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Grab a Spoon: Derms Say This Is Exactly How Much Sunscreen You Really Should Be Applying

Grab a Spoon: Derms Say This Is Exactly How Much Sunscreen You Really Should Be Applying featured image
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When Gwyneth Paltrow’s now-viral, beauty-focused Vogue video hit earlier this week, the star immediately left some heads scratching over her “highlighter-like” application of sunscreen (GP and Goop have since clarified that the video was edited for length and the star did, in fact, apply SPF to her entire face).

So, we had to ask: What is that just-right amount?

In a very visual Instagram video post, New York dermatologist Shereene Idriss, MD shared her healthy-skin SPF recipe, which consists of “one-third to one-half of a teaspoon of sunscreen for your face AND neck.” Dr. Idriss also spent time stressing you should “go to town” and not forget to protect your nose, eyebrows, top of your head (if you are bald) and your ears, as she sees skin cancer in that particular area pop up quite often. 

Likewise, Saddle Brook, NJ dermatologist Dr. Fredric Haberman likes to go by the 1 ounce—or enough to fill a shot glass—to fully cover your body rule, which is also the go-to measurement the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) relies on. (A scary stat: The AAD says most people only apply 25-to-50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen.)

Also by the numbers: “Apply to the tops of your hands, feet, your neck, your ears and the top of your head,” Dr. Haberman adds. “Apply sunscreen to dry skin 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every one-to-two hours.”

Bloomfield Hills, MI dermatologist Linda C. Honet, MD is also a fan of the “one shot glass” standard, and she relies on the “SPF 45 or higher for an hour of fun in the sun” suggestion. “Plus, the closer to the equator, the higher should the SPF be. Reapply every one-to-two hours, especially if sweating or after swimming.”

Besides actual sunscreen in skin-care form, Dr. Honet also adds that it’s vital not to forget that rash guards and other outerwear with UPF provide excellent sun protection as well—and they don’t wear off, even when wet. “Hats, sunglasses and seeking shade whenever possible are important, too,” she says. “Fashion and style don’t have to be sacrificed for intelligent sun protection; many retailers offer numerous options of beautiful, smart and wearable UPF clothing.”

Glenn Dale, MD dermatologist Valerie Callender, MD takes the sports’ analogy route for her best advice: “I like a golf ball–size amount for the face and body,” as Fort Lauderdale, FL dermatologist Dr. Matthew J. Elias says his best quantifier is “a lot more than you think!”

And, in can only be described as the “sweetest” sunscreen-application tip we’ve heard, Davie, FL dermatologist Marianna Blyumin-Karasik, MD recommends a “Hershey’s Kiss amount for the face, neck, chest, hands [that is for each!], which are the most sun-exposed areas” and swears by “SPF 30+ with broad-spectrum coverage.”

Louisville, KY dermatologist Tami Buss Cassis, MD also reminds us that, aside from the amount, it’s also an absolute to apply it every day, rain or shine. “Even if it’s a cloudy day, you can still get fried if you don’t wear your sunscreen.”

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