Sunscreen: How Much is Enough?

Q: I’m concerned about protecting my skin from skin cancer — and wrinkles! How much sunscreen should I use? And how often should I apply it? 

A: Use enough sunscreen to generously coat all skin that will be not be covered by clothing. Ask yourself, “Will my face, ears, arms or hands be covered by clothing?” If not, apply sunscreen. Most people only apply 25 to 50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen. Follow the guideline of “one ounce; enough to fill a shot glass,” which dermatologists consider the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body. Adjust the amount of sunscreen applied depending on your body size. Apply the sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes BEFORE going outdoors. Skin cancer also can form on the lips. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Re-apply sunscreen approximately every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily, according to the directions on the bottle.