How to Apply Sunscreen the Right Way

Jun 7, 2023 | Cancer Prevention, Skin, Skincare

As the days grow longer and the temperature rises, we find ourselves eagerly embracing outdoor activities, from beach vacations to backyard barbecues. But amid all the fun and frolic, it’s crucial to remember that the sun’s rays can be both our companion and our foe. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of safeguarding our skin from harmful UV radiation, and how to do it right. So grab your sunscreen and join us on this enlightening journey of sun protection and seasonal bliss!



Misconceptions about sunscreen and avoiding sun damage are plentiful, often leading people to inadvertently put their skin at risk. One common misconception is that sunscreen is only necessary on sunny days. In reality, harmful UV rays can penetrate clouds and cause damage even on overcast or rainy days. 

Another misconception is that darker skin tones are immune to sun damage. While it’s true that darker skin contains more melanin and offers some natural protection, it doesn’t make one completely invulnerable. Sunscreen should be part of everyone’s skincare routine, regardless of skin tone. 

Additionally, there is a misconception that applying sunscreen once in the morning is sufficient for a whole day of sun exposure. In reality, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours or more frequently if sweating or swimming. 

Do not fall prey to the thought that the higher the SPF number on the bottle, the more protection you’re going to have from sun damage. It is not always true that using higher SPF (Sun Protection Factor) sunscreens allow you to stay in the sun longer without reapplying. However, SPF primarily measures protection against UVB rays, not UVA rays, which can still cause skin damage and premature aging. It’s essential to use broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.



Proper application of sunblock is crucial to ensure effective protection against the sun’s harmful rays. Here are four important steps to follow when applying sunblock:

  1. Apply an Adequate Amount: Start by squeezing out a generous amount of sunscreen, typically about one ounce (equivalent to a shot glass). It’s essential to cover all exposed areas of the body, including face, neck, ears, arms, legs, and any other body parts that will be exposed to the sun.
  2. Apply BEFORE Sun Exposure: For the sunblock to effectively absorb into the skin and provide optimal protection, it’s recommended to apply it approximately 15-30 minutes before heading outside. This allows the product to absorb and support a protective barrier.
  3. Evenly Distribute and Massage In: Take your time to evenly distribute the sunscreen on your skin. Start with a small amount and massage it gently in circular motions. Pay close attention to easily neglected areas like the back of the neck, tops of the ears, and the delicate skin around the eyes. Also, don’t forget to use SPF lip balm for lips.
  4. Sunscreen is the Second Layer of Protection: The best way to avoid sun damage and to protect your skin is to use first line layers of sun protection which include SPF clothing, wearing a protective hat to cover both the neck and face, and avoiding the sun when it’s the strongest between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm.

Remember, these steps are not a one-time application process. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more frequently if you’re sweating heavily or swimming. Sunscreen should also be reapplied after towel-drying off from swimming or excessive sweating to maintain its effectiveness throughout the day.


Happy Summer!

Dr. Angela Brimhall

Board Certified Dermatologist

Board Certified Mohs Surgeon

Dr. Angela Brimhall, TheHolisticDerm, is a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon offering skin education and advice that she has learned over the past 15 years of treating patients and helping them with their most common problems, diseases, concerns, skin cancer, and other life-altering skin conditions. She has filtered through and applied what really works to her own life and the lives of her patients and created this space to share what she has learned with you. Dr. Angela Brimhall lives and practices dermatology and Mohs micrographic surgery in Salt Lake City, Utah.