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Makeup-Related Posts, Sun Protection in Detail

Everyone NEEDS to buy a 1/4 measuring teaspoon!

I know I just published the Publishing Schedule article like… less than a day ago.

Oh well. Okay, completely impromptu post time!

So… after writing the How Much Exactly Is 2.0 mg/cm^2—The Amount of Sunscreen Necessary to Achieve the Labeled SPF Rating? post, one of the readers suggested that I tell people to buy a 1/4 teaspoon just to see if they’re using enough sunscreen. Well, I’d never recommend something to you guys that I wasn’t willing to try myself. Therefore, I went out and bought a pretty stainless steel 1/4 measuring spoon (ooh shiny!).

It arrived today.


Uh.... yeah. What a BABY!

Uh…. yeah. What a BABY!

I completely expected to see this giant spoon and sigh in regret, realizing that I applied way too little sunscreen in the past. But NOPE. This thing is TINY! I mean, it’s good and all that I’ve been applying at least 2.0 mg/cm^2 in the past. But seriously?! How can people NOT use enough sunscreen?! Several large-scale surveys and studies (I’m too lazy and busy to find them) have demonstrated that most sunscreen users only apply 0.5-1.0 mg/cm^2; basically one-quarter to one-half the amount of that TINY object… HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?! At those amount, there wouldn’t even be enough sunscreen to evenly spread across the face!

How can you only use a quarter or even half of that?! "Don't you know that I'll SLAP you down?!"

How can you only use a quarter or even half of that?! “Don’t you know that I’ll SLAP you down?!”


It's the size of a letter on a keyboard. Let's go soldiers! Let's make sure EVERYONE uses enough!

It’s the size of a letter on a keyboard. Let’s go soldiers!! Let’s make sure EVERYONE uses enough sunscreen!

Okay that’s it. I hope you enjoyed all the adolescent punctuation marks. My recommendations to you, is to definitely buy a 1/4 measuring teaspoon! I hope it’s as shocking of an experience as it was for me, and hopefully in a good way! And please tell all your friends and family members to buy a 1/4 measuring teaspoon, too!

Kthnxbye. 😉

About John

The Triple Helixian is an unbiased science and research-based site that attempts to clarify and elucidate questions about skin care, while aspiring to be the most thorough and complete source of information.


40 thoughts on “Everyone NEEDS to buy a 1/4 measuring teaspoon!

  1. Sorry but that’s a table spoon not a teaspoon. Quarter tea spoon would be o.25 that is 1.25

    Posted by John | September 11, 2014, 7:25 pm
  2. Where can I buy a quarter teaspoon from?

    Posted by bitterking | June 29, 2014, 4:59 am
  3. I recently bought a 1/4 measuring tsp for this. Omg, it’s way more than I ever use. I typically use 2pumps or maybe even 3 pumps of cerave am lotion with spf. That right there is already a lot. It takes 6 complete pumps to fill the measuring spoon. I have a big head with a big face and it took some time to rub all of this into my face and not be coated in white. Well im glad to know that Im not using enough. Im going to up the amount I use for now on.

    Posted by dany06 | December 24, 2013, 4:18 pm
  4. I definitely use more than 1/4 teaspoon on just my face. Than I use another dollop for my throat and visible chest area. I also have combination skin that just seems to get super oily/sweaty when the weather get’s too humid. (I’m extremely sensitive to humidity.) I find that for me, letting the sunscreen “set” on my face, as in don’t apply any other products on my face for a good 15 minutes, does the trick.
    However – I was wondering if you could possibly write about melanin and sun exposure and the minimum required time to be exposed to the sun for Vit D. As a darker skinned individual, I am very grateful for my all natural “sunscreen” but I’m constantly worried that I need to supplement and get more Vit D and I wonder if I need to purchase such high SPF products or if I could get away with a lower concentration of mineral/chemical sunscreen chemicals.
    Also – if any sunscreens are mentioned, I’m sure the darker skinned readers would appreciate knowing if the product will give a “caspar” effect. Trying to find a cheap mineral based sunscreen is the bane of my life. I dislike the whitish cast and I hate wearing foundation (to mix in to subdue the effect).

    Posted by jh | August 9, 2013, 6:59 pm
    • That’s great to hear! I also find that waiting an (obscenely) long amount of time, considering how little time is available to get ready in the morning haha, really does do the trick when it comes to using so much sunscreen. Good work!

      I will definitely be writing about the whole vitamin D debate. But the gist of it is that you can easily get your vitamin D from your nutritional intake. And since vitamin D is most common is fish–something that you should be eating anyways for their healthy protein and oil content, it isn’t difficult to get your daily vitamin D. It’s a much better way of getting it, rather than staying in the sun. But since you asked, most studies show that being exposed to about 10-15 minutes of unprotected sun at noontime is enough to trigger adequate levels of vitamin D synthesis in the skin. But I still don’t recommend doing that.

      Also, I will be indicating which inorganic sunscreens have/do not have a white cast, depending on whether or not I’ve actually tried said products. So no worries!

      Posted by John | August 12, 2013, 8:40 am
  5. I had to switch to Feedly since Reader is gone and I’m not up to date on any blog. But omg that is so tiny! Your blog made me realize I was using some sunscreens with avobenzone and octin-something. At least I was applying about 3 times more than I needed!

    Posted by amy | July 28, 2013, 5:51 pm
    • Whoa! Are you sure you’re applying 3/4 of a teaspoon to your face?! Because I can’t even imagine doing that. Are you using a 1/4 measuring teaspoon, because the actual tool is deceptively small. The amount of sunscreen is still quite generous.

