I am a bit of a sunblock aficionado. I've used just about every brand and type in my 30-plus years since I was not gifted with any melanin to speak of. So me and sunblock? We're practically besties at this point. That's why I've learned just about all of the sunblock hacks to get you through the summer with your skin protected and your wallet less damaged.
Sunscreen is incredibly important, and not just for those with fair skin. According to the American Cancer Society, diagnoses for the deadly skin cancer, melanoma, have risen sharply over the past 30 years. Now, over 91,000 new cases of melanoma are reported each year, leading to almost 10,000 deaths every year. The best way to avoid getting this disease is with the ample and regular use of sunscreen. Unfortunately, many of us fail in using it properly. It can also be really expensive, so that may lead some people to make decisions based on cost instead of their health because they're put in a difficult position. That's why I've compiled this list of sunblock hacks that will hopefully prevent you from applying it incorrectly and also save you a few dollars at the drug store when you pick it up.
1Apply Before You Hit The Beach
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) suggested getting that sunscreen on your body at least 15 minutes before you even get a hint of sunlight. So before you get into your bikini, lube up. A: it smells good so it's not like you're applying bug spray in your house. B: It's far less embarrassing to coat your body in a layer of cream away from prying eyes lest they see that birthmark on your bum in the shape of Ohio. C: It gives the chemicals time to activate fully and protect your skin.
But don't leave the cream at home if you're planning on being away for hours, you'll need to reapply.
2Use A Timer
Depending upon your level of sunblock, it will need to be reapplied every few hours and more frequently if you're sweating a lot or swimming. Personally, I've noticed that I need more sunscreen the closer to the water I am. It's imperative that you don't forget to reapply before you start to burn. Trust me, I'm peeling right now because I was distracted, and it sucks. Don't be me. There's an app for that. You could also use a traditional interval timer if you're leaving your phone at home. I'm not sure that's a thing people do, but I'm covering my bases.
3Use Those Coupons
Sunscreen is pricey AF. Just this past week I spent an absurd amount of dollars ($55) on different creams for my face, body, and children. Thankfully, companies like Coppertone know that the cost of their product can be a burden, and they issue coupons on their website with some regularity. If you're super sleuthy, you could line up the coupons with in-store sales and coupons and get an even bigger discount. It should be noted that sunscreen is frequently in Target's Cartwheel app, and pretty heavily discounted.
4Look For Sunscreen Stations At The Beach
Many cities like New York have started giving away sunscreen for free at specific locations. I've seen it. It's basic, standard, unscented sunscreen, but it's got plenty of SPF, and a godsend to many beachgoers. Especially to those of us who get distracted and perhaps forget to throw all the necessities in the beach bag because you were too busy figuring out how to hide the rosé.
5Don't Use Combination Sunscreen & Bug Spray
Dr. Jennifer Shu, pediatrician at Children's Medical Group, told CNN, that you should always apply sunscreen first and then the bug spray. However, bug spray can last for hours depending on the DEET concentration, and sunscreen needs to be reapplied every couple of hours. If you're using a combo, you're at risk for DEET toxicity if you're reapplying frequently enough.
6Use Every Drop
OK, tubes of sunscreen are notoriously hard to empty completely. However, I have found that if you snip off the corner of a tube of sunscreen, or cut off the top of a plastic bottle of sunscreen, that you can pretty easily get into the container and get all of it out. There have been times when I've gotten a full application out of a tube that I could not squeeze any more out of.
7Divide & Conquer
This works, I promise. Imagine your body separated into quarters. Start applying the sunscreen in a clockwise direction, first the front, and then the back. It also really helps if you do it in a mirror, and pre-dab the areas before rubbing them in to make sure you have ample, quality coverage. And don't forget the tops of your feet, the part on your scalp, tips of your ears, and in your cleavage.