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How often should you reapply sunscreen indoors + outdoors?

Using sunscreen repeatedly throughout the day is one of the best ways to keep your skin healthy and beautiful. Who doesn’t want smooth skin with a natural glow?

While many of us know the importance of reapplying sunscreen periodically during the day, it can be hard to stick to in practice. What you need is a simple, practical guide to make things easier. Voila! These helpful skin care tips will make reapplying second nature.

Let’s start with a common question: How often should you reapply sunscreen?

How often should you reapply sunscreen?

There’s one thing most skin care experts agree on, and that’s when to reapply sunscreen. Typically, you’ll want to put on a fresh layer every two hours. This helps keep your skin protected against ultraviolet rays, whether you’re gardening or jogging.

In the water

Water-sport enthusiasts should reapply even more frequently. If you’re planning on swimming, water skiing, wakeboarding, or getting wet in other ways, reapply sunscreen as soon as you get out of the water (or every two hours, whichever comes first). Remember, NO sunscreen is completely waterproof; you need extra coverage to compensate.

For high-energy sports

Excess sweat weakens sunscreen’s efficacy. If you towel off while exercising, you're actually stripping away the protective layer. Whether you’re playing a friendly tennis match, speed walking in the park, or doing some high-intensity exercise, reapply at least every two hours—though every 30 minutes is ideal.

When indoors

How often should you reapply sunscreen inside an office building? It depends on your surroundings.

If you spend your time far away from direct sunlight, such as in an R&D lab, you may get away with refreshing your sunscreen less frequently. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, you can go four to six hours before reapplying.

Things are different for people who work indoors in places with lots of sun. For example, if you’re working in an office building with wide windows, you’re probably getting more UV exposure than you think. In such cases, you should follow the standard recommendations and put on more sunscreen every couple of hours. "A good rule of thumb: If your desk faces a window, keep a bottle of sunscreen on your desk.

In your car

Few things are more exciting than road trips, but make sure you pack your sunscreen along with your driving shades. You may not realize it, but most cars’ side windows don’t protect against UV rays.

Both drivers and passengers receive direct sunlight on the highway, so everyone on board needs good sun protection. So, how often should you reapply sunscreen while in the car? Every two hours is recommended.

Why is sun care essential for dewy skin?

It’s easier to remember to protect your skin if you know why you’re doing it. Following a simple sun care routine can help you in at least five ways.

Reducing the risk of skin cancer

This is a big one. Sunscreen can have a major impact on the risk of developing skin cancer. Fewer reasons to worry about your health? We’ll take it!

Preventing wrinkles

UV rays are harsh on your skin, making it less firm and elastic. This could lead to wrinkles. In other words, sun care = skin care.

Avoiding sun spots

Sun spots, also known as liver spots or age spots, are darkened patches of skin that typically show up around age 40. Sun exposure is a primary cause, but sunscreen can absolutely help prevent them.

Keeping skin hydrated

UV rays can reach deep into the skin and rob it of moisture. Sunlight is one of the biggest causes of dry, rough, or irritated skin. It’s why your skin needs so much TLC at night. Sun protection can go a long way toward keeping those baby-soft hands looking stunning.

Many types of sunscreens create something like a shield over your skin.  You can also choose sun protection creams that contain additional ingredients for moisturizing, such as hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, or vitamin E.

Making skin softer

Moisturizers, UV protection, and nourishing ingredients are a recipe for soft, smooth skin. When your friends ask why your skin looks so bright and fresh, you can decide whether to tell them your secret or just smile.

When do you need sun protection the most?

Everyone needs sun care, and they need it every day.

We’ve put together a list of everyday scenarios in which people should wear sunscreen but often don’t. Discovering how often you should reapply sunscreen in some of these situations may surprise you, but it's important to keep your skin healthy, radiant and protected. 

Relaxing at the beach

Let’s start with the basics: Any time you or your loved ones are in direct sunlight outdoors (like at the beach), sunscreen is an absolute necessity.

Treat your skin to ample coverage, protecting all exposed skin, not just the top of your forearms or easy-to-reach spots on your legs.

To make life easier, remember to bring the shade. Lounging underneath a beach umbrella lets you enjoy the feel of sand beneath your toes without getting a sunburn.

Don’t fall for common myths, such as thinking that cold water keeps your skin from getting damaged by sunlight. The ocean may feel refreshing, but in reality, water amplifies the effects of UV rays.

Swimming unprotected can cause more sun damage, not less.

