a complete guide to applying sunscreen to your face

The benefits of sunscreen are by now well known, with awareness campaigns teaching the public about the risks of excessive sun exposure. We also know that your face is one of the most vulnerable areas of your body. But how is it best to apply sunscreen to your face for maximum protection?

How much sunscreen do you need on your face?

To properly cover your face, most adults will need between 1 and 2 teaspoons of sun cream. This should be enough to cover your face, your ears and exposed parts of your neck, as well as your hairline, which are all important areas not to forget. You should aim for a pretty thick layer of broad spectrum sun cream all over your face.

Which SPF is best for your face?

As your face is always uncovered to the sun and exposed to UVA & UVB rays, even on cloudy days in the UK, it’s important to make sure you apply SPF on your face all year round. When applying sun cream to your face, it’s important to remember that the skin on your face is more delicate and sensitive than the skin on other parts of your body, and some of us have very sensitive and easily irritated skin. This means you may have to pay more attention to the products you apply to your face. 

Many sun cream products are formulated specifically to be used on your face, but not all face sun creams are the same. Some ingredients you might want to look out for and to avoid include alcohol, which is found in many sun creams but is very drying, and PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) which many people react badly to. You may want a water-based or more lightweight sun cream if you have particularly oily or acne-prone skin. If you are likely to go swimming, you should opt for a water-resistant sun care product. And, if you have very dry or sensitive skin, you might want to look for a more soothing and rich sun cream. We also recommend using a lip balm with SPF to protect your lips from UVA and UVB rays.

How to apply sunscreen correctly

There can be some confusion about whether you can apply sun cream with ordinary facial moisturisers, and which order you should apply these products in. In many cases, you can use a face sun cream in place of an ordinary facial moisturiser, although in the winter or if you have very dry skin you can certainly use both. If you are using both, we always recommend applying moisturiser or skin care first before applying your SPF. So if you’re using a lighter textured sun cream apply that first, and then follow it with your regular moisturiser.

How often should you reapply?

We use the SPF factor of a sunscreen to tell how long it is likely to protect our skin for. If a sun cream product has a SPF 30, this means that it should protect you against sunburn for 30 times longer than if you didn’t use it. We recommend using an SPF of 30 or higher on your face to ensure maximum protection and make sure to re-apply several times throughout the day, especially when you’re out in direct sunlight.

You should always reapply sunscreen after you’ve been swimming, have washed your face, or have been sweating more heavily due to exercise or hot weather. Even if you’re using a waterproof sun cream, these generally last longer than their non-waterproof equivalents, but you’ll still need to reapply the protection frequently.