Do you feel like you’re playing the lottery whenever you go to the beach? You apply sunscreen, and yet you’re still nervous about getting burned. Avoiding sunburn isn’t about luck — it’s all about how well you apply SPF, and most of us aren’t doing it properly. Here’s how to get the most out of your sunscreen.
1. Always apply SPF 30 or more.
At the minimum, you should be applying broad spectrum SPF 15 for protection against UVA and UVB rays. But since most wearers don’t lather on enough product, many dermatologists recommend SPF 30. Better safe than sorry.
2. Slather on a shot glass sized amount.
Have a tube from left over last summer? You shouldn’t. For adequate protection, apply 1 oz, or a shot glass’ worth, of sunscreen to cover the entire body. Your bottle of sunscreen should last you no more than a few weeks.
3. Check the expiration date.
Some sunscreens have an expiration date on the bottle. If yours doesn’t, you can assume it loses its effectiveness after 3 years.
4. Focus on one area at a time.
To prevent any streaking, coat a thin, even layer of sunscreen on every part of the body. Start on the legs, making sure to reach behind the knees and around the ankles and feet. Repeat on the entire body, hitting the ears and hairline. The best practice is to slather on SPF when naked so you don’t miss any spots. Because your bathing suit or clothes can shift, you won’t have any exposed, unprotected skin.
5. Reapply, reapply, reapply.
Most people go wrong because they only apply once. For maximum coverage, reup your sun protection every 2 hours. Working up a sweat? Reapply every 30 minutes. Even if the label claims it’s “water resistant,” it only means that the sunscreen remains effective in water for no more than 80 minutes.
Read more: 9 Mineral Sunscreens We Love