2020 Edit: This was written in 2009 and is accurate as per 2009. Recent articles now suggest that for the face alone, 1/4 teaspoon of product is sufficient protection. 1 teaspoon would then cover approximately your face, neck and arms. My application method has also changed to approx 2-3 finger-lengths of sunscreen for application to the face.
When I last wrote about the proper way to apply moisturizer and how much moisturizer you really need, reader Sarah left a comment asking if I apply my sunscreen using the same method.
My answer is, “No, I do not use the same method to apply sunscreen.”
The reason is that the recommended amount of sunscreen or sunblock to use is about 1 teaspoon just for your face. How much is 1 teaspoon? Here’s a visual reference.
1 teaspoon is about 5ml by a measuring spoon. That is a lot of sunscreen – believe me! But you see, in the labs where sunscreen is tested, they use up to 2mg of sunscreen per sq inch of skin, so what we use in real life is really not quite enough. However, a teaspoon is a reasonable estimate to use. For the body, its 1 teaspoon each for each arm. Its really way thick so not even I can abide by this requirement.
Since I can’t possibly measure out a teaspoon of sunscreen every morning like baking a cake, what I do is squeeze out my sunscreen on my fingers and then apply to my skin, spreading as I go on my face.
I do this 5 times – 1 forehead, 2 cheeks, 1 nose, 1 chin. Its like the 5 dot method except I don’t dot my skin, I smoothen as I go and I use a lot more than just a dot. Let’s just say I use a pea sized amount on each part of my face.
And I do this 5 times, so that’s quite a lot of sunscreen! Its not quite 1 teaspoon I must admit but its a lot more than moisturizer. This is the reason why I go for cream based sunscreens – its easier to control and to estimate just how much sunscreen I’m applying on my skin. Its harder to estimate with liquid textures.
Some of you might wonder if by doing this and using so much sunscreen I get oily? I don’t. It might be that the sunscreen I use don’t make me oily, or that I have lovely oil control foundation and power or that I have been lucky enough to find sunscreen that work well for me. But this is how I apply all sunscreen, irrespective of brand.
Are you applying enough sunscreen? How do you apply your sunscreen and do you stint on it? Be careful if you are stinting because applying too little sunscreen is as good as not applying any!
p/s If you’re new here, you can read other sunscreen tips or my reviews on sunscreens or sunblocks I’ve tried by following the link.