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When Should You Reapply Sunscreen and How Often Used It in the Seasons?

by Alma Bartram

Sunscreen is an essential component of any skincare routine, providing protection against the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. It shields the skin from sunburn, premature aging, and the risk of skin cancer. However, to ensure maximum effectiveness, it’s crucial to know how often you should reapply sunscreen. This article will explore the frequency of sunscreen application and provide practical tips for optimal sun protection.

Different Factors That are Affecting Sunscreen’s Duration of Effectiveness

Sun Protection Factor (SPF): 

The Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, is a measure of how effectively a sunscreen protects against UVB rays, the main cause of sunburn. Higher SPF numbers provide more protection, but regardless of the SPF, sunscreen needs to be reapplied regularly.

Sunscreen Formulation: 

Different sunscreen formulations, such as lotions, creams, gels, and sprays, have varying durations of effectiveness. Some products are water-resistant or sweat-resistant, which can offer extended protection, but reapplication is still necessary after a certain period or activity.

Sun Exposure Intensity: 

The intensity of sun exposure plays a significant role in determining how frequently sunscreen should be reapplied. If you are spending more time outdoors or engaging in activities that make you sweat or come into contact with water, sunscreen will wear off faster and require more frequent reapplication.

What are The General Guidelines for Sunscreen Reapplication?

Follow the Two-Hour Rule:

As a general rule, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, regardless of the SPF level or formulation. This frequency ensures that your skin remains adequately protected throughout the day.

Immediate Reapplication After Swimming or Sweating: 

If you swim or sweat heavily, even if the sunscreen is water-resistant, it’s crucial to reapply immediately after towel-drying to maintain effective protection. Water-resistant sunscreens can lose their efficacy after approximately 40-80 minutes of water exposure, depending on the product’s specifications.

Pay Attention to High-Risk Areas: 

Certain areas of the body, such as the face, ears, neck, and the back of the hands, are more susceptible to sun damage. Apply sunscreen generously to these areas and reapply more frequently to ensure continuous protection.

Here Are Different Tips for Sunscreen Application and Reapplication

Use an Adequate Amount: 

To maximize the effectiveness of sunscreen, apply a generous amount to all exposed areas of the skin. The general recommendation is to use about two tablespoons (30 milliliters) of sunscreen for full-body coverage.

Don’t Forget Lips, Scalp, and Eyes: 

Areas often overlooked but equally vulnerable to sun damage include the lips, scalp (especially if you have thinning hair or a bald head), and the delicate skin around the eyes. Use lip balm with SPF, wear a wide-brimmed hat, and consider sunglasses for added protection.

Layer Sunscreen with Other Sun-Protective Measures: 

While sunscreen is essential, it shouldn’t be the only line of defense against the sun. Combine it with other sun-protective measures like seeking shade during peak sun hours (usually 10 am to 4 pm), wearing protective clothing, and using sunglasses.

Choose a Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen: 

When choosing a sunscreen, look for the best sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Look for ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which provide effective broad-spectrum coverage.

Sunscreen for Various Skin Types

Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin:

Individuals with sensitive skin may experience irritation from certain sunscreen ingredients. Choose physical sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as they are gentle and less likely to cause allergic reactions.

Sunscreen for Oily or Acne-Prone Skin:

For those with oily or acne-prone skin, select non-comedogenic sunscreens labeled as oil-free or gel-based. These formulas won’t clog pores or exacerbate acne, and some even offer a matte finish to reduce shine.

Sunscreen for Dry Skin:

If you have dry skin, opt for sunscreen lotions or creams with added moisturizing properties. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin to keep your skin hydrated while protecting it from the sun.

Sunscreen for Different Activities and Environments

Sunscreen for Outdoor Sports and Activities:

If you’re engaging in outdoor sports like hiking, running, or playing beach volleyball, it’s crucial to choose a sunscreen that can withstand intense physical activity. Look for water-resistant and sweat-resistant formulations to ensure the sunscreen stays on your skin even when you’re sweating profusely. Reapply every 40-80 minutes, depending on the product’s water resistance specifications, to maintain consistent protection.

Sunscreen for Swimming and Water Activities:

For swimming and water activities, opt for a sunscreen specifically designed for prolonged water exposure. Water-resistant sunscreens typically provide protection for 40-80 minutes, but it’s essential to reapply immediately after drying off to ensure continuous coverage. Additionally, consider using a waterproof sunscreen if you plan to spend an extended period in the water.

Sunscreen for Traveling:

When traveling to sunny destinations, you may find yourself spending more time outdoors exploring tourist attractions. In such cases, choose a sunscreen with a higher SPF, at least 50, and make sure it offers broad-spectrum protection. Apply before heading out for the day, and remember to reapply regularly, especially if you’re visiting places with limited shade options.

Sunscreen for Daily Use:

For everyday use, a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is generally sufficient, unless you have specific skin concerns or spend extended periods outdoors. Consider using a lightweight and non-greasy formulation for easier application and to encourage daily compliance.


In conclusion, sunscreen is a crucial aspect of sun protection, but proper application and reapplication are essential for optimal effectiveness. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, regardless of SPF or formulation, and immediately after swimming or heavy sweating. Pay attention to high-risk areas and use adequate amounts of sunscreen for full-body coverage. Combine sunscreen with other sun-protective measures and choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Consider water-resistant, physical, or non-comedogenic formulations based on your specific needs. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the sun safely while minimizing the risk of sun damage and its associated health concerns.

Read Also: Healthy and flawless skin

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