man applying susncreen to a woman

How to Apply Sunscreen

Not using sunscreen correctly can be detrimental to your skin. Not only that but it can mean a wasteful purchase. Follow our guide on how to apply sunscreen & how much sunscreen to apply so you can stay safe in the sun!

How to apply sunscreen

How to Apply Sunscreen: Why is Sunscreen Important?

We know by now that despite how nice it is to soak up the rays on a hot summer's day, overexposure to the sun can damage our skin. Wearing sunscreen is essential for everyone of all skin types, ages and genders to protect skin from the sun's UV rays. Not wearing sunscreen or applying it correctly can leave you exposed to premature ageing and carcenogenics, applying sunscreen correctly will help to defend your skin against this.
lady applying NIVEA spray sunscreen to her arms

How to apply sunscreen

How to Apply Sunscreen: Why Correct Application is Important

So we know that it is important to wear sunscreen, by does applying it correctly matter? Simply put, even the best sun cream applied incorrectly will leave areas of your skin exposed to the sun and harmful UV light. Applying sunscreen correctly means fully covering all areas of your skin that may be exposed and reapplying as often as necessary to maintain a safe level of UV protection.

This guide will support you on how much sunscreen to apply, how to apply sunscreen to your own back, how to apply sunscreen to your face and how often you should reapply sunscreen to stay safe in the sun and keep your skin happy.

how to apply sunscreen

How to Apply Sunscreen: How Much Sunscreen to Apply

It is very common for people to not apply enough sunscreen, which can lead to odd and uneven tanning as well as unwanted skin damage. The technical answer of how much sunscreen to apply is approximately 2 milligrams per square centimetre of skin, this will ensure you are getting the SPF indicated on the bottle of your sunscreen.

In reality, we know most people aren't going to measure milligrams per centimetre of skin so as best practice try to use at least 2 tablespoons, or a shot glass full amount of sunscreen to cover exposed areas of skin. For your face alone you should be using a squirt of sunscreen around the size of a 10p coin.

If you are using a spray on sunscreen, such as NIVEA Protect & Dry Touch Invisible Sun Spray SPF 50, as opposed to a cream, ensure you are applying to the point you have an even glaze all over your skin

How to apply sunscreen

Step-by-step: How to Apply sunscreen On Your Face & Body 

So we know we need roughly 2 tablespoons full of sunscreen for our body and a blob the size of a 10p for our face, but you don't need to smear this whole amount on in one long squeeze of the bottle. Instead follow these simple steps to easily apply sunscreen on your face and body:
lady applying sunscreen to her shoulder

Step 1: Apply Your Sunscreen Before You Go Out

It is particularly important to apply your sunscreen before you expose your skin to the sun. This because your skin needs time to absorb most sunscreens before it is protected, applying sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going out is what is recommended.

girl dotting on susncreen

Step 2: Dot the Sunscreen All Over Your Face and Body

The best way to apply your sunscreen to your face and body is to dot it on, evenly convering all areas of exposed skin. Do this directly from the bottle by squeezing it gently so a small amount comes out at a time. If you are using a spray, spray all over your exposed areas until they are fully covered. Applying sunscreen to your face and body this way helps your skin to easily absorb it, as well as leading to more even coverage.

lady rubbing sunscreen into her skin

Step 3: Gently Massage the Sunscreen Into Your Skin

Gently massage the sunscreen into your skin using a circular motion with your hands making sure that it is thoroughly rubbed in and that no streaks are left.

feet in the sun

Step 4: Add An Extra Few Dots

Once you have rubbed in your original application, add an extra few dots to small areas that have not received sufficient coverage and massage in. Commonly missed places are the neck, backs of hands and tops of feet and ankles.

lady wearing a hat

Step 5: Don't Forget Those Ears!

Squeeze a small amount from the bottle onto your fingertips to cover your ears (dotting directly onto your ears can be tricky, but you don't want to miss them!)

woman applying sunscreen

Step 6: Reapply Your Sunscreen

It is especially important to reapply your sunscreen, following this process at least every 1.5-2 hours, and more regularly if you are swimming. This will ensure you maintain an adequate level of UV protection to stay safe.

How to Apply Sunscreen

How to Apply Sunscreen To Your Own Back

Just like you need sun cream for your face, you need sun cream for your back to keep it safe from sun exposure. The best way to do this is to obviously have a caring partner, friend or relative apply it for you, that way they can see what they are doing and ensure an even coverage. But how do you apply sunscreen to your own back without any help?

