Why Do You Need to Reapply Sunscreen, Anyway?

Say hello to our old friend human error.

apply sunscreen

We, as humans, have pioneered a lot of technology over the centuries. There was the wheel — that was cool; the first system of celestial navigation — allowed us to travel the open oceans, natch; nuclear power — yeah, not going to go there.

And then, of course, there’s sunscreen: An all-powerful film that you rub on your skin for magical protection from the sun — I hear the spray-on kind is real nice — but, sorry, though we as a species might be on the cusp of interstellar travel, your sunscreen’s still only going to last you TWO HOURS.

Isn’t it crazy that we’re still being told that our sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours because it wears off or something, like some voodoo spell?

As it turns out, that’s not really the story at all. If you can believe it, that myth about your sunscreen no longer working after two hours of direct sunlight isn’t true. But if you think that means you, an Average Joe, don’t have to reapply your sunscreen every two hours, you’re sorely mistaken!

According to the New York Times, technologically speaking, mineral-based sunscreen is totally capable of standing up to the sun without breaking down. The problem, you see, isn’t with the product — it’s with the user. The reason we’re told on the back of the bottle, by our doctors and by society at large to reapply our sunscreen early and often is because we don’t put enough sunscreen on in the first place. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, most people only apply less than half of the amount of sunscreen they should be applying before heading out into the sun, and when they apply, they typically don’t wait the recommended 15 minutes to let it set up.

So how much sunscreen should you be applying? Try a full ounce over your whole body — that’s an entire shot glass’ worth. And when you apply, don’t forget your ears, your pets’ ears and the top of your head. And even after all that, reapply, reapply, reapply. Because skin cancer is no joke, and sunscreen, no matter the SPF, is not 100-percent effective. So the more you put on, the safer you’re going to be.

And like I always say, better safe than sorry!