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More SPF Talk: How Often Should I Apply Sunscreen to Mah Face?

By Amalah

Hi Amy,

So here’s a dumb one: When using sunscreen daily, how often do you apply it? Do you just put it on in the morning and wear it all day, or do you have to reapply every hour? Or is there some entirely different schedule of reapplication? Reading today’s Smackdown made me realize that I mostly don’t use SPF stuff as often as I should because I feel like a dolt for not knowing when to (re)apply.

Thanks — I love the Smackdown, and your site, and Zero to Forty. And Mamapop. And, uh, I swear I’m not a stalker; I just have a lot of time on my hands.

— S

Oh heavens, once a day. Right after washing your face, right when you put on moisturizer and any other assorted creams, and right before applying any makeup. And that’s it, unless your average day involves frequent dips in the pool, or your office cubicle is located on the beach. Or on the equator.
alba%20sunscreen.jpg

Most suncreens are nice and long-wearing, and will provide all-day protection, provided you don’t wash your face again until night time. The only times I will re-apply during the day is when I’m spending an extended amount of time outside — like a trip to the zoo or some outdoor festival, for example. I burn verrrry easily and will generally start getting a little pink-cheeked after four or five hours in the sun if I don’t reapply sunblock to my face.
(One other note, though — UV rays are just as dangerous on cloudy days, so if you’re spending tons of time outside on a hazy day, try to remember to give yourself an extra smear, even if you don’t “feel” like you’re burning.)

BUT for a lot of us, the average day is spent mostly inside. You want to protect your skin from the exposure it gets during the drive to work, or the wait at the bus stop, or the afternoon sun that hits your desk, or the hour and a half you spend with your kids at the playground. If this is the kind of sun exposure your skin gets, then you are just fine with a liberal application in the morning followed by your foundation or powder. It’s not a high-maintenance ritual by any means, so FOR GOD’S SAKE JUST WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN ALREADY.

*topples off of soapbox into an exhausted heap on the floor*

Published April 21, 2008. Last updated August 30, 2017.
Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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