When incorporating sunscreen into their daily routine, many people find themselves asking, "How can I make my sunscreen last longer?" It's a fair question—especially when trying to make the most of both your skin and sun care practices.

There are a few tricks to learning how to make sunscreen last longer so you're not constantly reapplying. That said, it's still vital that you reapply sunscreen often—approximately every two hours—for the best protection against the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

While it won't last all day, here are some small ways to make sunscreen last a bit longer.

Opt for Water-Resistant Formulas

One way to make sunscreen last longer is to go for products labeled as water-resistant. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, sunscreens that claim to be water-resistant can be effective for up to 80 minutes. This means that your skin will be protected during that time while you swim or if you happen to sweat a lot.

Just be sure to keep your eye on the clock. Once time is up, you'll want to reapply to ensure you're protected.

Use SPF 30 or Higher

The term "SPF" stands for sun protection factor. The Skin Cancer Foundation explains that the number following SPF on the label indicates how long the sun's UVB rays would take to redden your skin compared to your skin not having any sun protection. That means if you use sunscreen with SPF 30, it will take 30 times longer for your skin to redden than if you used no sunscreen at all.

While some makeup and moisturizers may contain a lower SPF, if you're trying to extend your sunscreen protection, go for a product with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Find Your Favorite and Stick With It

If you struggle to find a comfortable, reliable sunscreen, you might need to try a new formula. There are two types of sunscreen: chemical and physical (a.k.a. mineral). Chemical sunscreen absorbs UV radiation before it damages your skin, using ingredients like avobenzone and octisalate. Physical sunscreen blocks and scatters UV rays before they penetrate your skin. Physical sunscreen contains ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are less likely to cause skin irritation.

Harvard Medical School reports there is no conclusive evidence that one sunscreen is more harmful to your health than the other, and both types of sunscreen have the same level of efficacy. (Though certain chemical sunscreens bleach coral reefs and harm marine life if you wear them in the ocean.)

In the end, the best sunscreen for you is one you can commit to wearing every day. Pick a product with sunscreen properties you like and that's easy to carry and reapply, like a trial-size bottle stashed in your bag or a mess-free stick.

Follow Sunscreen Best Practices

While there are ways to make sunscreen last a little bit longer, it's still important to follow best sunscreen practices to protect your skin from the sun's harmful UV rays. This includes making sure sunscreen is SPF 30 at the very least, offers broad-spectrum protection, and can be applied every day on any part of your body that will be exposed to sunlight. You'll want to reapply sunscreen when swimming and exercising, when outside for long periods (even on overcast days), and even when in transit between outdoor activities.

Remember: Making your sunscreen last longer doesn't mean you can skip reapplication. Rather, it simply helps extend your protection; a few precious minutes could make all the difference. The next time you're thinking about how to make sunscreen last longer, you'll know to grab a water-resistant, broad-spectrum, easy-to-apply SPF 30 product and head out to enjoy the day.


  • Audrey Noble

    Audrey Noble is a New York City-based reporter specializing in features, celebrity profiles, and beauty topics. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Harper's BAZAAR, Allure, Vanity Fair, Refinery29, and more. She is a University of Southern California alumna with bachelor's degrees in print journalism and creative writing.

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