ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Truth About SPF and Sunscreen: How Long Should You Wait Before Reaplying and More

Updated on December 20, 2015
jpcmc profile image

I'm a dad, husband, and Christian first. Second, I'm an educator & organizational development professional.


Learn important information about SPF and sunscreen to protect yourself better.

Chances are you've seen labels on sunscreens bottles highlighting the letters SPF followed by a number. Sun Protection Factor or SPF is a measure of how effective a sunscreen product is. Consumers often think the SPF is associated with the time of exposure to UV radiation. They think that an SPF 30 will give them 30 times longer protection before getting sunburn. Unfortunately this is not accurate. It’s not the length of exposure but the amount of radiation that it can protect you from getting sunburn. Simply put, the higher the SPF rating, the more radiation it can repel.

Putting on sunscreen entails more than just slapping on cream on your body. You need to know how to maximize it so you won’t get sunburn. Here are some factors you should consider:

Skin type

The skin type of the person is a huge factor as some people have more sensitive skin than others. Some may absorb sunscreen better while others do not. If the skin does not absorb the sunscreen effectively, it can simply be washed or wiped away easily leaving you vulnerable to sunburn. Moreover, the amount of sweating can also affect the performance of the product. The more you sweat the easier you lose the protection. Your skin type will determine how often you should apply and how long you should wait before going out into the sun after application.

The amount used

The amount used is another important factor in the efficacy of the sunscreen. According to FDA dosage, the average adult must put on 2 mg/cm2. This translates to roughly around 1 oz. of sunscreen for the body and approximately 1/3 teaspoon for the face. Studies have shown that most consumers only use ¼ of what is recommended. As such, one has the adjust the sun protection factor to ¼ of the actual value.

The time reapplication

A recent research by the University of California showed that reapplying sunscreen within 2 hours will be most beneficial. However consumers can reapply more frequently as necessary. In addition, it is best to wait several minutes for your skin to absorb the sunscreen prior to exposure to sunlight. A 15- minute wait is good enough for maximum absorption.

Activity while wearing the sun screen

What you do also affects how long your sunscreen can protect you. Swimming and sweating a lot will drastically reduce your sunscreen’s efficacy thus reapplication must be done more frequently. Even higher SPF sunscreen can not protect you if it is washed off the skin.

Sunscreen ingredients and SPF varies from one product to another. As such, understanding the product and the concept SPF is important so you remain protected. Suffice to say, the best sunscreen is the one that is used properly.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)