How much sunscreen do I apply daily & do I reapply?

I get queried on this a lot – how much sunscreen do I apply on my face daily and do I reapply? Okay, the rule of thumb for sunscreen dosage for the face is 1/4 to 1/3 of a teaspoon but you know what, I don’t really stick to this rule for daily wear. I actually use lesser than 1/4 teaspoon and I don’t reapply. Yeah, I know that’s going to shock some of you but if you’re using the Marie Veronique Organics Moisturizing Face Screen SPF30 like I am, you know it is quite a challenge to apply more.

Recommended dosage according to experts
Back in 2007, I had already mentioned this: some girls suggest that we should be applying half a teaspoon of sunscreen to our face but based on what I’ve picked out from the Wiki, 1/4 to 1/3 of a teaspoon of sunblock is apparently adequate for our face.

Dosing for sunscreen can be calculated using the formula for body surface area and subsequently subtracting the area covered by clothing that provides effective UV protection. The dose used in FDA sunscreen testing is 2 mg/cm². Provided one assumes an “average” adult build of height 163 cm and weight 68 kg with a 82 cm waist, that adult wearing a bathing suit covering the groin area should apply 29 g (approximately 1 oz) evenly to the uncovered body area. Considering only the face, this translates to about 1/4 to 1/3 of a teaspoon for the average adult face.

20% non-micronized, non-nano zinc oxide
For those who don’t know, MVO Moisturizing Face Screen is my daily sunscreen. While I love the product and have been using it almost consistently since early 2009, I haven’t been applying according to the widely prescribed dosage. The reason is because the MVO Moisturizing Facescreen contains 20% non-micronized, non-nano zinc oxide and if you know zinc oxide that is non-micronized, it can create quite a whitecast if you apply too much.

My lesser than 1/4 tsp dosage hasn’t done damage
So this is how much I really use daily for casual sun exposure. Slightly less than 1/4 teaspoon but I believe it has kept my pigmentation under control. In fact, during a period I was testing other products, I actually started seeing some new pigmentation and I quickly reverted back to this one. I believe the multiple antioxidants in the formulation has worked well with the zinc oxide to protect my skin too.

Additional sun protection
However, while I don’t use that much sunscreen daily, I use a DIY Sun Protection Oil underneath this sunscreen. Plus, at some stages, I was also taking some internal sun protection supplement like Heliocare initially and then Astaxanthin later. Of course if I go under the direct sun for outdoor activities, I will use more of the product. Well, actually more than a 1/4 in that case. (So if you see someone with a really pale face bobbing in the pool, that could be me.)

Why I don’t reapply
As to the second question, no I don’t reapply my sunscreen either unless I’m engaged in outdoor activities like cycling or swimming. On a daily basis based on casual sun exposure, I just rely on whatever I’ve applied early in the day. Anyway, zinc oxide is a physical block and hence, it won’t wear off unless I rub or wipe it away.

Depends on what sunscreen you use
Okay, before I go off, I just want to qualify that while this lower-than-recommended dosage and not reapplying has worked for me, it may not be applicable for you especially if you’re using a different sunscreen. At the end of the day, you have to know if the active ingredients in your sunscreen are adequate for broad spectrum protection and photostable enough to take you through the day. If you like to know what are the best sun protection ingredients, check out my post on the best and safest sunscreen ingredients.

So ladies, how much sunscreen do you use daily?  Are you applying enough or slightly lesser than the recommended like me?


  1. Kay says:

    I use about the same amount and I don’t reapply my sunscreen unless I showered again during the day (usually late afternoon), so I washed everything off and reapply everything all over again. I didn’t get darker by applying so little but I believe it’s also due to me staying out of the sun as much as possible.

  2. Emy Shin says:

    As I slowly switch to physical sunscreen, I have been wondering about the “proper” amount of sunscreen to use, as well. A dermatologist commented in a video that the 1/4 teaspoon rule is applicable primarily to chemical sunscreen, which needs to be absorbed by the skin. However, physical sunscreen works as a shield covering your skin — so as long as you have spread sunscreen over every part of face, it should be all right even without using the full 1/4 tsp amount.

