Reapplication Improves the Amount of Sunscreen, not its Regularity, Under Real Life Conditions


  • Study conducted at the Photomedicine Laboratory, Research Center, Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre, Brazil

Corresponding author email: Damiê De Villa (Damiê De Villa)


The sun protection factor (SPF) of sunscreens is determined using samples applied with a thickness of 2 mg cm−2. Sunscreen users, however, typically apply sunscreen nonuniformly and in smaller amounts. The objective of our study was to verify whether sunscreen reapplication increases the amount and regularity of the product on the skin. Volunteers were asked to apply an SPF 6 sunscreen on their forearms and reapply it 30 min later on one forearm. Tape-strips were used to collect five samples from two different sites on each forearm. The concentration of benzophenone-3 in the samples was measured and the total amount of sunscreen was estimated using high-performance liquid chromatography. The median amount of sunscreen film was 0.43 mg cm−2 (0.17–1.07) after one application and 0.95 mg cm−2 (0.18–1.91) after two applications (P = 0.002). No significant difference was found in the film uniformity. Though sunscreen reapplication increases the amount of product on the skin, levels are still lower than the recommended amount, confirming that the protection level is less than the product-stated SPF. Our results are the first in the literature to support the recommendation for reapplying sunscreens. Based on our results, we recommend that sunscreens be labeled using qualitative measures.