Sunscreen Types And Application Tips for Healthy Skin


For anyone who deals with a variety of different skin conditions or even those who are simply looking to maintain the best possible skin health on a regular basis, proper sunscreen usage is an important theme. Particularly if you spend lots of time in the sun, protecting your skin with sunscreen is a must — and knowing the proper amounts and types to apply can go a long way, including for preventing long-term risks like skin cancer. 

In fact, sunscreen use is often a major topic of discussion among skin cancer treatment professionals, who typically recommend proper sunscreen use as one important tool for limiting the risk of developing skin cancer. Here are some basics on the right kinds of sunscreen to use, plus proper amounts to apply regularly to keep your skin protected and healthy.

Protection Type

First and foremost, it’s important to realize that not all sunscreens protect from the full array of ultraviolet rays that come from the sun. There are both UVA and UVB rays that can make their way into the skin, and both can lead to skin cancer and other long-term risks. Sunscreens are classified by their level of protection against these two types of rays, with “broad spectrum” sunscreens providing the best protection. So when shopping for sunscreen, make sure to look for one that has the broad spectrum label.

If a sunscreen only covers UVA or UVB rays, it will likely have a label indicating so. For example, a sunscreen that only guards against UVB rays is called a “UVB-only” sunscreen. Generally speaking, unless specifically instructed by your skin care professional, these should be avoided in favor of broad spectrum options. 


SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and is a measure of how well a sunscreen protects against UVB rays. The higher the SPF number, the more protected you are from these rays. This number actually refers to the amount of time you can be in the sun without sunscreen before getting a sunburn. So for example, if you normally burn within 10 minutes of unprotected sun exposure, using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 would theoretically allow you to be in the sun for 300 minutes (5 hours) before burning.

Generally speaking, sunscreen below 30 SPF should not be used for daily, prolonged sun exposure. You should use at least this level, if not higher, when spending extended time outdoors. 

Sunscreen Application Amounts

While we could recommend sunscreen application amounts based on measures like teaspoons or tablespoons, who actually measures sunscreen this way? Rather, we’ll go with methods that are more familiar:

  • Face: For sunscreen on the face, we recommend applying sunscreen in “finger lengths.” Apply a line of sunscreen to your finger first, then spread it across your face. If more is needed, repeat this process.
  • Neck and shoulders: For the neck, ears and shoulder areas, we recommend using a nickel-sized dollop.
  • Body: For the body, we recommend using a golf-ball sized amount. This will cover most of your exposed body surface.

Remember that these are general recommendations, and you may need more or less depending on your specific needs and activities. Speak with your doctor or dermatologist if you have any questions about how much sunscreen to apply.

Sunscreen is an important part of skin care for a variety of reasons. Not only does it protect against the harmful rays of the sun, but it can also help to prevent skin cancer. In order to get the most out of your sunscreen, it’s important to know how to apply it properly.