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The 5 Sunscreen Mistakes You Are Probably Making

By Dr. Sanober Doctor
January 8, 2024
5 minutes

Before applying sunscreen, please read the manufacturer’s precautions to avoid sunscreen application mistakes. We recommend using sunscreen in your daily skincare routine as it benefits the skin. Besides sunscreen’s commonly known purpose, the best sunscreens have two or three additional ingredients that benefit the skin immensely.

Wearing sunscreen correctly will keep your skin looking healthy as it protects the skin from harmful ultraviolet radiation. This isn’t always the case. Many times even beauty gurus make sunscreen mistakes like applying small amounts. Not applying sunscreen correctly only hurts your skin. 

Whether it’s a sunscreen pre-application or post-application mistake, it loses the purpose of applying the sunscreen. Among the reasons for applying sunscreen are the prevention of skin cancer, hyperpigmentation, and the blocking of harmful sun rays. Suppose you use a sunscreen with a low SPF rating and expose yourself to a sunnier climate for longer than is recommended on the sunscreen.

5 Sunscreen Mistakes You Are Probably Making

5 Sunscreen Mistakes You Are Probably MakingDespite the misinformation and myths deterring many from protecting their skin with sunscreen, you should make them your travel partner. However, there are many sunscreen mistakes you probably make every day. Do you reapply sunscreen after staying out in the sun or staying in a swimming pool for hours? 

Here are other mistakes you should avoid.

 1. Using sunscreen with moisturizer

Using sunscreen with moisturizerIt’s wrong to mix sunscreen with moisturizer. Mixing sunscreen with moisturizer dilutes the sunscreen’s strength making it less effective. Since these two products contain different ingredient profiles, there’s a high likelihood of triggering negative reactions on your skin. Applying a mixture of these two skincare products can cause irritation and skin rashes. 

Experts recommend either applying moisturizer first and finishing with topical sunscreen. Even when the moisturizer has SPF elements, it would be wrong to mix it with sunscreen. If you’ve got a chemical sunscreen, dermatologists recommend applying it before the moisturizer but after cleansing and exfoliating. 

Until and unless you’ll be indoors all the time, it’s not right to mix sunscreen with moisturizer.

2. Using spray sunscreen like it’s perfume

You shouldn’t spray sunscreen like a perfume. You need to apply it generously for it to be effective. It therefore means you’ve to spray sunscreen close to the skin around 6 – 8 inches, and 3 – 4 times to ensure you’ve adequate coverage that can block or absorb all the harmful UVA and UVB.

There’s also a very high chance of inhaling those chemicals. If possible, consider using lotion sunscreen as opposed to the spray.

Spray sunscreen doesn’t distribute evenly. It would be therefore wrong not to give your skin a gentle pat to improve the sunscreen’s absorption.

3. Getting a tan despite wearing a sunscreen

Getting a tan in spite of wearing a sunscreenIf you develop a tan, it means the ultraviolet radiation can reach your skin and cause a significant amount of damage. This means you aren’t applying an adequate amount of sunscreen. Or, you aren’t reapplying it frequently. Your skin may also darken after applying sunscreen due to ingredients.

A tan otherwise called burn is a sign of a skin crying for health. Don’t overstay out in the sun especially at peak hours to avoid the sun rays penetrating the sunscreen layer into the skin. People get tanned even after applying sunscreen because sunscreens whether spray or lotion don’t block or absorb 100% of ultraviolet rays.

4. Not applying sunscreen on your neck, chest, and hands

When applying sunscreen, you should do it on all exposed parts of the body. Using sunscreen to protect your face alone from UV rays is a mistake. Most people take it for granted and ignore applying sunscreen on the chest, neck, and hands. 

When you always focus on the face and ignore the exposed areas, you also expose yourself to skin cancer risks, sunburns, hyperpigmentation, and excessive hydration.

5. Using sunscreen as the only form of skin protection

Using sunscreen as the only form of skin protectionUsing sunscreen is one of the ways that help to protect your skin from harmful sun rays. Even after adequately applying sunscreen on your exposed body parts, you should also use other skin protection methods. The skin is among the most sensitive parts of your body when exposed to the sun. 

Other effective ways to protect your skin from UV rays according to the CDC include wearing a hut, sun protective clothing, and avoiding strong midday sun. 

Tips to Wear Sunscreen Correctly

Tips to Wear Sunscreen CorrectlyIt’s possible to use sunscreen and fail to realize its full benefits. According to the FDA, when staying in the sun, you should apply sunscreen to all uncovered skin and reapply after every two hours. Whether staying in the sun or shade, protecting your skin from sun damage should always be a priority.

Then, how do you apply sunscreen properly? After choosing a sunscreen with an SFP of 30+ that can provide broad spectrum coverage, follow these tips to apply it effectively.

  • At all times ensure you apply at least 1 ounce of sunscreen to every exposed body part. These include neck, feet, face, lips, ears, nose and hands.
  • You should make it a habit to apply sunscreen before going outdoors. Since it takes approximately 15-30 minutes for the sunscreen to get absorbed, it’s good to wait until it’s fully absorbed before going outdoors.
  • Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, make sure you apply sunscreen daily. Because ultraviolet rays penetrate through the window and door glasses, wear sunscreen even indoors.
  • Shake the sunscreen thoroughly to mix the particles that are clumped up in the container. During cold weather, most liquid products tend to clump up. Again, residuals which include sunscreen ingredients will mix well after shaking the bottle.
  • Take extra care to minimize the eye risks caused by spraying sunscreen. Experts recommend using stick sunscreen when applying around the eyes.


Forgetting to shake the sunscreen bottle before applying is often overlooked by many. Equally, not reapplying sunscreen after spending a few hours in a swimming pool is another mistake. The fact is, most sunscreen products like the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch recommend reapplying sunscreen after 80 minutes of swimming. 

In general, to avoid the many sunscreen mistakes you probably make every day, have a sunscreen-applying plan and make it habitual.

Dr. Sanober Doctor
Sanober Pezad Doctor is a double-board certified dermatologist, & a leading expert in Integrative and holistic Dermatology. She is the face behind the popular YouTube channel- Healthy Aging with Dr. Doctor. She is also the founder & creator of ‘AGEnesis™- The Holistic Aging Blueprint’ & ‘Baby SkinWise™- the World's 1st Audiovisual Skincare Guide for Parents‘.
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