Running errands

Do you need sunscreen for quick trips outdoors, such as running errands or walking the dog? Dermatologists say yes. Sun damage adds up. Frequent but small bursts of UV rays are also damaging to the skin.

Five minutes walking around in bare sunlight may not seem like a big deal. Multiply that by 365 days, however, and your perspective may change. In a year, you’d be exposing your skin to 1,825 minutes without protection — that’s equivalent to 30 hours in the sun.

Spending time on your patio

How often should you reapply sunscreen while at home? From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., protecting against UV rays is vital, even if you’re just relaxing on your chaise with a good book.

We should emphasize again that sun care isn’t always simply about putting on sunscreen—though it’s one of the best things you can do for your skin. Shade trees, covered pergolas, and patio umbrellas are excellent ways to supplement your sun protection.  Another option is to wear sun-protective clothing that covers your skin.

Going out on cloudy days

It’s a myth that you don’t need to protect your skin when it’s dark, rainy, or cloudy.

In reality, UVA radiation goes through clouds and reflects off surfaces, so gray weather can cause just as many problems for your skin. Moreover, there’s no shade for cover on overcast days.

Regardless of how cloudy it is, never leave house without some form of sun protection. When you have sunscreen that you absolutely love applying, it’s easy to invest a few minutes in sun care every day. 

Working in your office

When you wonder how often you should reapply sunscreen, you probably aren’t thinking about your office. Unfortunately, solar rays can penetrate most types of glass easily. If your office has windows, you need to come prepared.

The good news is that there are ways to reduce UV rays indoors, including simply closing office curtains or blinds during peak hours of sun. Some modern windows have reflective coatings for energy efficiency and UV protection.

These solutions can also help with productivity by reducing screen glare, a win-win! If you have a home office with the sun blazing in during the day, invest in some good curtains or solar shades, and stay cool while you work.

Why is wearing sunscreen so hard to remember?

When you don’t enjoy something, it’s easy to “forget” to do it (did you know fewer than 20% of women use sunscreen every day?).

This is because many sunscreens are messy, greasy and simply don’t feel good on the skin. If you want to make sun care part of your routine, it needs to feel and look great. (That’s why we started Clair Obscur!)

How can you make sun care enjoyable?

For you to feel good about sun protection, it should adapt to your lifestyle, not vice-versa. You should feel like you’re getting major benefits with minimal time investment.

The good news is that there are several fantastic ways to do exactly that.

Stay protected and look stylish

Update your wardrobe with UPF-rated clothes that offer sun protection:

  • Long-sleeve blouses
  • Sunglasses
  • Wide-brimmed hats
  • Pants with tight-weave fabrics
  • Gloves
  • Scarves

Show off the clothes you love while maximizing sun care. Stay true to your style. Opt for wide-brimmed hats that are endlessly chic instead of endlessly floppy. Select sunglasses that complement your face’s natural shape and have great UV ratings.

Stand out with long-sleeved tops that feature bold colors, luxurious softness, or trendy patterns. You can absolutely keep skin protected and look amazing at the same time.

Upgrade to better creams

Step one: Throw out all of your old sunscreens. Get rid of those huge bottles that make you smell like you showered in coconut oil. Toss any greasy or separated products.

Next, select a few beauty-first sun care creams for your vanity. These creams combine the nourishing ingredients of skin care products with the protection of next-gen sunscreen. You get the best of both worlds.

Sunscreen creams mean you don’t have to play any guessing games. Your facial sunscreen and makeup work together perfectly.

Make sun care a natural part of your morning routine

When you choose high-quality sunscreen, applying it doesn’t take more than a minute. It should feel light, sheer and  sink into skin immediately.

Choose products that are easy to reapply

Reapplying traditional sunscreen can be messy, especially if you’re wearing makeup.

One of our missions at Clair Obscur is to provide a complete hands-free application that fits sleekly in your purse. Our patent-pending applicator will let you reapply sun protection effortlessly. 

How often should you reapply sunscreen for your skin type?

Sun care is even better when it’s personalized. You feel comfortable when the products you choose are specifically designed for your skin type. Some ingredients are helpful for sensitive skin and others are lightweight for naturally oily skin.

At Clair Obscur, we prioritize customized sun care because we understand that everyone’s needs are different. How often should you reapply sunscreen? What type of sunscreen is best for your needs? Look for products that are well-suited to your skin type and tone, and enjoy your time in the sun (or shade!).