Is There a Right Way to Apply Sunscreen? You Bet.

We caught up with a dermatologist for the 411 on how to apply sunscreen.

Apply sunscreenphoto credit: shutterstock

Yes, there is a right way to apply sunscreen.

When it comes to sunscreen, it’s a must-have summer skin product essential. And while sunscreen may come in a variety of formulas, there is in fact a right way to apply it. That’s why our editor-in-chief, Beth Thompson, caught up with dermatologist Dr. Paul Cohen, owner of the Rosedale Dermatology Centre in Toronto for the 411 on all things sunscreen application. Here are 4 tips you should keep in mind.

Now sure what you’re looking for when it comes to product? Check out our fave mineral sunscreens — all available in Canada.

When should you apply sunscreen?

“I recommend applying sunscreen 10 to 15 minutes before sun exposure,” says Dr. Cohen. “That said, if you apply your sunscreen at 9 a.m., stay indoors and avoid any sweating, exercising or swimming, you should still be quite protected. As a general rule, reapply every two hours when in constant sun exposure.”

How much do you need?

“You need to use a shot glass for a full application; always apply a thick, liberal layer to all exposed skin and reapply often (at least every two hours),” says Dr. Cohen. “Too many people underutilize sunscreen, applying too thin a layer to get the full protection factor.”

Before or after serum?

“Serum goes on before sunscreen, so it can properly absorb into skin; this also allows you to reapply sunscreen as necessary,” says Dr. Cohen. (Not getting results from your serum? Find out the what mistakes you could be making.)

And what about bug spray?

“Bug repellant goes on first so that it can be absorbed into the skin, before SPF; you will need to apply more sunscreen later, but you don’t necessarily need to reapply bug spray, unless you notice that the bugs are bothering you.”

What about vitamin D absorption?

“Too many people believe that using sunscreen leads to vitamin D deficiency, and that the best way to obtain enough of it is through unprotected sun exposure,” says Dr. Cohen. “Yes, using sunscreen decreases vitamin D absorption, but in all honesty, sunscreen doesn’t block all UVB rays from reaching your skin; SPF 30 blocks 93 percent of UVB and SPF 50 filters out 98 percent. This leaves anywhere from 2 to 7 percent of solar UVB reaching your skin. The truth is, it doesn’t take much sun exposure for the body to produce vitamin D. In my opinion, the risks of sun exposure outweigh this benefit, and I will stand by using a sunscreen every day.

More importantly, the sun isn’t the only way to get vitamin D. There are healthier alternatives including diet and supplements. You can easily take an oral supplement (1,000 – 2,000 units a day depending on age and health). In food, fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon are good sources, and may common foods such as milk and orange juice are fortified with vitamin D. Food, supplements and incidental, protected sun exposure will give you all the vitamin D you need, without subjecting yourself to the risks of unprotected sun exposure.”

Next, don’t miss these silent signs you have a vitamin B12 deficiency. 

Originally Published in Best Health Canada