    Because physical sunscreen can be very, very whitening, I often don’t use the full amount either. I’m trying out MVO Moisturizing Face Screen next, so it’s really great to see how much you personally used + how that has worked for you so far.

    (Also, a good physical sunscreen with high % zinc oxide that doesn’t break me out is hideously expensive. 1/4 tsp for face daily is just. Yeah. I really can’t afford to spend $250 a year on sunscreens.)

  3. Jasmine says:

    Hi there! I know my qn is not going to be related to sunscreen bt i will like to ask if there is any good clay mask i cn get in singapore? I have like a breakout right now aftr 19 yrs of clear skin:((…

  4. Jyoan says:

    I stick to the 1/4 teaspoon very faithfully. And I don’t reapply too.
    Jyoan last post is: BellaBox Singapore July

  5. Sesame says:

    Sure…I think avoid direct sun contact definitely helps.

  6. Sesame says:

    What the dermatologist comment is good to know…a relief…but I believe the SPF is not adequate when we apply lesser than what is recommended. So in effect, if you apply just enough SPF30 on your face, it might just translate to SPF15 or lower. Not really an issue for casual sun exposure but one would have to be careful with direct sun contact for prolonged period of time. I agree that physical or mineral sunscreens are more whitening and can be a challenge if you want to use more.

    I hope the MVO Moisturizing Face Screen works out well for you too.

  7. Sesame says:

    You might want to try this I just reviewed: You can get sample packs at $5 to try out.

  8. Sesame says:

    If I remember correctly, you actually wait for your sunscreen to absorb and then apply thoroughly so that you meet the 1/4 mark?

  9. Cece says:

    Erm, if the face (cheeks) becomes red after sun exposure, does this mean the dosage of sunscreen applied is not enough/spf is not high enough?

  10. Catherine says:

    Thanks Sesame for sharing this post. Truth is for daily wear I don’t need to reapply. If I’m in the sun, swimming or working out then I do reapply after sweating or getting wet. So glad our MVO sunscreen is working for you!

  11. Catherine says:

    PS. For all of you interested in trying Marie Veronique Organics sunscreen, we are running a promotion this week,

    Enjoy and let me know how you like it.


  12. Sesame says:

    Yes, it might mean that cos the sunscreen is supposed to be protective against sunburn too. But I know certain skin types also turns red very quickly under the sun even with sunscreen on.

  13. Sesame says:

    It’s hard to reapply especially with makeup on but with outdoor activities, reapplication is a must!

  14. Ann says:

    I use the MVO Everyday Sheer Coverage SPF 25. I think the amount is about the same as yours, and I too find it hard to put more as the cast would be more visible. But I find the coverage somewhat insufficient. I’m in the office all day but if I don’t reapply and go out during lunch time, my freckles actually grew darker. So now I layer on devita solar protective moisturiser first then MVO.

  15. Carrie says:

    Great post! I also do not reapply especially when I am wearing make-up, which will be very messy to attend if I have to reapply every couple of hours =P So I’d make sure the SPF of my sunscreen is at least 30 and has UVA protection ?

  16. Amanda says:

    Same here. I find MVO too thick for its recommended 1/4 teaspoon dosage. My skin will look fake if I dare to apply that much! I work indoor most of the time, so I don’t reapply. I guess that’s why a bottle can last such a long time ?
    Amanda last post is: Makeover: How to Ensure You Can Get a Perfect Hairdo?

  17. Sesame says:

    Personally I only used the MVO Everyday Sheer Coverage for indoors or cloudy days. While the texture is great for application, I still prefer the MVO Moisturizing Face Screen for protection reasons. I read of someone who layers the Devita Solar Protective Moisturizer with LRP’s sunscreen.

  18. Sesame says:

    Yeah, my safety number is at least SPF30 too.

