Have you ever seen Sunshine? The 2007 Danny Boyle movie stars Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, and Hiroyuki Sanada as sexy space scientists sent to reignite our dying sun with nukesand pretty pretty blue eyes, because if the sun dies, it takes us all out with it. Sunshine is one of my favorite movies, but it isn’t perfect. Danny Boyle totally neglects to explore the silver lining of the sun dying, which is that we wouldn’t need sunscreen anymore.
In the real world, unfortunately(?), the sun isn’t dying, so we do need sunscreen if we want to prevent premature aging and reduce our risk of skin cancer. And in the real world, sunscreen, all sunscreen, even my favorite sunscreen, is more or less a giant pain in the ass. That is, unless you use my friend Chel‘s genius trick for getting near-perfect sunscreen application at practically the speed of light!
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First, let’s take a minute tolook at Cillian Murphy again let our very own sexy science friends, Michelle from Lab Muffin and Stephen from Kind of Stephen, remind us why proper sunscreen application is such a pain in the ass. To receive the full protection advertised on a sunscreen label, we need to apply a lot of sunscreen at a time, in a “continuous and even layer.” That is often much harder than it sounds…unless you use a cushion puff.
The dense, flat applicators used to apply cushion makeup turn out to be pretty much perfect for sunscreen application. Cushion puffs generally aren’t as absorbent as other types of makeup sponges, so they won’t suck up all your sunscreen. They’re made to spread product over skin by patting rather than smearing or rubbing, allowing you to achieve more even and uniform coverage. And since you pat rather than smear, if you apply your sunscreen in multiple layers, you can do so without disrupting what you’ve already put on.
There are actual sunscreen cushions on the market, but those aren’t the same. You’d have to go through a couple of them a week to get protection comparable to this method due to the volume of sunscreen used. Save yourself some money and some UV damage and just do it Chel’s way. It’s criminally easy!
1. Dispense enough sunscreen to adequately cover your face, plus a little more to make up for any product absorbed by the cushion puff. The thicker my sunscreen, the less extra I use: just a little dab for thick consistencies, one or two pea-sized dollops of a watery or gel product.
2. Dot the sunscreen onto your forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin. Don’t worry about spreading it out or rubbing it in.
3. Using a clean, dry cushion puff, patpatpat your sunscreen out to distribute it evenly over your face.
4. Let sunscreen dry.
5. If desired, repeat with a second layer of sunscreen all over face or on areas that receive more intense sun exposure, such as cheekbones and the bridge of your nose. Let dry again. The cushion puff method also makes reapplication later in the day much easier and much less problematic for makeup wearers than reapplication with fingers would be. Yet another problem solved!
6. Clean your cushion puff frequently. I wash it about once every other day and air-dry it afterwards.
I’ve found that using a cushion puff to apply my sunscreen cuts a good 5-10 minutes out of my morning routine. It’s practically effortless. And since my skin hasn’t been tanning or freckling, I’m confident that the cushion puff method hasn’t reduced my coverage. Actually, my face has lightened up slightly since I started doing this, making me suspect I’m getting better UV protection than I used to. Those perfectly even and perfectly distributed layers of sunscreen make a difference.
Where can I buy cushion puffs?
Cushion puffs are inexpensive and pretty easy to find these days. I pick up a five-pack of Meme Puffs from Memebox* whenever I’m doing a Memehaul. It looks like there’s a good selection of cushion puffs on Amazon* now, too.
What are your tricks for getting maximum protection from your sunscreens? And have you seen Sunshine?