matter what you decide on, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30.

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 three to five 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.

Don't forget to apply your sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes prior to going outside, the AAD advises. And if you're staying indoors, it's still imperative to wear sunscreen because UVA rays can penetrate windows. Not to mention, the blue light emitted from electronic devices can damage your skin. In need of sunscreen options? Check out some of our favorites ahead.

Best face sunscreens

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++, $34

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++

This sunscreen has over 134,000 likes on the Sephora site and rightfully so. It's invisible, weightless, and acts like a primer for makeup. This tried-and-true sunscreen is great for those who don't like the sticky, caked on feeling of beauty products.

Shop now: Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++, $34

Dr. Barbara Sturm Sun Drops SPF 50, $145

Dr. Barbara Sturm Sun Drops SPF 50If you constantly find yourself skipping sunscreen because you "don't like how it feels" on your skin, these sun drops are for you. They're lightweight and protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. You can use them alone after your moisturizer or use them before applying your foundation.

Shop now: Dr. Barbara Sturm Sun Drops SPF 50, $145

Coola Makeup Setting Spray Organic Sunscreen SPF 30, $36

Coola Makeup Setting Spray Organic Sunscreen SPF 30

If you wear makeup, this setting spray with sunscreen is a great option. It's formulated to protect your skin from UV rays, reduce shine, and keep your makeup looking fresh all day long. When it's time to reapply your sunscreen, you won't have to worry about messing up your makeup.

Shop now: Coola Makeup Setting Spray Organic Sunscreen SPF 30, $36

Glossier Invisible Shield Sunscreen SPF 35, $25

Glossier Invisible Shield Sunscreen SPF 35

This sunscreen was created for anyone who hates wearing sunscreen. It's formulated to feel like a serum and goes on transparent. It "instantly absorbs into skin," which means it pairs well with makeup.

Shop now: Glossier Invisible Shield Sunscreen SPF 35, $25

Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Sprectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen, $35

Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Sprectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen

Looking for a lightweight, invisible sunscreen that also works well with makeup? This has your name written all over it. Its a two-in-one moisturizer and sunscreen created to protect your skin while also brightening it.

Shop now: Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Sprectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen, $35

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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