How should you use a sunscreen product?

Paula’s Choice is more than happy to provide you with information about products with sun protection, so that every day you can ensure you give your skin the best possible protection from harmful UV rays. Thankfully, that does not mean you have to keep reapplying a sunscreen every two hours.

Should you reapply a sunscreen product every two hours?

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.

If you spend the main part of your day outside, then we do recommend that you reapply your sunscreen every two hours, especially if you perspire a lot or go swimming.

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).

When should you use a sunscreen product?

  • Use a product offering protection from the sun every day! This is always your final step in your daytime skincare routine. If you apply another product on top of your sun cream, 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.
  • Consider using a serum rich in antioxidants and apply it before you use the sunscreen. This provides additional protection against sun damage.

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 an 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).

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

The best thing to do after applying a sunscreen product is to wait at least twenty minutes before going outside, as the active synthetic ingredients (such as avobenzone, octinoxate and oxybenzone) need some time to work effectively.

The active mineral ingredients (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) do give instant protection against the sun. You should use a mineral sunscreen on your hands and reapply after washing them.

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

Mineral and synthetic sunscreen products can be used on top of one another. Many skincare specialists even recommend that you do this for the best level of protection against the sun.

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

You can apply a foundation over your product with a sunscreen but do give the sunscreen product time to absorb into your skin to prevent the sunscreen from being overly diluted. You can then carefully apply your foundation. If you don’t want to wait, choose a foundation or tinted day cream with a SPF of at least 30.

Do not just use makeup with a SPF to protect yourself from the sun. Most people don’t use enough foundation, BB or CC cream (or do not apply it in sufficient quantities or evenly enough), which means they have insufficient protection.

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

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

If the tinted moisturiser or foundation has a SPF of at least 30, it is fine to mix them. If the SPF is lower, you can only add a few drops. Otherwise you will dilute the sunscreen too much.