How to apply sunscreen properly (and know when it’s expired)

We all know about the importance of sunscreen – the best anti-ageing skincare one can invest in – but equally as important in keeping your skin protected against the sun’s UV rays is the application process.

We’re breaking down how best to apply sunscreen, including exactly how much you should be applying (spoiler alert: it’s more than you think) as well as how to know when your SPF has expired. Here are all your questions answered.


This may seem like a no-brainer, but the most important part of sun protection is doing it right. First, make sure you apply your SPF 20 minutes before going outside or exposing yourself to the sun – this provides enough time for the sunscreen to bind to your skin to be able to start working its protective magic.

The other important step? Reapplication! You should be reapplying your sunscreen every two hours as well as after swimming, sweating or towelling off. If you’re worried about ruining your makeup, don’t fret – the clever cats at Naked Sundays created the SPF50+ Hydrating Glow Mist, so you can generously spray your face (seven spritzes, to be precise) and reap the benefits of sun protection and your perfect base.

READ MORE: The easiest way to reapply sunscreen without ruining your makeup

Finally, whilst you can of course use fingers to apply your SPF, if you’ve got a thicker sunscreen on hand – like a mineral-based SPF – you may prefer to blend with a flat-top SPF brush. It helps to blend out the sunscreen around the face to ensure an even application, every time.


Let’s start with an SPF mantra. Repeat after us: more is more. While you may think a pea-size amount suffices, the reality is that most people don’t apply enough sunscreen. Therefore, it should be applied generously to keep you protected from the harmful effects of the sun.

According to expert Dr Van Park, a good rule of thumb is to use at least one teaspoon of sunscreen per body part; the face (including the neck and ears!) constitutes one body part. As for the rest? The same rule applies – one teaspoon for each arm and leg, and then for each of the front and back of your body.

READ MORE: Do you really need to wear SPF in winter?


After! It’s best to apply sunscreen as the final step in your skincare routine, after cleansing and applying your skincare (serum and moisturiser).

If you’re worried about how your makeup will sit on top – don’t be. Mecca Cosmetica’s To Save Face SPF50+ Superscreen Oxybenzone Free Formula was designed with makeup wearers in mind, with its non-greasy, lightweight formula that feels almost undetectable on the skin. And, for top ups later in the day without ruining your makeup, opt for an SPF spray.


A good starting point is the bottle itself – the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) requires all sunscreens sold in Australia to have the expiration date on the bottle. That aside, storage matters too! You should always keep your SPF in a cool, dry place – that is, below 30C and out of direct sunlight. We always recommend taking your SPF with you if you’re going to be outdoors (say, at the beach or by the pool), so if you do, try and keep it in the shade or in a cooler bag.

If you notice your sunscreen start to change in consistency (look out for changes in texture, such as clumping) or smell a little funky, it’s likely that it has expired. Get yourself a brand-new bottle, stat!

Always remember: follow directions for use. Reapply as directed. Avoid prolonged sun exposure. SPF is only one form of sun protection – use in conjunction with protective clothing, hat and eyewear.

From lightweight, non-greasy formulas for face and body to different options for every skin type, shop the MECCA range of face & body SPFs (and have all your bases covered!). Shop them here.


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