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How much sunscreen to use – Optimal sun protection for your face and body

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While most people know they should apply sun cream before spending time in the sun, not everyone knows how much of it to use. A lot of us don't apply enough sunscreen, which leads to painful and noticeable sunburns.

There is still some confusion about how much sun cream to use in which body areas, and how often you should reapply. We explain the optimal amount, which products you should use, and explore areas of the body that are typically missed.

Why sun protection is important

Though the sun brightens our mood and promotes our sense of well-being, there are also some downsides. Too much exposure can lead to sunburn, sun allergies, hyperpigmentation and even skin cancer.

Protecting your skin from the sun's damaging UV rays is also critical to prevent premature ageing. While many people forget to use sunscreen unless they're spending time outside or on holiday, SPF protection is actually needed daily. Whenever your skin is exposed to daylight - even through windows or in the shade of a tree - it needs sun cream. Learn more in Skin and the sun.

Read more about how to reduce the risks of sun exposure, how to choose the right sun cream products for your skin in Why do I need daily sun protection for my face? and How should I protect my body from the sun?.

How much sunscreen to use on your face and body

Graphic showing optimal amount of sunscreen for adults
How much sunscreen to use on each area of the body for adults

To achieve the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) reflected on your sun cream, use approximately two milligrams per square centimetre of skin. In practice though, it's difficult to work out how much sun cream to use using this measurement. Instead, you can use your palm to measure how much product to use:

Adult's lotion, fluid or cream: On each region of the body, apply a thick line of sunscreen stretching from the tip of your middle finger down to your wrist.

Adult's spray: Spray 15 times on each area of the body. Shake well before using and apply generously until an even sheen appears on the skin.

Sun cream use for children

Graphic showing optimal amount of sunscreen for children
How much sunscreen to use on each area of the body for children aged 6-10

Children aged 3-6 lotion: On each region, apply a thick line of sunscreen the length of your middle finger and half the length of your index finger. For the head and neck, apply double the amount.

Children aged 6-10 lotion: On each region, apply a thick line of sunscreen the length of your middle and index finger. For children older than 10 follow the instructions for adults above.

Children's spray: 5 sprays on each region for children aged 3-6, 7-10 sprays for children aged 6-10, 10-15 sprays for children older than 10.

Eucerin Sun products are suitable for children from three years and above.

Body areas not covered with sunscreen

Illustration showing which body parts are missed with sunscreen
Body areas typically not protected with sun cream (indicated in red)

Ensure you apply sunscreen thoroughly and do not forget often neglected body areas. Our study found that men leave 13% of the body’s surface uncovered, while women don't apply sun cream to 9% of their body*. 

Some body parts are easy to miss, but while a small patch of exposed skin might seem harmless, thorough application is the best way we can minimise sun damage to our skin. Don't forget to apply sun cream to your eyelids, hairline or parting, soles of your feet and lips.

*Sunscreen application studies with 52 test persons (29 women, 23 men), EADV 2017
**Sunscreen application study with 17 children (4 years old on average), EADV 2018

When should you apply sunscreen?

Apply sun cream 30 minutes before you go outside, and allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin before you get dressed. Getting dressed immediately after can mean the product rubs off on your clothing.

How often should you reapply sunscreen?

Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or more frequently after swimming, towelling off or heavy perspiration to maintain the original protection. 

Remember that if you applied sun cream an hour before going out, you should reapply after being outside for an hour. Reducing the quantity of sun cream will significantly lower the level of protection.

Choose the right sunscreen product for your skin

Eucerin Sun goes beyond UV protection and is tailored to individual skin needs. The Eucerin sun protection range includes a comprehensive selection of products that offer high levels of sun protection.

Whichever product you choose, ensure it contains UVA and UVB, commonly called a broad-spectrum sunscreen. UVA protects against the ageing rays, while UVB protects against the burning rays.

Eucerin Oil Control Sun Gel-Cream Dry Touch SPF50+
A superior facial sunscreen for oily and acne prone skin with an 8h anti-shine effect

Sunscreen products for your face

Sunscreen products for your body and face

Learn more about sun protection on our website, including How to use SPF protection to prevent skin cancer.

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