Unfortunately there is no easy solution to this, least of all because you cannot actually see your own back to ensure an adequate level of coverage. Short of contorting in front of the mirror to rub sunscreen into those hard to reach spots, here are a 2 other unconventional methods to apply sunscreen to your own back:

  1. Using a flannel wrapped around a spatula or wooden spoon (or anything with a long handle!). Wrap the flannel around the head of your chosen utensil and then dab the sunscreen onto it. Then use the utensil like a back scratcher to rub the sunscreen over your back.
  2. Using cling film. Spread out a good length of cling film and dollop the sunscreen in the middle. Next perform a similar action you would as if you were drying your back with a towel, rubbing the sunscreen coated cling film over your back to apply.

nivea protect and dry touch sun mist spray spf 50

How to Apply Sunscreen to your own back

Alternatively to these rather taxing methods of how to apply sunscreen to your own back, you could use a sunscreen that comes in the form of a mist spray. A mist spray sunscreen does not require rubbing in and is much more convenient to apply to hard-to-reach areas than a traditional cream.

Why not try our NIVEA Protect & Dry Touch Refreshing Sun Mist SPF50? This non-greasy sunscreen spray mist is sprayable from any angle, up-side-down and is quickly absorbed by skin so you can spray it onto your own back for reliable UV protection.

dad spraying sunscreen onto his son
kids roll on sunscreen

How to Apply Sunscreen

How to Apply Sunscreen for Kids

Getting your kids to sit still for long enough for your to apply their sunscreen can be quite the task! Most kids are very eager to get off and play, which can make it tricky to apply their sunscreen. Luckily we have a wide selection of spray and roll on suncreams which can make this task a little easier for you!

Using a roll on suncream like NIVEA Kids Protect & Care Roll-On Sunscreen SPF 50+ allows you to easily cover your little ones vulnerable skin in reliable UV protection so they can be safe from sun exposure. What's more this roll on suncream for kids is only 50ml so neatly fits into your handbag, allowing you to conveniently keep it with you on the go.

How to Apply Sunscreen

The Importance of Reapplying Sunscreen

We're sorry, but one application for a full day outdoors is just not going to cut it!

lady floating in the sea

how to apply sunscreen

Why it is important to reapply your sunscreen

A lot of us are very good at applying our sunscreen when we first venture out into the sun, but how many of us consistently top up our protection throughout the day? It is very common for sun damage to occur later in the day, when the protectiveness of your original application begins to fade, or after you have had a swim in the sea or pool.

Without the proper protection you expose your skin to damage, as well as sun induced ageing - such as wrinkles and dark spots. So it is worth applying and reapplying your sunscreen correctly and consistently.


how to apply susncreen

When to apply & Reapply sunscreen

  1. Apply sunscreen every day that you will be exposing your skin to the sun. And remember it does not have to be a particularly sunny day for the sun to be strong and cause damage!
  2. Apply your sunscreen 20-30 minutes before exposing your skin to the sun. This ensures that your skin has had time to absorb the cream and be protected.
  3. Reapply immediately after any excess sweating - if you have been playing sports and working up a sweat on the beach, this can cause your protection to wear off, so be sure to reapply your sunscreen after sweaty activities.
  4. Reapply immediately after swimming or any water activities. Although NIVEA sunscreens offer extra water resistance, no sunscreen is 100% waterproof so be sure to reapply your sunscreen immediately after getting out of the water. Do not worry about our sunscreen affecting the oceans where you are swimming though, as all NIVEA sunscreen is certified as reef safe sunscreen.


With the city name we are able to locate your area and to determine the right uv index.


It’s a low uv index for [city]

With a low UV index from 0 to 2, no special sun protection is necessary. Nevertheless, you should at least use products with a sun protection factor for your day care in order to protect your skin. A sun protection factor should be chosen that is at least twice as high as the stated UV Index (e.g. UV Index 2, sunscreen with SPF 10).


It's an average uv index for [city]

With a medium UV index of 3 - 5, wearing outer clothing (shirt, T-shirt, blouse) is recommended. You should wear sunglasses and additionally protect your skin by applying sunscreen. A sun protection factor should be chosen that is at least twice as high as the stated UV Index (e.g. UV Index 5, sunscreen with SPF 10).


It's a high uv index for [city]

With a high UV index of 6 - 7, you should definitely dress your upper body. You should wear sunglasses and you should not do without headgear. In addition, the skin must be protected with a sunscreen. The SPF of sunscreen is at least twice as high as the UV Index. You should not only stay in the sun, but alternate between sun and shade.


It's a very high uv index for [city]

Avoid staying outside in the hours between 11 and 15 o'clock in the case of a very high UV index of 8 - 10. Even in the shade, the skin must be protected by long-sleeved sun-proof clothing. Long trousers are just as popular as sunglasses with UV protection and headgear with neck protection. The SPF of the sun cream that must be applied is more than 15.


It's a very high uv index for [city]

With an extremely high UV index of 11, 12 and higher, you should stay indoors during the lunch hours. Even outside this time it is advisable to seek out mainly the shade. Long trousers and long-sleeved, sun-proof outer clothing are obligatory, as are sunglasses with UV protection and a headgear with neck protection. Even in the shade, it is essential to use a sunscreen with SPF greater than 15.

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