Sunscreen: Amount to apply for your face

Sunscreen: Amount to apply for your face

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We often hear about the need for a shot glass full of sunscreen to apply to exposed areas of our body, but how much do you need to apply to your face?

The shot glass or one ounce of sunscreen for the body is the amount based on the assumption that the exposed areas will be the areas not covered by a bathing suit.  

For the face alone, a nice unit of measurement is the fingertip unit.  A fingertip unit, also called an FTU, is a simple measuring tool to help guide how much product to use.  One adult FTU is the amount of cream squeezed out onto the fingertip in a line from the first joint skin crease to the tip of the finger.  One adult FTU of product will effectively cover two adult handprints of skin surface area. For most facial products, each hand covers half the face.  This would mean a single FTU of cream will cover the face.  This is similar to two pea sized 'globs' of product. Some sources will refer to this amount as about a 1/4 to 1/3 of a tsp.  If using a spray on product, make sure enough is applied to have nice even coverage.

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Other measurement guides for facial sunscreen:
  • 1/4 to 1/3 tsp
  • 1-2 mL
  • 1-2 gms
  • Nickel size amount

I tend to recommend what I refer to as dip, dot, then smear method for applying facial sunscreen.  Place the sunscreen in your hand. Dip your finger in, dot it on a cheek, dip again, dot on the other cheek, dip again, dot on your right forehead, repeat for your left forehead, chin and nose. Then smear all over.

The most important note for use of SPF containing products is the reapplication.  Reapplying sunscreen every 2 hours  regardless of the SPF factor is key to best use practices.  This is especially important if sweating or swimming!


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