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Sunscreen is a year-round essential, but it isn’t like your daily moisturizer that you can simply put on in the morning and forget about. According to guidelines from the FDA, you need to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. No, this isn’t a marketing ploy to make you hoard sunscreen — there’s real science behind it. 


So let’s answer some of your burning SPF questions. Why do you need to reapply sunscreen? What if you haven’t been under the sun much anyway? Can sunscreen rub off? 


Keep reading. 

Sun exposure breaks down sunscreen

Regardless if you use physical or chemical SPF, exposure to direct light will naturally break down sunscreen throughout the day. Because once you slather SPF on your skin, and your skin gets exposed to sun, the active ingredients that provide protection against harsh UV rays will start to break down as they do their job. 

Sunscreen can rub off

The ideal sunscreen should be invisible and doesn’t leave a trace of white cast, like our Resting Beach Face SPF30 Sunscreen Serum and Oh My Bod! SPF50 Sunscreen Lotion. However, this can make it tricky to tell if your sunscreen is still there after a few hours. 


If you need a more visual comparison, think of foundation. You can see it on skin as you apply it, but what happens to your make-up after a couple of hours? It’s not as even or flawless as the first application, and you’ve probably transferred some of it to your face mask, fingers, and more. The same goes for sunscreen! 


Though you might not touch your face that often, the sunscreen on your body can also rub off — on the chairs you sit on, the clothes you wear, and more. So even if you’ve been indoors mostly and the sun hasn’t fully broken down your SPF, general life things can make formula come off and leave you vulnerable to sun damage. 

Sweat can break down sunscreen too

Just like showering or swimming, sweat can wash away sunscreen and eliminate its effects. How? Well, physical or mineral sunscreen simply sits on top of the skin and blocks UVA or UVB rays from penetrating skin. Since the formula doesn’t get absorbed by skin, it’s easier for it to be removed. 


On the other hand, chemical sunscreens do get absorbed by the skin and neutralize UV rays, preventing them from wreaking havoc. Nonetheless, external factors like sweat and water can still deactivate chemical sunscreen’s protection over time. 


Of course, if you’re out playing sports, anticipate a sweat fest at a concert, or are planning a beach day, your best bet is to use a water-resistant and sweat-resistant sunscreen. However, even the most effective sport SPF like Oh My Bod! can only resist sweat and water for up to 80 minutes. There’s no existing technology in the world that can provide 100%, 24/7 protection.

The bottomline: reapply sunscreen!

No way around it, reapplying sunscreen is key to ensuring you’re completely safe from the sun. Sound like a chore? You’ll be happy to know that modern sunscreen formulas are more lightweight and absorb in seconds, making it easy to reapply even if you’re on the go. If you need to reapply sunscreen over make-up, you can always use a beauty sponge and dab lightly without messing with your contour. 


For more tips on how to maximize your SPF, check out our post on how to apply sunscreen the right way.

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