Free Shipping For Orders Over $60 Within Australia

  • How Long Does Sunscreen Last And How To Maximise It


Sunscreen is essential for protecting skin from harmful UV rays, but its effectiveness can diminish over time, often within two hours. Maximising protection involves understanding sunscreen types, choosing the right SPF, applying it correctly, and reapplying it based on activity level and exposure. This article provides insights on ensuring lasting protection and making informed choices in sun care.


Sun safety: making sunscreen last

The sun’s rays can be tough on our skin, and it’s a real problem when we’re not sure when our sunscreens will wear off. 

So, what can we do to stay safe? In this article, we’ll talk about why sunscreen is so important, explain SPF in a simple way, discuss the factors affecting sunscreen’s longevity, and give easy tips to make sure you’re protected all day. Read along if you want to enjoy the sun safely and make smart choices.

Understanding SPF

The crucial shield: understanding sunscreen

Sunscreen is a crucial shield that safeguards our skin from the damaging and ageing effects of the sun’s rays.

The importance of using sunscreen cannot be overstated, as it acts as a proactive measure, offering a layer of defence against the immediate and long-term consequences of sun exposure, including inflammation, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. 

Incorporating a reliable sunscreen into your daily skincare regimen is imperative for maintaining skin health and vitality, regardless of the season, weather, or skin type.

However, not all sunscreens are created equal. That’s why it’s important to choose a sunscreen that meets your needs. 

Varied protectors: physical vs. chemical sunscreen

Here are the two types of sunscreens:

  • Physical sunscreen: It’s also known as mineral sunscreen. It includes active mineral ingredients such as zinc oxide, which is commonly found in natural sunscreens like reef-safe sunscreen, clear zinc sunscreen, or natural tinted sunscreen. Physical sunscreen sits on top of the skin and reflects the sun's rays away from the skin. It’s typically deemed more suitable for sensitive skin and has the advantage of a longer shelf life.
  • Chemical sunscreen: This type contains compounds that absorb the sun's rays, converting them into heat that is then released from the skin. However, it may contain ingredients that may harm the skin.


Deciphering sunscreen longevity

Some studies suggest that the efficacy of sunscreen can decrease within just two hours, whether you are basking in the sun or simply staying indoors. To help you know your sunscreen better, here are the two main factors that affect it’s longevity:

Understanding SPF

The Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, serves as a metric for understanding the level of protection offered by sunscreen against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. The numerical value represents the amount of time one can spend in the sun with the sunscreen applied relative to the amount of time without it before incurring sunburn.

For example, if someone’s skin burns in ten minutes without sunscreen and that person uses a product with SPF 30, theoretically, they are protected thirty times longer, which would be 300 minutes.

For SPF 50, following the same logic: if a person’s skin burns after ten minutes without protection, applying sunscreen with SPF 50 should theoretically protect them for 500 minutes.

However, real-world conditions can reduce this time considerably, necessitating re-application every two hours.

Personal activity: the invisible factor

Personal activity is another factor that affects sunscreen longevity. 

When you are indulging in physical activities like swimming or working out, the protection sunscreen offers may diminish faster due to sweating and rubbing. This scenario calls for being mindful of your activities and adjusting your re-application schedule accordingly to ensure consistent protection.


Maximising sunscreen effectiveness

Want to know how to enjoy your sunscreen to its fullest? Here are some tips:

Mastery in application

Choosing the right sunscreen is pivotal, but mastering the application technique is equally critical.

To envelop your skin in effective protection, ensure that the sunscreen is applied generously and evenly, covering all exposed areas, especially those often overlooked, like the back of the knees and ears. 

It’s crucial to apply sunscreen twenty minutes before exposure to the sun, allowing it to fully bind to the skin. Don’t forget to reapply every two hours or more often if swimming or sweating.

Choosing a Sunscreen Aligned with Your Lifestyle

Incorporating sunscreen into your daily routine involves selecting a type that resonates with your lifestyle and skin needs. For those leading active outdoor lifestyles, water-resistant formulas may be a good option. On the other hand, individuals with sensitive skin may opt for natural sunscreens made from skin-safe ingredients.



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: How do you properly store sunscreen?

Sunscreen needs a haven away from the wrath of direct sunlight and elevated temperatures. A cool, dry place is an ideal storage point, ensuring the efficacy and longevity of the protective ingredients inside the bottle. Remember not to leave your sunscreen in a hot car or in direct sunlight.

Q2: Is it mandatory to purchase a new bottle of sunscreen for every beach outing?

No. Sunscreens are meticulously formulated to retain their original strength and sun-shielding properties for up to three years, allowing you to enjoy the beach with steadfast protection. However, vigilance in inspecting the expiration date is still crucial.

Q3: Does water-resistant sunscreen present a sticky dilemma?

Not necessarily. You can find water-resistant sunscreens that offer a smooth, clear, and non-greasy application. This ensures that everyone can find a formulation that aligns with their skin’s preferences and comfort levels.


Key Points to Remember

Understanding the longevity and effectiveness of your sunscreen is crucial in ensuring optimal skin protection. Whether you are a beach lover or an outdoor enthusiast, equipping yourself with the right knowledge helps you make informed and sustainable choices. Here’s what you need to remember:

  • Sunscreen is essential: It acts as a protective barrier against harmful UV rays, guarding against sunburn and premature ageing.
  • Know your sunscreen: Understanding the difference between physical and chemical sunscreens allows for a personalised approach to sun protection, catering to individual skin types and preferences.
  • Proper application is crucial: Mastering the right application technique ensures maximum protection. It’s essential to reapply every two hours or more frequently based on activities.
  • Check the bottle: Being vigilant about the expiration date is vital. Using sunscreen after its expiration can compromise protection levels.


A SunSmart wrap-up

Protecting our skin from the harmful effects of the sun is more than just slathering on sunscreen. 

It’s about making informed choices about the types of sunscreen we use and integrating protective measures into our lifestyles. The proper application, reapplication, and incorporation of protective wear are crucial components of sun safety. It’s our responsibility to protect our skin while enjoying the benefits of the sun.


Little Urchin is all about purity and natural essence when it comes to suncare and skincare. We are an Australian company specialising in products that have broad-spectrum, reef-safe, and cruelty-free ingredients, teeming with antioxidants and organic richness. Our mission is to offer unparalleled protection and nourishment for your skin while being a steadfast advocate for environmental consciousness and ethical sourcing.