How should you use a sunscreen product?

Whether it's raining, cloudy or sunny and whether you're inside or outside - UV rays have a damaging effect on your skin 365 days a year. Keep skin protected and younger looking by using a day cream with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30 during the day, every day. All our daytime moisturisers contain a minimum of SPF 30.

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How should you use a sunscreen product?

In this article

Most of us know that we should be using an SPF, but what isn’t so clear is how to use it. From where to apply your sunscreen to whether you actually need to reapply it every two hours, we’ve answered your burning sunscreen questions and dispelled a few myths, so you have all the knowledge you need to protect your skin from sun damage.

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How to apply sunscreen

If your sunscreen is not applied correctly it won’t provide the protection that you need. Here’s how to apply your SPF to ensure that you are getting the most out of your sunscreen.

  • Sunscreen should be the last step in your skincare routine. That means you should apply it over the top of your serum and moisturiser (if using). You can apply your makeup over the top of your SPF, we just recommend giving your sunscreen 3-5 minutes to absorb first.
  • If you really want to protect your skin from the elements use an antioxidant-rich serum before you apply your sunscreen. This helps to shield skin from pollution and environmental damage.
  • It may sound simple enough, but be sure to apply your sunscreen to any exposed skin. Commonly forgotten areas that may need some extra attention are the tops of your ears and the delicate skin around your eyes.
  • Wait before getting dressed. We recommend that you let your sunscreen absorb before you get dressed, otherwise you may end up with more sunscreen on your clothing than on your skin.

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How much of a sunscreen product should you apply?

  • It is impossible to give clear guidelines as to how much of a product you should use, because people are different shapes and sizes and you will therefore need to apply the product to a greater or smaller skin surface. It is important that you apply the product generously. So don’t be too sparing.
  • The more skin covered by impermeable clothing, the less sun cream you will need.
  • Clothing alone is not sufficient if you spend a long day in direct sunlight. There are companies specialised in UV protective clothing.
  • If the amount applied feels too heavy on your skin, apply products with SPF in layers (e.g. a day cream, foundation and compact powder).

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How should you use a sunscreen product?

After applying a sunscreen, should you wait before going outside?

The best thing to do after applying a sunscreen product is to wait 15 minutes before going outside. This is a reasonable amount of time to allow the sunscreen to absorb/dry down and be sure it’s ready to provide the best possible protection.

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How often should you apply sunscreen?

  • Sun protection products should be used every day, rain or shine, because UV rays can penetrate through clouds. Sun protection should always be the final step in your daytime skincare routine. If you apply another skincare product on top of your SPF, the sunscreen will be less effective.
  • Use a day cream that contains other hydrating and skin-repairing ingredients as well as a sunscreen. Then you don’t have to use a separate cream under your sun cream.

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How should you use a sunscreen product?

How often should you reapply sunscreen?

You really do not have to reapply sunscreen every two hours. Sunscreens are broken down by the effects of direct exposure to daylight, not by the passage of time. During an average day – a work day, let’s say – the sunscreen you applied in the morning will still offer enough protection at the end of the day. That is, assuming you have applied enough in the morning and that you will be doing most of your daily activities or your job indoors.

Take note: UV rays can pass through glass. You won't burn, but there is a risk of sun damage if you are sitting next to a window.

The question of how often to apply sunscreen has a different answer if you spend the main part of your day outside. In this case we do recommend that you reapply your sunscreen every two hours, especially if you perspire a lot or go swimming.

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Is a day cream with spf just as effective as a standard sun cream?

When a product has an SPF of at least 30, it provides active protection against UVA and UVB rays and is just as effective as a standard sunscreen. A day cream usually also contains additional ingredients that are beneficial to the skin (such as antioxidants and skin-repairing substances).

Antioxidants are a valuable addition to any SPF moisturiser or day cream. They help neutralise the free radical damage caused by exposure to the sun. In addition, antioxidants help protect your skin against other sources of free radicals, such as blue light from digital devices. Without intervention, this damage can trigger skin discolouration.

Many antioxidants also offer skin-soothing properties (pollution leads to stressed skin). They are also used to stabilise sunscreen formulations, while also increasing their efficacy.

Simply put: antioxidants boost the effectiveness of your sunscreen and ensure maximum protection, while also helping to repair the environmental damage that UV exposure triggers (and some amount of this always happens since no sunscreen is 100% effective at stopping UV damage).

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How should you use a sunscreen product?

Can you apply a product with a mineral sunscreen on top of a product with a synthetic sunscreen?

Mineral and synthetic sunscreen products can definitely be used on top of one another. But using one of them is usually enough, as long as you apply it liberally and make sure it offers broad spectrum protection. At Paula’s Choice all our sunscreen products offer broad spectrum protection, protecting you from both UVA and UVB rays. Layering different sunscreen products is always an option if you need to touch up your sun protection during the day or are looking to maximise coverage.

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Can you use a foundation without spf over your sunscreen product?

You can apply foundation without SPF over your sunscreen without affecting your sun protection, if you follow these guidelines. Skincare is designed to be absorbed into skin’s uppermost layers, so give your SPF product time to settle in. Makeup remains on the skin’s surface, so apply your foundation carefully to prevent your sunscreen from becoming diluted, reducing its effectiveness. If you don’t want to wait, or are concerned that you have reduced your sun protection, choose a foundation or tinted day cream with an SPF of at least 30.

Remember that makeup with SPF is not enough on its own to protect yourself from the sun. Most people don’t apply enough foundation, BB or CC cream to have sufficient protection.

Compact powders or loose powders alone do not offer protection against the sun. However, they are suitable for touching up your makeup quickly and add a touch of additional protection against the sun.

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Can you mix a tinted day cream or foundation with spf to cover the white sheen of a mineral formula?

In order to not dilute or destabilize the formula of your SPF and ensure you get the whole protection, it is best to layer them instead of mixing. Make sure your daytime moisturiser is rated SPF 30 or greater and apply liberally. Let it set for about 15 minutes and then follow with a foundation with SPF for added protection.

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