  19. Sesame says:

    Yeah, if you try to apply more, it’s kind of difficult to spread.

  20. Swati says:

    I am using neutrogena 50 spf and I do apply huge amount but I donno if its 1/4th!!! but, I don’t reapply as its too difficult for me. the 1/4th rule applies only to chemical ones and they should be applied. these days its cloudy but I do have to go out for lunch in the noons which makes me skeptical if the product is protecting me or not. in fact, I never had these issues when using MVO.
    Swati last post is: I’m MIA!!!

  21. Sesame says:

    I guess it depends on the consistency of your sunscreen. If it allows you to apply more, then it’s great. Usually chemical sunscreens have a couple of ingredients to add to photostability. Some do work quite well.

  22. Sue Lin says:

    I’m currently on La Roche Posay’s Anthelios Fluid Extreme 50. I like that it is extremely lightweight for a SPF 50 with full spectrum UVB/UVA protection. I also apply only once a day, about the same amount as you. So far, the SPF protection is helping to fade scars.

    However, I’m trying to find a cruelty free, lightweight sunscreen that works just as well. My pores don’t do very well with oil-based sunscreens. They tend to pool up and form blackheads very fast. Do you have any cruelty-free sunscreen that is lightweight to recommend Sesame?
    Sue Lin last post is: Nurturing Force Blot Out Offensive Shine + Oil Control Cream Review

  23. Patricia says:

    Hi Sesame,
    First off, thank you so much for all your lovely work. It’s so helpful to have a trusted resource who is so passionate about caring for the body.
    I would love to hear your most recent opinion on the best beach sun protection – I’m going away next week for a vacation and will be in the water and sun every day. I’m with my family so hiding indoors during the hottest sun damaging times of the day will not always be an option. I’ve combed EWG and other resources to make a decision as to which sunscreen product(s) to take with me but i’m left confused. I really, really don’t want to learn the hard way. I’ve tried MV’s products and don’t like the way they look and feel on my face. Certainly, i prefer ‘clean’, natural products, however, this is for a brief period of intense sun exposure so i just want what will protect me the very best. Although some may argue, i think two weeks of chemicals on my skin will surely do less damage than two weeks of UVA and UVB damage.
    It seems, for instance, that La Roche Posay is the only one so far on the EWG list (it’s a looooong list to go through) that rates “Excellent” for both UVA and UVA protection. Badger and Elemental Herbs, on the other hand, rates comparatively as “UVB Good” and “UVA Excellent”. At that rate it would seem that LRP is going to provide superior protection.
    Please let me (us) know what you would do if you were in my shoes. I’m leaving in a few days and would like to make an informed decision and stock up before i head out for fun in the sun.
    Also, if you have an alternate product recommendation for this type of vacation please, do tell ?
    Thank you, Sesame!

  24. Y says:

    I do have to ask even though I use sunscreen daily I still get dark sports on my face, arm and leg even though I reapply them. Most of the time the sunscreen is +45 or +50 and I always reapply. In the morning I usually applied my sunscreen wait a bit then apply bb cream or foundation then powder. You should see me at work @11:30 I will put my sunscreen on to my face, leg and arm. LOL. So the sunscreen have time to absorb before my lunch break. It’s not genetic for sure. My sister doesn’t use sunscreen and she doesn’t get any dark spots at all.

  25. Sesame says:

    Hi Patricia, thanks for your comments! I would recommend you take oral sun protection supplement if you do not mind. I’m not sure if Heliocare is available where you are or you can try Astaxanthin (I got it from iHerb). You need to start taking soon before going on your vacation. I have a reader who went for scuba diving and she reported that her skin wasn’t as dark after she started taking Astaxanthin.

