We see it everyday through the summer. Clients coming in with tans that make our icons from the 1980’s jealous. Everyday we also hear “I applied my sunscreen, I don’t know how I’m still tanned!”. Well, there are five mistakes that people make when applying sunscreen or sun block that lead to it being ineffective.  Remember, a tan is never safe. A tan is your bodies way of showing you damage is happening.
Here are the top five mistakes made when wearing sunscreeen and what to do about it!

Not applying enough.

The most common mistake made, is not applying enough. So often SPF is applied as an after thought quickly. A little bit is squeezed out and quickly slapped on then out the door! In order to be effective, enough SPF needs to be absorbed into then skin. Which means that it needs to be worked into the skin with your hands.  If you aren’t needing to work/massage the product into your skin for a few minutes, you aren’t applying enough. A good rule of thumb is that a medium sized person needs 1 fl ounce of sunscreen (think of a shot glass for reference) to effectively cover no bathing suit areas of the body. A taller, larger person will need more!

Not applying soon enough.

So many times we apply our sunscreen when we arrive at the beach (or patio, or lake etc). Sunscreen needs to be applied 30 min prior to sun exposure. This means that you should be applying BEFORE you get to your destination (or 30 min before you go out to garden or mow the lawn or walk the dog). Sunburns can happen in less than 30 minutes, and suntan (sun damage) most definitely can.

Not applying frequently enough.

With higher numbered SPFs, there is a misconception that you are safe for hours and hours.  Any sunscreen needs to be reapplied every 2-3 hours in order to be effective. For maximum effectiveness, reapplication, every two hours is ideal. If you wait longer than three hours, your risk is notably increased. When you are in the water, you need to reapply every 45 min, AND use a water resistant product. If your sweating, reapply every 45 min as well.

Mis-using spray sunscreens.

Spray sunscreens are very popular right now. They are quick and convenient and they travel well. But some of these features make them easy to misuse. In order to reduce the chance you are getting sun damage because you are misusing a spray sunscreen, we recommend a double application technique. To do this apply your first application 30 min before sun exposure , remembering to apply lots, a quick spritz with the spray in NOT enough, skin needs to be visibly covered in the spray. You should need to wait a full minute to two for it to dry, if it’s dry right away you likely haven’t applied enough. Second, apply an ADDITIONAL layer of spray once you arrive at your destination, remembering to reapply every 2 hours.

Picking the wrong product.

So often when it comes to sunscreen we buy the wrong product. We tell clients daily. “The first rule of sunscreen is than you like it! The second rule of sunscreen is that you like it!”. Yes, corny, but it helps  clients remember that if you don’t like it, you won’t use it. The human brain has an amazing ability to “forget” things the subconscious knows it doesn’t enjoy. There are other things to keep in mind when deciding on a product. Things ,like is it Health Canada or FDA approved? Is it mineral or chemical?  Is it water resistant? Am I wearing it around my eyes or other sensitive areas?
For help picking the product that is right for you, give us a call!


Here is a list of some of our favourite sun protection products:
Color Science
SC Phys fusion
Aveeno Baby  – Look for this at large chain drugstores
Sheer Zinc
La Roche Posay Anthelios –  Look for this at large chain drugstores

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