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The Right Way to Apply Sunscreen

Rodan + Fields Essentials SPF 50 Sunscreen in Hand

You may have recently read or heard recently that it’s only necessary to apply a small amount of sunscreen onto just a few areas of your face — namely, the cheeks and nose. Spoiler: That’s not enough product to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays. Plus, sunscreen should be applied all over your face and neck to properly cover the exposed areas.  

In this post, we’ll talk about the correct daily application methods of sunscreen, we’ll share Dr. Katie Rodan’s and Dr. Kathy Fields’ approach to all things SPF and will debunk the myth that sunscreen should be applied only where the sun hits. 

The Correct Amount of Sunscreen 

Not only do you want to be cognizant of applying your sunscreen all over your face and neck, you also want to make sure you’re using the correct amount of it. A touch of sunscreen just isn’t enough to do the job. The AAD and FDA suggest that you use  approximately two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin. In other words, you should apply about one half of a teaspoon of sunscreen to your face every day for best results. An easy way to measure two milligrams is to apply two fingers’ worth of it to your face and neck. Don’t forget your ears! You want to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30+.  

What Are UVA & UVB Rays?  

Sun exposure is your skin’s nemesis when it comes to aging. There are two rays that are responsible for photoaging. First, UVA, the aging wavelength of light. It’s around year-round, all day long. UVA rays deeply penetrate the skin and  break down collagen.  

UVB is the burning ray that destroys the epidermis, or the top layer of your skin. UVB rays burn the surface of the skin, causing redness and even skin cancers. “Whether it is cloudy, rainy, or bright, you need your sun protection every day because every day is ‘sunday’ as far as your skin is concerned,” says Dr. Katie Rodan.  

SPF: The Most Important Antiaging Product In Your Routine 

If I were going on vacation and I could only bring one product with me, I would bring the Triple Defense Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30 because it does a number of things, including the most important job of sun protection,” Dr. Katie Rodan says. Even if you’re inside and sitting by a window, UV rays can still penetrate and affect your skin. Dr. Katie Rodan says that a lot of women who tan and come to her office with sun damage have a  misperception that if they have abused their skin and aging changes become visibly apparent, she  will be able to rescue their with “a magic laser eraser, undoing all of the damage and restoring their skin to its virginal state when it looked young and healthy.”  But the fact is, of course,  there is no magic wand! Sunscreen and staying out of the sun is your best antiaging defense.  

The Correct Order Of Products In Your Morning Routine  

Step 1: Wash Your Face 

The first step in your morning routine, cleansing helps you start fresh and prepare your skin for the active ingredients you’ll apply later.  

Step 2: Tone 

Set the tone for your skin with a good toner. Toners refine your skin’s surface, providing what it needs to look smoother or hydrated. If your skin is combination or oily, a toner can reduce the look of large pores and excess oil. If your skin is normal, dry, or sensitive, toners can address redness and flaking. Target your skin concern with a toner tailored for your desired results.  

Step 3: Apply Serum  

If you feel your skin needs a bit more hydration or brightening, a face serum targeted to your skincare goals is an additional step that makes a big difference in the morning. Choose one with Hyaluronic Acid for hydration; Vitamin C for brightening.  

Apply a Face Moisturizer with SPF Protection 

Next you want to moisturize your skin and protect it from UV rays with a moisturizer enhanced with a sunscreen of at least SPF 30. You want to make sure to use an SPF every day—whether you leave the house or not (windows!) to counteract photo damage. You want to apply your SPF last so that it can protect your skin. That’s why you smooth it on after your serum or moisturizer, which can dilute its efficacy if applied over top.  

Apply Eye Cream 

Do we really need an eye cream twice a day? If you want to see maximum benefits, you do! In the morning, gently apply your eye cream to your under-eye area and allow the product to dry prior to applying any additional products.  

Sunscreen Reapplication Is Key 

Because sunscreen doesn’t last all day, you should always reapply it after two hours. “You can use the greatest anti-aging products that have ever been created, but if you aren’t sun protected, you undo all of that hard work,” Dr. Kathy Fields says. “Today, we are assaulted from the environment in ways we didn’t imagine before. Not just with the sun, but also with nanoparticles and lights of different intensities,” she adds.