How Often You Should Really Be Applying Sunscreen

Nowadays, you likely know the importance of applying sunscreen on a regular basis — even when the clouds appear to be shielding the sun's rays. But, even during your day at the beach, there are a few ways to get the most out of your sunscreen application and make sure that you're covered no matter where you are.

First of all, your SPF should be a daily addition to your skincare routine. Elizabeth Tanzi, founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and associate clinical professor, department of dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center, tells Allure, "Completely indoor activities don't require sunscreen, but many of us discount the sun that we get on a daily basis from just running errands and all the 'incidental' sun damage adds up. That's why we recommend daily sunscreen application, so you are always protected and don't have to think about it."

Luckily, there are a few ways to make this simple step even easier. Many foundation and moisturizers now contain up to 40 SPF, meaning that applying these types of products takes the extra step out of the equation entirely.

As for the SPF number, the outlet recommends shooting for 30. David Colbert, a New York City board-certified dermatologist explains, "The American Academy of Dermatology always recommends an SPF of 30, because it is clinically proven to be a sufficient amount of protection to reduce or minimize the adverse effects of sunlight."

Reapply your sunscreen at least every two hours

Contrary to popular belief, putting sunscreen on won't prevent you from getting a tan. Unfortunately, the United States is particularly bad at applying and reapplying sunscreen. Currently, the country has a higher incidence of skin cancer than any other type of the disease, Insider notes. Of course, getting sunlight on a regular basis is still important for your overall health as Vitamin D proves essential in multiple biological processes. When you get outside, however, just make sure you're protected.

According to the outlet, your sunscreen is only effective for two hours after your application. Joshua Zeichner, MD, tells Allure, "Ideally, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or more frequently if you are swimming or sweating heavily. The best time to apply sunscreen is before you go outside because there are [fewer] distractions and you can make sure that you have adequately covered all exposed skin areas."

However, if your main sunscreen comes from a spray can, you may want to choose a different variety. Insider reports that spray sunscreens can be less effective — releasing more of the product into the air rather than onto your skin. You can use them when you're in a pinch, but stick to the old fashioned lotion as much as you can.