SPF 101: The right way to apply sunscreen in 4 critical steps

SPF 101: The right way to apply sunscreen in 4 critical steps

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again… and again until the end of time: There’s no part of your daily skincare routine more important than sunscreen. Incorporating any kind of protection into your routine - whether it’s a dedicated SPF or a multitasking formula - can save you loads of trouble down the line (aka, burns, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles, melanoma).

But as with most things, there is a wrong way and a right way to apply sunscreen. The wrong way? Applying it like you would make up - lightly, selectively, only on your face, as if it’s a highlighter (if you know, you know). The right way? We’re going to break it all down for you!

 Here’s our ultimate guide to applying sunscreen the right way, in 4 critical steps.

 Step 1: Choose the right sunscreen

First things first, make sure you’re using a broad-spectrum formula with at least SPF 30. This ensures you’re protected from both UVA and UVB rays.

 Next, decide if you want a dedicated SPF or a multitasking formula. We get a lot of questions about whether or not using a multitasker makes the SPF less effective. The answer? Nope! As long as it has at least SPF 30, you’re good. And as long as you apply enough of it (more on that later). It can save you a couple of steps in your routine.

 We particularly like using a multitasking daily moisturizer, like our Daily Perfecting Moisturizer SPF 30. Its ultra-hydrating formula comes packed with antioxidants and nutrients that help reduce signs of UV-induced damage. It also helps smooth fine lines and wrinkles, for a dewy, youthful glow from AM to PM. We suggest using it under your makeup as a primer!

Step 2: When to apply

Our golden rule: Always apply at least 15 minutes before sun exposure. This is especially true for chemical formulas, which require at least 15 minutes to absorb into the skin and become effective.

 SPF should also always be the last step in your skincare routine, unless, again, you’re using a chemical formula. This is because products like moisturizers can act as a barrier to chemical sunscreen, causing it to become ineffective.

 Step 3: Make sure you’re applying enough + applying everywhere

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, most people only apply 25-50% of the amount of sunscreen recommended. In order to ensure you’re covering every inch of skin that needs it, follow these two rules:

  • For your face, follow the 2-finger rule: Cover the length of two fingers with sunscreen, then apply for optimal coverage.
  • For your body, follow the shot glass rule: For maximum protection, your body needs 1.5 oz of sunscreen, which is the exact amount of a shot glass.

Make sure to really rub it into and all over your skin to ensure you’re covering every inch. And don’t forget those hard-to-reach and forgotten spots, including your hairline, under eyes, top and back of ears, neck, jaw and lips. We love to use our Solar Stick SPF 40 or Tinted Solar Stick SPF 40 for this. Its easy-to-grip design and rounded top makes reaching these spots effortless.

 Just remember, if it feels excessive, you’re doing it right!

 Step 4: Reapply, reapply, reapply

We can’t stress this one enough. Make sure to read the back of any sunscreen bottles you use to know how often you have to reapply. For most sunscreens, it’s around the 2 hour mark, especially if you’re spending the day outside, swimming or sweating. Even if they’re water-resistant for up to 80 minutes like most of our formulas, you still need to reapply.

Wearing makeup? No problem! Our formulas work either under or on top of your makeup without messing up your look or leaving a white cast. Check out our tinted formulas for reapplication that also provides a matte, glowing finish and blurs imperfections like an Insta filter!


 When it comes to sun care, there’s literally no such thing as being overly-cautious or over-applying!