Most people use sunscreen too sparingly. If you use sunscreen generously and frequently, a bottle of sunscreen shouldn't last long. Generally, a liberal application is 1 ounce (30 milliliters) — the amount in a shot glass — to cover exposed parts of the body. You might need to apply more, depending on your body size. If you have a 4-ounce (118-milliliter) bottle, you'll use about one-fourth of it during one application.
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You can't put on sunscreen in the morning and expect to be protected for a full day in the sun. To maximize sun protection, apply generous amounts of sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before you go outdoors. Reapply sunscreen every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or sweating.
SPF stands for sun protection factor, a measure of how well sunscreen protects against UVB rays. (UVA protection isn't rated.) Manufacturers calculate SPF based on how long it takes to sunburn skin that's been treated with the sunscreen as compared to skin with no sunscreen. Experts recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Sunscreens with SPFs greater than 50 provide only a small increase in UV protection. High-number SPFs last the same amount of time as low-number SPFs.