Stash this common kitchen utensil in your medicine cabinet for full-coverage protection.

By Sarah Schreiber
June 14, 2021
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woman squeezing sunscreen in to hand
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Thoroughly applying (and reapplying) sunscreen has a host of benefits, such as minimizing sun damage and lowering your risk of skin cancer. With that being said, a dab here and there isn't enough: You need to mindfully measure out your SPF before you slather it across your face, neck, and ears. That's why we checked in with Dr. Muneeb Shah, dermatology resident physician at Campbell University, who shared several creative ways to guarantee you are using enough. His tips even include one very handy trick that involves a tool most commonly found in the kitchen.

If possible, use a teaspoon measure for cream SPF.

Whether you are outdoors, spending time in the sun, or inside, "you should be applying about one-fourth to one-half of a teaspoon of liquid sunscreen to cover the face, neck, and ears," explains Dr. Shah. "If you want to ensure you're putting on enough, using an actual teaspoon is a great idea." And if you are on the go? "Using the length of your index finger to measure out your sunscreen is another option," he notes, adding that we should be applying about two finger-lengths' worth of sunscreen daily.

Looking to stock up on a new SPF? "My two favorites are EltaMD UV Restore Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 Tinted ($38.50, dermstore.com) and EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 ($37, amazon.com)," Dr. Shah explains. "UV Restore contains tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (a form of vitamin C) that acts as an antioxidant and has collagen boosting ingredients. It also has squalane to give skin that dewy look. UV Clear contains niacinamide, which helps calm and protect skin from inflammation, so it's a great choice for anyone dealing with acne, rosacea, or hyperpigmentation."

Powder and spray formulas are more difficult to measure.

Powder-based SPF formulas shouldn't be measured with a teaspoon. "Instead, I recommend applying the product twice to your face in 30 second intervals," says Dr. Shah. "However, because it is so difficult to correctly measure out powder SPF, I suggest using it for reapplication only." The same goes for spray options: "Typically, spraying until it glistens ensures that enough has been applied. However, a spray applicator makes [quantifying the SPF challenging], so I highly recommend only using spray sunscreens for hard-to-reach places on your body."

Wearing makeup with SPF doesn't mean that you should skip a base sunscreen.

A foundation or tinted moisturizer with an SPF of 30 or higher might offer enough sun protection, but that's really only the case if you've applied enough. Unfortunately, you aren't likely to, since a half-teaspoon of base would leave your complexion cakey or saturated in color. "My overall recommendation would be to play it safe and apply your sunscreen as normal," notes Dr. Shah, before applying foundation.

Apply the same amount of sunscreen during reapplication.

"According to the American Academy of Dermatology, we need to reapply our sunscreen every two hours," continues Dr. Shah. "You will need to reapply a whole new quarter- to half-teaspoon if you're planning on spending more than two hours in the sun." As for whether you should reapply if you're spending the day indoors? "Damaging UV rays can-and will-come through car and home windows," he notes, which is why he advises erring on the side of caution and going back in with SPF on a regular basis.

As for his favorite SPF reapplication product? "The EltaMD UV Sheer Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+ ($30, dermstore.com) is my top recommendation," he says. "Not only is it extremely lightweight, but it blends into your skin effortlessly, leaving no white cast, and is perfect for makeup-users or people with facial hair. With its high SPF and water and sweat resistant formula, UV Sheer keeps up with even the most active of lifestyles."

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