Sunscreen Tip: The 2-finger guideline to using enough sunscreen

I recently came across a cute little video on Instagram (can’t remember the account, so sorry! It was something that popped up on the Explore page). It was a girl showing just how much skincare product we should be using on our faces.

2 finger sunscreen guideline

I found it relevant, because when she showed how much sunscreen you’re supposed to use, I smiled. It’s about as much product as I use. In fact, it’s a little less than I usually use, but for most people, it would be a better guide than most.

This was such an easy guide, I had to share it with you! 🙂

How much sunscreen is enough?

Did you know that SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of sunscreens are tested by applying 2mg per centimetre square of skin? It’s a lot of product to ensure that your skin is properly protected to the SPF level specified on the bottle.

About 15 years past when I was looking into literature on how much sunscreen to use, I’d come across articles that suggested a whole teaspoon worth of sunscreen for use all over, for sufficient protection.

However, when broken down, the general consensus now is at least 1/4 teaspoon for the face alone. It’s still a lot of product.

But having spoken to many people, I’ve also realised that many people are quite averse to using sunscreen, or if they use sunscreen, are averse to applying enough sunscreen.

Sunscreen can be uncomfortable on skin

The problem with sunscreen is that it’s usually quite thick, and if you have to apply 1/4 teaspoon worth of product each time, it can feel heavy on the skin.

Many sunscreen formula are also a little heavy, and depending on the UV filters or blockers in the ingredients, using a thicker amount can result in a white cast on skin. It’s just not the most comfortable skincare product in our skincare arsenal.

Yet, it’s imperative that we wear sunscreen (and enough sunscreen, at that) to protect our skin, not only from the possibility of skin cancer, but from a vanity standpoint, skin aging.

What is this 2-finger sunscreen guide then?

By way of a general visual guide, experts suggest using 2 finger lengths of sunscreen, measured by squeezing a generous amount of sunscreen on your pointer and middle fingers, from the palm to your fingertips.

Here’s how it looks.

2 finger sunscreen

While there is also a fingertip guideline to applying skincare, do note that when it comes to sunscreen, the guideline is that of a whole finger length, NOT the finger tip. You may read some sources here, here and here.

With the rule of nines, the body’s surface area is divided into 11 areas, each representing roughly 9% of the total (box). Sunscreen can be applied to each of these areas at a dose of 2 mg/cm2 if two strips of sunscreen are squeezed out on to both the index and middle fingers from the palmar crease to the fingertips. The application of this “two fingers” of sunscreen will provide a dose of the product that approximates to that used during the laboratory determination of the sun protection factor. Such a dosage guide is a means of ensuring that users are protected according to their expectations.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information

Do note that when applying sunscreen to your body, eg. arms, you are supposed to use the same amount i.e. 2 fingers for each arm. To make it easier for me, I just squeeze a line of product from my shoulder to wrist, and then rub it in. That is more than 2 fingers worth, but in this case, more is better 😛

Is it a lot of sunscreen to use?

Well, yes and no.

Visually, it looks like a lot. For some people, it feels like a lot on the skin, especially as the amount you squeeze out should be generous.

However, if you’re used to using a lot of sunscreen regularly, or are using a sunscreen that you find comfortable on your skin, it does not feel like very much. This is why it is important that you find a sunscreen that is both comfortable and affordable – you must be generous.

It has been suggested that if you find it too much, apply 1 finger length first, wait a while, then apply the other. It will help feel more comfortable this way.

Personally, in the last few years, my sunscreen application has been very generous. I personally use about 3 fingers worth of sunscreen each time. I shared back then, that I use 1 finger’s length of sunscreen per part of my face.

how much sunscreen to use
I shared this in a blog post about sunscreen back in 2016

For me, this means 1-finger for the right cheek, 1-finger for the left cheek, 1-finger for the forehead, nose and chin. Then, I rub it all in.

For someone like me therefore, the 2-finger guideline for sunscreen is a little less than I normally use, but can be helpful for those who might not otherwise be as generous with use as I am 🙂

The only time I use a little less sunscreen is when I use the Avene Very High Protection Mineral Cream, because it is very thick and it’s tinted. With this, I use approximately 2-fingers worth and take it down to my neck, chest and the back of my neck.

Find a sunscreen you can afford to be generous with

The amount of sunscreen I use each time, and the recommended guidelines of the amount we should be using, is why it’s important for my sunscreen to be affordable. There is no point buying and using a sunscreen that costs an arm and a leg, only to use it sparingly. You are doing your skin a disservice.

Instead, go down to the pharmacy, and try some of the brands available there. Buy them when they go on sale (which is fairly regularly), and always have a back-up, so you are never without.

sunscreen guideline

I personally stick with only 2 brands for now :

  • Avene Very High Protection Mineral Cream for my face anytime when I’m headed outside; and
  • Allie Extra UV Gel and Extra UV Perfect for my arms when I’m out, and for my face when I’m staying indoors.

To those who have been asking me about Shiseido Perfect UV sunscreen, I know I was a huge proponent of the brand and product many years ago. It was the only sunscreen I’d use and it was such a joy to use, and I got many of you hooked on it too. But the price no longer justifies its use to me, and hasn’t, for a few years.

I’m happy to use both Avene and Allie, both available at the pharmacy and at a wallet-friendly enough price that I can afford to be generous with their use, without thinking too much about it. I buy them whenever I see them go on sale, and I always have a tube on standby as a back-up.

Perhaps my preferences will change as I go along, but if I do, I’ll update my blog then 🙂

2 finger sunscreen rule

Do you use the 2-finger sunscreen guideline? Are you using enough sunscreen?

Don’t forget that you need to double-cleanse in the evening to ensure you properly remove your sunscreen. So, even if you don’t wear makeup, there is a case still to be made for double-cleansing 😀

Paris B