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How to Apply Sunscreen

Gone are the days when sun-worshippers lathered up with baby oil. Although shunning the sun is your best protection, knowing how to apply sunscreen is the next best way to prevent that leathery look of yore.


  • Step 1: Choose a sunscreen Choose a sunscreen. It should have an SPF of at least 15 and block UVA rays, which cause wrinkles and brown spots, and UVB rays, which cause sunburn.
  • TIP: Choose a sunscreen that’s formulated for your skin type—like fragrance-free or PABA-free for sensitive skin—and suited to the activity you’re planning, like waterproof or sweatproof formulas for swimming or exercising.
  • Step 2: Check expiration date Check the product’s expiration date to make sure it will still be effective. If the date has passed, or if you know you bought the sunscreen over three years ago, you’re due for new bottle.
  • Step 3: Check the clock Check the clock: You should apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before you enter the sun to give it time to fully absorb.
  • Step 4: Shake & squeeze into hand Shake the sunscreen to mix it and squeeze some into your hand. You should use about an ounce—or two tablespoons—to cover your whole body.
  • Step 5: Rub on sunscreen Generously rub sunscreen on all the areas of your body that may be exposed to the sun, like your feet, legs, torso, back, shoulders, arms, hands, neck, and face.
  • TIP: If you’re going to wear a bathing suit, apply sunscreen while you’re naked to make sure you don’t miss a spot.
  • Step 6: Pay attention to all areas Pay special attention to areas you might forget or miss, like near the edge of a bathing suit, your lips, your ears, near your eyes, and your scalp or the part in your hair.
  • Step 7: Ask a friend to help For harder-to-reach areas, especially your back, ask a friend to apply the sunscreen for you.
  • Step 8: Reapply Reapply sunscreen all over after you’ve been in the sun for two hours—or sooner if you’ve been swimming, sweating, or rubbing against a towel.
  • FACT: In the three decades from 1973 to 2003, the incidence of melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, rose by 81 percent.

You Will Need

  • Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher
  • A friend

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