    As for sunscreen, I would go for La Roche Posay when it’s outdoor because they have a combination of chemical and physical ingredients that make their sunscreens more stable. Alternatively Badger is good for coverage but it’ll leave a whitecast for sure. Personally, I find the whitecast is what fends off the UVA/UVB. Actually when I’m outdoors like swimming the entire day or something, I use a combination of sunscreens – physical and chemical and I really reapply very frequently – sometimes as much as every half hour. It’s not really good as it might cause clogging but then I really don’t want to deal with more spots.

  26. Sesame says:

    Some of us can get pigmentation quite easily even with protection. I have pigmentation on my body, parts where I don’t expose to sunlight at all so it’s hard to pinpoint the reason. I suppose in this case, you do your best to protect your skin as well but don’t get unduly upset if you see new ones.

  27. Dora says:

    I cant remember if I have red it somewhere on your site.. but do you also apply sunscreen on your whole body / just the parts that are not covered? I wonder about that because I heard from an old lady that she wished she would have always applied sunscreen on her hands which are now a good sign of everything they have gone through (climate, work etc.) – What do you think? I am not sure if it is a waste of money and product to wear sunscreen all over your body every day.. or maybe at least at the parts seen… but in autumn/winter?

    Do you actually have an article on lip care with SPF? I never know if this is necessary and/or a must-do since lips get dry but no wrinkles or cancer or aging.. I guess. Or I might be wrong ?

    Lots of love

  28. Sesame says:

    I use sunscreen on my arms almost daily (well, can get a bit lazy) but I use a different sunscreen…a cheaper and one with lower SPF. I got scared when I noticed many spots on my arms. I find it helps. But other than that, I only use sunscreen on my face and neck. I live in a tropical country so it’s always hot here. But I image if you’re living in country with seasons and you probably only need to apply sunscreen to areas you expose your skin cos I suppose you’ll be well covered up in winter. Not sure about autumn though.

    I haven’t written anything about lip care but yes, it’ll be good to apply just that I find it rather tricky cos of the ingredients.

  29. Patricia says:

    Great! Thanks for your sage advice, Sesame!
    Do you in fact layer the physical and chemical ones on your face when you’re swimming?

  30. Sesame says:

    YES! I’m quite “paranoid” with sun exposure and I used to do that. Use Jason’s physical sunblock which was quite white and pasty and then layer with La Roche Posay! But it meant a good triple cleansing afterwards too!

  31. Patricia says:

    For sure! lol It can be a challenge getting it all off at the end of the day but it’s worth it.

    I have a question that i’m certain you will know the answer to – i went to CVS pharmacy here in the USA today and they didn’t have any LRP SPF’s with meroxyl (!). They only have the regular Anthelios which is Avobenzone, homosalate, ocisalate, octocrylene and oxybenzone. The ideal active ingredient for the chem sunscreens is meroxyl, correct? The thing is, my vacation will be in Canada and i have a feeling they will sell it in the pharmacy’s there. The LRP website is not helpful because there are so many products.
    Can you advice which of their products you would go for? I’m running out of time and don’t want to get stuck in the middle of know-where in Canada in the water/sun without superior protection.
    Thanks again, Sesame!
    PS. I’m in the process of building a website for health and beauty. I’ll be sure to tell my readers to refer to your library of info!

  32. Patricia says:

    Thanks Sesame! Have a great summer!

  33. Hang says:

    I remember in some article you said that an umbrella with UV protection is a must when you go out, beside sunscreen. Could you tell me what brand of umbrella with UV protection I can get in Singapore, and where to buy it? I will have chance to travel to Singapore next month. Thankyou very much.

  34. Sesame says:

    Hmm…actually my umbrella is brandless. You can find the umbrella at Isetan, a major department store here and they have a variety of umbrellas. I like those that have UV coating. Some are really expensive but the one I bought was moderately priced below S$20.

  35. Hang says:

    I look for one with UV coating and heat reflecting too, at a moderate price of course. I will visit Isetan, thankyou very much Sesame

  36. Sesame says:

    Hope you find what you want. Have fun!

