How often should you reapply sunscreen

As you and your family enjoy being outside this summer at the beach, lake, or other destination, it is important to know how often should you reapply your sunscreen. Wearing sunscreen is an easy way to protect your skin from sun damage that can lead to aging or worse problems like skin cancer. But sunscreen is only effective if it is regularly worn and reapplied.

Reapply sunscreen every two hours

Your fun in the sun can be made a lot safer if you commit to reapplying sunscreen every two hours. The reason is simple: the sun protection factor (SPF) of sunscreen is only fully effective for two hours after you first apply it. The effectiveness of sunscreen degrades after that and you risk sun damage if you do not reapply.

You can easily set a reminder on your phone to alert you when two hours is up after your initial sunscreen application. Taking a brief timeout to reapply sunscreen will help keep your skin protected from the sun’s harmful rays and prevent aging and skin damage.

What kind of sunscreen should you use?

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you  use a minimum of SPF 30 sunscreen that is broad spectrum and water resistant. If you are planning to spend a lot of time outdoors, then choose a sunscreen that is at least 60 SPF to make sure you get the most protection.

Broad spectrum sunscreen means that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. The ingredients you should look for in your sunscreen are:

  • Zinc oxide 
  • Titanium dioxide
  • Avobenzone

Reapply sunscreen after getting wet, sweating, or toweling off

Reapplying sunscreen every two hours may not be enough if you are sweating, swimming, or toweling off. Each of these activities can cause sunscreen to dissipate from your skin.

If you are planning on getting wet or will be in a humid environment, use a sunscreen that is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. Then, make sure to reapply your sunscreen after sweating, swimming, or toweling off in order to stay protected from the sun at the beach, the pool, or while exercising. 

How much sunscreen do I need to use? 

Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends that you need about one ounce of sunscreen to cover your face, neck, arms, and legs. To measure this amount, one ounce is enough to cover your palm. 

Is sunscreen safe for kids? 

Sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can be applied to kids down to age six months without any concerns about chemical absorption or toxicity. Always consult with your pediatric physician if you have any concerns about sunscreen or ingredient safety. 

Any additional questions about sunscreen? 

It is important to consult with your dermatologist or general practitioner before using any sunscreen or other products.

The important thing for you and your family this summer is to have fun and stay safe in the sun!