Don't Make This Sunscreen Mistake

by Sienna Fantozzi

You know by now that you need to apply sunscreen in the summer — especially if you're going to be somewhere like the beach or pool where you're laying in the sun all day, but you could be making a huge mistake that's negating the effect of your sunscreen. If you aren't sure how long before swimming you should put on sunscreen, it's time to find out. If you're taking the time to apply it, you want to make sure you're getting the full benefit.

You know what it's like when you get to the beach. You're excited, you can't wait to get in the water, or maybe you're just super hot and need to cool off — but wait. If you just applied your sunscreen when you got there, you aren't necessarily clear to go and dive in. The general rule of thumb is 30 minutes. You want to give the sunscreen 30 minutes to sink in, settle, and penetrate your skin before swimming. However, you should keep this rule in mind beyond considering when you can swim. The 30 minute rule applies to sunscreen in general — it takes about 30 minutes for sunscreen to sink in, so you want to apply it 30 minutes before any sun exposure, not just 30 minutes before going in the water. So that means you may want to apply it before you even leave the house, not when you get to the beach.

To make sure you're getting the most out of your sunscreen application, check out these other tips.

1. Reapply After Swimming

Just because you buy waterproof sunscreen, doesn't make it foolproof. It's actually more water-resistant than proof, so you should still reapply after 30-40 minutes of swimming.

2. Make Sure Your Bottle Isn't Old

La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen, $19.99,

Check your sunscreen's expiration date, or if you can't find it, go by the three year rule. If it's older than three years, you need to toss that bottle.

3. Slather It On Everywhere

According to Dr. Perlmutter of the NY Dermatology Group, your ears and the back of your shoulders are the most forgotten places to apply sunscreen, so make sure you get it all.

4. Ignore The Clouds

Just because it's cloudy, does not mean you're in the clear. Even on cloudy days, you are still vulnerable to UV radiation, so if you're outside, unless it's pitch black out, put on sunscreen.

Images: Walgreens; Studio Firma/Stocksy, Aaron Thomas/Stocksy, Mihajlo Ckovric/Stocksy, Ivan Gener/Stocksy