  37. kaithlin93 says:

    Hi Sesame, im really having trouble choosing n buying the right sunscreen…ill always have to see whether the sunscreen will break me out or is it greasy? n its very hard to find one brand with all that criteria…bt i dont mind the white cast sunscreen give to my face..kinda give a lil coverage:) do u have any recommendation of a sunscreen tt i cn buy preferably at watsons or guardian?thx!

  38. Sesame says:

    Smoothie has something but it contains nano particles if you don’t mind. It’s quite affordable…like under S$20. But for those who don’t mind chemical sunscreens, I always recommend La Roche Posay’s Anthelios XL.

  39. kaithlin93 says:

    thanks sesame for the recommendation…bt nano particle is harmful :(…n la roche is quite mom will definitely question tried quite a few of sunscreen..all broke me out from banana boat to neutrogena to the body shop one( my mom’s)….frm a clear skin to NOW having lotsa breakout:(

  40. Sesame says:

    Nano particle is harmful according to some articles but not according to others. The verdict is not firm. But, if you’re not comfortable then it’s best not to use. To be honest, I’ll recommend you spend more on sunscreen than on other stuff.

  41. kaithlin93 says:

    i know right…srsly if thats the case, i would rather spend on a good bt expensive sunscreen that doesnt make me breakout and protect my face from uva n uvb….

  42. kaithlin93 says:

    okay ive decided to get la roche aftr much thought…hopefully it will is the name of product this? la-roche-posay-anthelios-xl-tinted-cream-spf-50

  43. Sesame says:

    Yes, this is the tinted version…

  44. kaithlin93 says:

    oh goshh sorry for the soooo many ques bt i still have qn to ask though…i dunno which to choose from, whether to buy the fluid extreme or the melt in cream or the lotion…btw, i have oily skin…n can i use this if im gng to the beach where ill be in the water most of the time cos im gng krabi n there will be snorkeling..thx alot sesame u dunno how much u have have helped me..anw,i recommended u to the seventeen magazine..hee

  45. kaithlin93 says:

    oh no..why is there ” your comment is awaiting moderation”?

  46. Sesame says:

    If you’re going to the beach a lot, a cream version which doesn’t come off so easily might be good. Although chemical filters work from inside the skin, but most of these sunscreens also have a physical filter like titanium dioxide and that’ll give you added protection.

    Oh thanks for recommending my blog to seventeen. ? But my blog focus may not interest teenagers and young adults so much considering I don’t cover makeup that frequently.

  47. Sesame says:

    I don’t really know why…usually comments are held because of links etc. No worries, if they’re held and not in the spam box, I can see them.

  48. kaithlin93 says:

    alright i was soo happy to see there are tester for all la roche products so i think im gng to purchase the melt in cream one…hope it works for my skin type…thx again sesame
    ur blog covers alot of things n i esp love that u focus on sunscreen n also DIY mask n all…im sure that will be useful for all ages out there:)

  49. Sesame says:

    You’re welcome & I hope you’ll find a sunscreen that works well. Enjoy your break too!

  50. Thelma says:

    I have used the clinique City Block 40 all Summer..I found it great except it came in a small tube for $21.00..I like to try the La Roche Posay but I think that is more expensive..I prefer the physical over the chemical though but physical sunscreen are difficult to come by…

  51. Sesame says:

    There are quite many physical sunscreens but those that apply well are difficult to come by.

  52. Juniper says:

    Hi Sesame,
    Any recommendation for cleansing milk or gel for removing MVO FS?

  53. Sesame says:

    Where are you based? If in Singapore, an affordable one is from Sukin Sensitive available in Watsons.

  54. Robert says:

    The 1/4 tsp applies to both chemical and physical sunscreens equally. There is no evidence you can apply less physical sunscreen.

  55. Sesame says:

    It applies to both yes. But I did not say you can apply lesser for physical sunscreen. All I am saying is what I am able to apply so please read carefully before passing your comment.

  56. may says:

    Hi Ann, by layering those 2, do you still need to reapply during lunch hours?

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