2535 South Downing Street, Suite 440
Denver, Colorado 80210

Sunscreen 101: How to Choose and Properly Apply Sunscreen

Published on August 3, 2017 by

Broad Spectrum Sunscreen or Sunblock

Choose a “broad spectrum” sunscreen or sunblock that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Just because it says broad spectrum does not mean it truly is “broad spectrum” – so look for key ingredients beyond just the SPF number, specifically UVA protective ingredients such as Zinc Oxide 5% or higher or Titanium Dioxide. Both of these key ingredients help ensure UVA coverage in addition to the UVB coverage of SPF, thus meeting the definition of “broad spectrum”.

Incidental Sun Exposure

For incidental sun exposure, which accounts for nearly 80% of our total sun exposure, such as driving to work or walking to/from your car, we generally recommend SPF 30 or higher with Zinc Oxide sunscreens including a daily moisturizer, such as EltaMD UV Clear, which is sold in our office.

An SPF 30 daily moisturizer used in the appropriate quantity (see attached chart) protects over 93% of harmful UVB rays and this is great for incidental sun exposure. EltaMD UV Clear is very cosmetically pleasing for daily use on the face.

For women: EltaMD UV clear can be used a few minutes before putting on your makeup. Alternatively, EltaMD UV tinted or EltaMD UV Elements can be used as combination makeup tint with sunscreen.

For men: EltaMD UV Clear can be used after shaving daily.

Outdoor Activities

For outdoor activities such as, hiking, biking, skiing, golfing, fishing, etc., over extended periods of time, a dedicated broad spectrum sunscreen or sunblock that is of at least SPF 30 with UVA coverage, including key ingredients of Zinc Oxide 5% or Titanium Dioxide, must be used to provide adequate protection. We offer EltaMD UV sunscreens with Micronized or Clear Zinc in our office for purchase.

There are a variety of EltaMD UV sunscreens which provide a physical block. Visit our website 
 for full product descriptions at www.conradtirremd/skincare/eltamd

EltaMD UV Elements: Tinted, moisturizing sunscreen, water resistant
EltaMD UV Clear: Oil free, calms and protects acne prone skin

EltaMD UV Tinted: Oil free, calms and protects acne prone skin, tinted
EltaMD UV Lotion: Moisturizing lotion, safe for all skin types
EltaMD UV Aero: Spray-on, water resistant up to 80 minutes

EltaMD Lip Balm: 5% creamy long-lasting lip sun protection

Are Sunscreens Really “Waterproof”?

No, the FDA has determined that sunscreens are neither “sweatproof” nor “waterproof”. Although most sunscreen formulations don’t dissolve in water (or sweat), they are easily washed off during swimming and as a consequence of sweating. However, the FDA does allow claims that sunscreens are “water resistant” or “water/sweat resistant” if the sunscreens retain their SPF and/or UVA protection values following 40 minutes of water immersion.

How Much To Apply and How Often

The key to adequate protection is applying the correct amount of sunscreen or sunblock and reapplying every 2-3 hours during daylight…even on cloudy days. That means THREE to FOUR times a day if outdoors. For example, on a typical day of golfing, hiking, skiing, fishing, etc., you would apply sunscreen or sunblock at 9:00AM, 11:00 AM, 1:00PM, and 4:00PM.

Sunscreen or sunblock, just like a medication, requires the proper dosage to obtain the full effect.

Make daily application of sunblock or sunscreen a healthy habit, like brushing your teeth or applying deodorant.

How much do I need to apply?

Body Area
Amount of Lotion Application
More than ½ teaspoon
Right/Left Arm
More than ½ teaspoon per arm
More than 1 teaspoon
More than 1 teaspoon
Right/Left Leg
More than 1 teaspoon per leg

(Note: If using spray, slowly apply 2 even coats, and then rub in to ensure no missed areas.)

It takes about 6 teaspoons of sunscreen or sunblock to cover the entire body once! That is equal to 1 ounce or 1 shot glass full! So, if you and a friend are outdoors for 6 hours, you will each use 2oz, so a 4oz bottle should be EMPTY at the end of the day!

By using adequate solar protection, you can enjoy being in daylight while limiting your exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays that have been associated with causing skin cancer. Remember, daily use of sunscreen or sunblock also has a powerful anti-aging benefits and protects against skin cancer. Sun-protective clothing and hats with UPF are also strongly recommended.

How to Purchase

We offer free shipping!  Call our office at 303-832-3965 and we are happy to ship EltaMD sunscreen directly to your home. 
To learn more about sunscreen, skin cancer, or our practice, please visit our website at www.ConradTirreMD.com. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to be the first to hear about specials and the latest news throughout the year. 

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