How Much Sunscreen to Use?

Last Modified: July 1, 2010

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

How much sunscreen should you use? And how often do you need to apply it?

Answer

Carolyn Vachani RN, MSN, AOCN, OncoLink's Nurse Educator, responds:

Experts say one ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) is enough to cover exposed areas. Sunscreen should be applied 15-30 minutes BEFORE you go outside- not when you get to the beach, park or wherever! Cover all exposed areas and pay particular attention to your ears, face, arms and hands. Don't forget to protect your lips too!

Naturally, if you are a bigger than average person, you would need more lotion to cover exposed areas. So that 5 ounce tube of sunscreen, in general, should only last 5 applications! You should reapply every two hours no matter what you are doing, but sooner if you go swimming or are sweating a lot- even if they are “water resistant”.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series: Sun Safety and Skin Cancer Prevention Webchat. View the entire transcript on Sun Safety.