SPF Mistakes

10 Sunscreen Mistakes You’re Making Without Even Knowing!

Spoiler alert: You’re probably not wearing enough.

Applying SPF is arguably the most important skincare step  for maintaining healthy skin. It reduces the risk of skin cancer and prevents premature aging. By incorporating SPF into your skincare routine consistently, you are investing in the long-term health and beauty of your skin. . 

But did you know that there are common mistakes many of us make when it comes to sun protection.

In this post, we will uncover the top 10 sunscreen mistakes you might be making without even realizing it. Before we grab our sun hats, let’s remind us of the difference between UVA and UVB. 

UVA is a wavelength of light that penetrates deeper into the skin and can be even more harmful than UVB with respect to the risk of skin cancer. Think of it this way UVA -A for ageing and UVB – B for burning.

SPF Mistake 1. Not applying enough

Do you know exactly how much SPF you should be applying? One of the biggest mistakes people make is not applying enough sunscreen. Even if you’re already in the habit of lathering up before you head outside, listen up: You probably need to slather on even more.  Studies show that most people only apply 25-50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen.

How much sunscreen should you apply?

The general rule of thumb is to use about a shot glass worth of sunscreen for your entire body. Yes, that much! Applying a thin layer won’t provide sufficient protection, and you’ll end up getting less SPF than what the product claims. So an SPF 30 may become an SPF 15. 

 An easy way to measure out enough suncreen for your face is the two finger trick. Squeeze out spf along two fingers and this is enough to cover your face and give it protection. 3 fingers will do your neck and chest. Another way to measure Is  ¼  to ½ of a teaspoon of product.  

Spray and stick suncreens are a bit harder to measure.  SPF Expert Lab Beauty Muffin breaks it down here

SPF Mistake 2: You don’t reapply frequently enough

Reapplication of sunscreen is an absolute necessity, without exceptions. Regardless of the designated SPF, whether it’s 15 or 50, all types of sunscreen, including those labeled as water-resistant, experience notable deterioration within two hours of sun exposure. This degradation happens even sooner if you’ve been swimming or sweating profusely. However, it’s crucial to understand that the significance of reapplication extends beyond leisure time spent at the beach.

Reapply every 2 hours!

Which brings us to our next mistake..

SPF Mistake 3:  You only apply sunscreen when you know you’ll be outside

Think you’re safe behind windows? While glass does shield you from those pesky UVB rays, UVA rays are a different story. Those sneaky rays can penetrate regular office, home  and windows Incorporating sunscreen into your daily regimen every day of the year is crucial. Even during activities like driving or sitting beside a window, your skin remains susceptible to the sun’s rays.

An illustrative example is provided by a study featured in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, which revealed that over 50% of melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma cases (both serious forms of skin cancer) emerged on the body’s left side. This is the side more exposed to UV light while driving. Interestingly, research conducted in Australia, where vehicles drive on the opposite side of the road, indicated a higher incidence of skin cancer on the right side of the body.

SPF Mistake 4:  Thinking you don’t need spf when it’s raining / cloudy / during winter

Mistakenly assuming that SPF protection is dispensable on rainy, cloudy, or winter days is a common blunder. Despite the absence of direct sunlight, harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays can still penetrate through clouds and cause skin damage. Rainy weather does not provide an effective shield against these rays, and the risk of UV exposure remains significant. Similarly, the winter season doesn’t diminish the UV threat; in fact, UV radiation can be even more potent when reflected off snow.

Consistent SPF application is vital throughout the year, regardless of weather conditions, to safeguard your skin from premature aging, sunburn, and the long-term risk of skin cancer. So, don’t be misled by cloud cover or cooler temperatures—prioritize sun protection as an essential part of your daily routine.

SPF Mistake 5. Skipping Spots

You must apply sunscreen to all areas that’ll be exposed to the sun, and there are a few spots people tend to miss. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting your ears, the back of your neck, the tops of your feet, eyelids and your lips! A study published in April 2019 in the journal PLoS One found that nearly 20 percent of participants did not apply sunscreen to their eyelids, and the study participants had no idea they’d missed this spot. That’s worrisome, because the skin on the eyelid has the highest incidence of skin cancer per unit area.

SPF Mistake 6. Using Expired Sunscreen

How many times have you reached for that sunscreen at the back of the cupboard? Did you know that sunscreen has an expiration date? Using expired sunscreen is a common mistake that many of us make. Over time, the active ingredients in sunscreen can degrade, making it less effective. Always check the expiration date on your sunscreen bottle before applying it. If you can’t find the expiration date, if it has expired, or you’re just not sure… it’s time to invest in a new bottle to ensure you’re getting the full sun protection you need.

SPF Mistake 7. Leaving Suncreen in the car – Or anywhere that can get hot

It may seem like a good idea to leave a bottle of sunscreen in the car so you always have protections in an arms reach but your car is not the best place.

Sunscreens can degrade with exposure to high temperatures (I know somewhat ironic 🙄) and the temperature can rise quickly. 

This leads to inadequate protection which means skin damage!

So don’t leave your sunscreen in the car (or in direct sunlight!)

SPF Mistake 8 You rely solely on sunscreen

Sunscreen is an important element of sun protection, but it shouldn’t be the only one.  We must also avoid prolonged and intense sun exposure (like tanning) when­ever possible and wear clothing and accessories to help block the sun. Darker-coloured fabrics with a tight weave and fit offer the most UV protection. Certain clothes also provide an ultra­violet protection factor (or UPF), with most boasting a UPF of 50+

SPF Mistakes 9 You think having darker skin makes you immune

An individual with very dark skin might possess a natural SPF ranging from 5 to 8. However, while the heightened melanin content can mitigate the risk of sunburn, it offers no defense against UVA rays and the associated risk of skin cancer. Moreover, due to the skin’s darker hue, the absence of an obvious burn indicator makes it challenging to identify substantial sun damage. Detecting the onset of skin cancer on dark skin later becomes intricate, as conditions like basal-cell carcinoma, which presents as pearly pink on fair skin, manifests as subtle brown spots that tend to scab more readily on deeper skin tones. Consequently, the diagnosis of skin cancer on dark skin often occurs at an advanced stage, leading to graver outcomes. Notably, late-stage melanoma diagnoses are twice as frequent among Black and Native American patients compared to White patients. 

Bottom line: All skin colours must wear sun protection daily, because everyone can get skin cancer from UV exposure.

SPF Mistake 10. Thinking that if your moisturiser or foundation has spf that’s enough

While multitasking products might promise simplicity, you can’t always depend solely on your daily moisturizers or makeup like foundation for full protection.

Remember SPF Mistake 1: Skimping on application. Imagine using enough foundation to get the complete SPF coverage – we’re talking two fingers or a 1/4 teaspoon! That’s more foundation than I’d prefer on my face, how about you?

Prioritize a dedicated sunscreen product. It’s the finale in your skincare routine, taking a few minutes to absorb before you layer on your foundation. And guess what? You can even reapply SPF after foundation throughout the day!


Sunscreen is an absolute must for maintaining healthy and youthful skin. By avoiding these common mistakes and following the proper sunscreen application techniques, you can ensure that your skin stays protected from harmful UV rays. So, the next time you step out into the sun, remember to slather on that sunscreen generously, reapply it regularly, and don’t forget those easy-to-miss areas. Your skin will thank you for it in the long run!

Protect your skin and stay sun-safe by incorporating these sunscreen tips into your daily routine. Your skin will thank you for it!

Irish Beauty Blogger

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