A Shot of Sunscreen A Day Keeps the Doctor Away


SHOTS, SHOTS, SHOTS! I’m not talking about the alcoholic kind, the kind that fire from guns, or the act of taking a picture. I’m talking about the one recommendation from the dermatology community that we all ignore. Who reading this can say they’ve ever applied a shot glass full of sunscreen before? I know you think you’ve put on that much before, but I’m here to tell you it’s not possible unless you measured it out. I had no idea how much sunscreen I would have to be applying onto the surface of my body to use up 1 ounce of sunscreen.

Here’s a peak into what I was thinking as I went through this process.

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By gosh! What a beautiful day to spend outside by the pool!

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The bottle of sunscreen just happened to fall artistically onto the towel like that, I promise. It took me quite a few squirts and squeezing the bottle to get out enough to fill the shot glass.

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1 ounce of Neutrogena sunscreen bottle = 1 ounce of No-Ad that I just poured into a shot glass. You can see that it looks like more in the glass.

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Let’s get started. My legs should use up most of this right?

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How do I still have 1/4 of this left??? I’ve reapplied to all areas of my body at least twice at this point. I am feeling defeated. I almost give up….but something makes me persist in my quest. That something is the thought of writing this blog post. I WILL SUCCEED.

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Victory is mine. It is sweet and well-deserved.

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I break out into a smile. Some people nearby stare while I take selfies.

What gave you the idea to apply a shotglass of sunscreen on your body?

I think we’ve all heard this at one point or another, but the correct amount of sunscreen to apply to a person that will achieve the adequate SPF claimed on the label is supposedly 1 ounce or one shotglass. I wanted to see it with my own eyes and experience it with my own hands. I thought it would be easy. As you can see, it was rather difficult.

What does a shot glass of sunscreen even feel like?

It’s slimy to say the least. You might have the most matte, absorbable sunscreen on the planet, and 1 ounce will still feel a little greasy. I found it very easy to slide my arms along the sides of my body without any friction.

So what’s my opinion?

Based on the AAD’s expert stance that a shot glass full is the necessary amount to cover sun-exposed areas of the body (I wonder if they took into account the size of the average bikini in Miami when making that calculation), I think this is a lofty and noble goal for anyone. (1) If you want to try and hit a shot glass full every time, please do! I, however, do not find this to be sustainable and is likely to turn people off. Doctors can make all the recommendations they want, but if people aren’t following through with them then it’s not helpful. A better recommendation is that you apply the amount you think you need to cover all sun exposed areas. Then apply to those areas again. You will probably still be using less than a full ounce, but you’ll be doubling the amount you usually apply. Also keep in mind that the surface area of a full-grown man is less than that of an average sized woman. Conversely, a larger person has more skin to protect and keep out of the sun (even though obesity has been shown to be inversely related to developing basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers). (2)

Pros:

  • You are fully protected against the element of the sun for the next 2 hours.
  • You’re preventing all forms of skin cancer and sun-induced aging.

Cons:

  • Your skin becomes quite greasy. This may be different depending on which brand of sunscreen you’re using.
  • You have to reapply another shot glass full in 2 hours.
  • Sunscreen is expensive.
  • You’re unlikely to keep this up.

Have you ever tried the sunscreen shot glass experiment? How did it go?

References:

  1. https://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs
  2. Pothiawala, Salma, et al. “Obesity and the incidence of skin cancer in US Caucasians.” Cancer causes & control5 (2012): 717-726.