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24th May 2019

A guide to applying sunscreen

Here are our top tips and advice to getting all over sun-protection

Every day, no matter how careful we are, we are exposed to sunlight. Sun exposure is the main cause of UV damage and about 25% of lifetime UV sun exposure can occur by the age of 20.1 Follow our tips below to stay sun safe.

The first step in ensuring you’re properly protected in the sun is picking a sunscreen with a high SPF.

Malignant melanoma rates have increased rapidly in England in the last 35 years.2 In fact, UK deaths from skin cancer are now overtaking Australia3. Malignant melanoma is the 5th most common cancer in the UK (2011), accounting for 4% of all new cases.4

In many cases, people do not apply enough sunscreen to achieve the label SPF. Furthermore, sunscreens require reapplication throughout the day to maintain their optimum level of protection. It’s important to educate patients on the amount and frequency of application. Below are our tips for an average sized adult.

  • Pick a broad spectrum, high SPF Sunscreen
  • Always apply at least 20 minutes before exposure
  • Apply more than ½ teaspoon (around 3ml) to each arm and face/neck (guidance based on an average sized adult).5
  • Apply every 2 hours, especially after swimming, exercising, sweating and towelling dry


  1. Godar DE. UV Doses Worldwide. Photochem Photobiol. 2005; 81(4):736 – 749.
  2. SkinCancer.aspx
  4. incidence/uk-skin-cancer-incidence-statistics
  5. Schneider J. The teaspoon rule of applying sunscreen. Arch Dermatol. 2002; 138:838-839.

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