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I Tried A TikTok Viral Sunscreen Hack — & Now I Apply The Proper Amount

Photo Courtesy of Jacqueline Kilikita.
Welcome to Beauty In A Tik, where each week we put TikTok's viral beauty hacks and innovative trends to the test.
As we go full speed ahead into summer, TikTok's beauty enthusiasts are moving away from full-coverage everything. Handy concealer tricks are replacing the need for all-over foundation, and DIY bronzing drops mean you can skip makeup like bronzer and highlighter. But one thing that they're simply not willing to skimp on is sunscreen.
One of this week's most viral TikTok beauty hacks is sunscreen layering, courtesy of skin and hair content creator Abbey Yung, whose video has amassed an impressive 1.1 million views and counting. "Most people don't actually apply that much sunscreen," Yung explains, completely correctly. Not long ago, London-based consultant dermatologist Dr. Emma Wedgeworth told me that experts generally advise a teaspoonful of sunscreen for the face and neck but you'd be forgiven for not using a measuring cup. That's where this layering technique comes in.
@abbeyyung Not taking any risks when it comes to sun protection! #sunscreen #sunscreentips #spf ♬ original sound - Abbey Yung

What is sunscreen layering?

"Here's what I like to do instead," says Yung. "I apply my sunscreen in layers. First I start off with one layer of sunscreen, making sure to evenly cover my entire face. Then, after I let that sunscreen absorb for a few minutes, I'll go ahead and apply a second layer on top of that first one." This helps to prevent the sunscreen from pilling, says Yung (which is when the product rolls off your skin in little pieces), and being really difficult to blend into your skin. "If you're using a really nice, lightweight sunscreen, then it won't feel like too much at all," says Yung.
It's safe to say I was intrigued by sunscreen layering. Some SPFs can take an age to absorb or leave behind a white cast, giving darker skin in particular a grey or purple tinge. Others collect in fine lines or the hairs on the face, and bunch up into little balls of product that disturb makeup. Could going in with an initial light layer of sunscreen prevent this from happening? Before I attempted it, I checked in with esthetician and sunscreen-obsessive Alicia Lartey, and it turns out there's method to it.

Is sunscreen layering good for my skin?

"I completely agree with this," Lartey tells me. "I think it’s a great technique especially for those who have issues with pilling, or if you're trying a new sunscreen for the first time and have no idea what the outcome will be." Lartey practices sunscreen layering herself. "I apply my sunscreen in stages, consisting of around three layers because I like to use a lot of sunscreen. When applying each layer, I make sure it’s evenly distributed on my face. Each time, I find that the sunscreen just sinks in and the white cast disappears."

My experience with sunscreen layering

Regardless of the brand or formulation, sunscreen takes a little while to sink into the skin. I'm currently using L'Oréal Revitalift Clinical SPF 50+ Invisible Fluid, a broad-spectrum sunscreen which protects against UVA rays (responsible for premature aging and skin cancer) and UVB rays (which cause sunburn). It also boasts hydrating hyaluronic acid, moisturizing glycerin, and antioxidant vitamin C to shield skin against dulling pollution. As a baseline, I began with a very light layer (much less than I would usually apply), which absorbed in a matter of seconds.
Lately I've seen lots of dermatologists extolling the virtues of the two-finger application method to make sure you're getting enough product. Simply squeeze sunscreen onto the full length of your index and middle finger, then apply this directly to the face and blend in. This is what I did for the second additional layer and, unlike usual, I wasn't there for ages rubbing it all in. It's as if the first layer acts as a primer, encouraging the second layer to melt seamlessly into the skin. Doing this means that I can skip my toner, serum, and moisturizer steps. The two sunscreen layers are more than enough to adequately hydrate and protect my skin throughout the day.
@refinery29 We’re obsessed with this protective sunscreen trick! #sunscreenlayering #beautyinatik #sunscreentips ♬ Neon Bass - Tangelene Bolton
I know what you're thinking. A double or even triple sunscreen application? In this economy? But sunscreen doesn't have to cost a fortune to protect your skin properly, and some of my favorites are under $10. There's Bondi Sands Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ For Face, $6.99, as it's lightweight, fragrance-free, and doesn't leave behind a white cast. Then there's Cetaphil Sheer 100% Mineral Liquid Sunscreen, $9, which is also unscented and SPF 50.
The expert consensus is clear, though: If you don't want to layer up, one application of sunscreen is better than nothing at all.
This story was originally published on Refinery29UK.
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