The Right Way to Wear Sunscreen Every Day

Finally! Warmer weather has arrived and that means more time outdoors, soaking up some sorely needed Vitamin D. Unless you’ve been spending life in a cave, you know all too well how important it is to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. You’re no sunscreen slouch—come swim season you dutifully slather it on from top to bottom, 30 minutes before hitting the sand.


But do you wear it when, say, driving in your car or running errands? Sunscreen isn’t just important when you’re in direct sunlight for long periods, like a day at the beach. You should incorporate it into your everyday beauty routine. We know, there are loads of questions: Which goes on first, makeup or sunscreen? Some makeup products have SPF, but does that count? How the heck do you reapply sunscreen at the office when you already have makeup on?! Fear not—we’re here to help.


First off, what SPF do you need?

As a rule of thumb, dermatologists recommend SPF 30 for everyday use and SPF 50+ for the beach. You should also pump up the SPF to 50+ for any outdoor activities, like a jog in the park, since sunscreen will wick away as you sweat.


So the higher the SPF, the better… right?

Not necessarily. The amount of UV rays that a sunscreen with SPF 30 blocks out, compared to SPF 70, is not as significant as you’d expect: 90 percent versus 98 percent. In other words, it’s more important to reapply every two hours than get hung up on the SPF figure.


My makeup and moisturizer contains SPF—is that enough protection?

The short answer is no. Although BB and CC creams oftentimes do contain SPF, you’d never apply the amount needed to get the SPF protection listed on the bottle or tube. For starters, we don’t apply makeup evenly—we’ll put less around the eyes and maybe add more to uneven skin areas. Also, most of us aren’t reapplying full makeup every two hours, so by the afternoon the SPF in your makeup isn’t effectively protecting skin.


Which should you put on first: makeup or sunscreen?

Step one of your beauty regimen should be sunscreen. Before foundation and blush, rub in the sunscreen and allow about five minutes for it to properly penetrate skin. If your skin type is oily or prone to breakouts, you may prefer an oil-free formulation for the face—try Dermalogica’s Oil Free Matte SPF 30. Take extra care to cover commonly missed places: around the eyes, the tip of the nose, the ears, around the lips and along the hairline. A good application tip? Start from the outside of your face and work your way to the center.


Ok. But how do I reapply sunscreen at work when I’ve got makeup on?

We totally get it: You don’t want to smear sunscreen over your contouring bronzer and look like a melting wax sculpture. But it is crucial to keep your SPF topped up throughout the day even in a low-risk office scenario—whether you’re working near a window or popping out for an iced latte. So what’s a girl to do? Simple: Sweep on a loose face powder with added sun protection, like Peter Thomas Roth’s Instant Mineral Powder SPF 45


Now your skin’s all set to take on summer!