      As for using Feedly, have you considered switching to bloglovin’? While I haven’t used it myself, I’ve heard good things about it. In fact, I apparently had around 20 followers using it before I even knew about it. LOL!

      Anyways, maybe a month ago, I linked the bloglovin’ profile page for the Triple Helixian to the “Subscribe” button on the top-right side of the homepage. Here’s the link in case you’re interested: http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/4709985/the-triple-helixian

      Glad to see you comment. It’s been a while!

      Posted by John | July 28, 2013, 10:19 pm
      • I have been for my face and neck and ears, sure.

        I’ll check out Bolglovin. Thanks so much for the website to more accurately calculate SPFs.

        Posted by Amy | July 30, 2013, 5:20 pm
        • Ooh okay that makes a lot more sense. 🙂

          That’s still a lot of sunscreen, but understandable since most women expose more of the collarbone area than men. Hence women need to use more sunscreen. My (T-) shirts are typically pretty snug around the neck.

          But yeah, I use 1/2 of a teaspoon for my face, neck, and ears. Keep up the good work!

          Posted by John | July 31, 2013, 6:35 pm
  6. For those of us with incredibly oily skin, I would like to point out that this is not as tiny as it seems and the “I don’t understand how anyone can NOT apply this” attitude comes off as condescending. Most sunscreens are very emollient. My skin is very oily, so emollient + my face =/= ease of application. My skin simply doesn’t like to absorb that much product at one time, so I’m either left with a thick layer of product sitting on the top of my skin that will never sink in, or I have to decrease the amount I use.

    I have no idea what your skin type is or what sunscreen you use or anything like that, but I find it weird that you cannot imagine that applying 1/4 teaspoon of product being difficult for *anybody*. I don’t apply less than the recommended amount out of ignorance or laziness; I do it because otherwise I will have a puddle of grease all over my face for the entire day, and I can’t function like that.

    Posted by Oily-skinned | July 20, 2013, 11:47 pm
    • Hey there,

      I apologize if I came off condescending; it was not my intent. I was just so shocked when I received it on the mail. I was like, “WHOA, it’s so small!” But really, it’s still quite a bit of sunscreen when you scoop it all out. So I get how it can may still seem like a lot of product.

      That being said however, I too have extremely oily skin. I mean, I had horrible acne for about a decade of my life, so I know where you’re coming from. However, I can still quite easily apply 1/4 teaspoon of a rather emollient sunscreen on my face, and make things works. There are definitely sunscreens out there for our skin type. You just have to look hard enough.

      As for not being able to use 1/4 teaspoon of sunscreen, this is just a general recommendation that I’d like everyone to follow. However, there are other ways to achieve “adequate” protection. For example, if you apply 1/8 of a teaspoon of a potent sunscreen, then layer over with a liquid foundation/bb/cc cream that has good protection, followed by a powder with high levels of protection. Theoretically, that combo can certainly give you “good” protection, depending on of course the total extinction profile of the “combo.” You can also mix the sunscreen and cover-up product, depending on a variety of conditions of course. However, those scenarios are usually a bit more complicated than what most people want to deal with, which is why the general rule and recommendation of using 1/4 teaspoon of sunscreen remains in place. But those are certainly other options that can be explored if you haven’t found success yet in keeping your “face” on all day. 🙂

      I hope that makes sense, and again I apologize if I seemed rude or DIVA-ish. Haha. I also hope to see more of your comments, because readers like you–who respectfully point out things they don’t like, play a crucial role in keeping this site at its best.

      Have a great day!

      Posted by John | July 21, 2013, 6:33 pm
  7. Oh wow. I knew you listened to readers but when I checked your blog for help on figuring out a sunscreen, I didn’t expect a separate post devoted to buying a 1/4 teaspoon. Thanks for doing this! (And your hilarious commentary made me smile. ^_^) Knowing the correct amount is helpful bc I apply a couple layers of different products to my skin and it’s reassuring that I don’t have to slather on a very thick layer of spf to keep my skin protected. Thanks again.

    Now–I have to get back to finding a sunscreen for face that’s 80 min sweat/water-resistant for my acne-prone combo sensitive skin for when I’m outdoors. I’m considering the Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid but 5% TiO2 and 3% ZiO2 just doesn’t sound right for spf 50…and the baby sunblock stick version of it isn’t much better either.

    Posted by Maggie | June 22, 2013, 4:16 pm
    • You’re welcome! I’m glad that you liked it, after all it was your suggestion. 😉

      I don’t remember what type of sunscreen you were looking for, if you ever told me. If you’d like suggestions, let me know the details.
      Although… you could always just wait for the humongous sunscreen series, which will include ~100 product recommendations, that’s coming in mid-August. Haha!

      Posted by John | June 24, 2013, 12:34 am
  8. Hey John, do you think the absorption of the sunscreen by our palms when we are applying it is significant?

    Posted by Thomas | May 29, 2013, 9:43 am
    • Nope, you don’t have to worry about this. The layer of dead skin cells (the stratum corneum) on your palms is significantly thicker than that on the rest of your skin, with the exception of other frequently touched parts like the soles of the feet, etc… It’s this layer that prevents most things from getting into your skin.

      So, the answer is definitely no. 🙂

      Posted by John | May 29, 2013, 1:41 pm
  9. Aint nobody got time for that!

    Posted by Brian | May 24, 2013, 9:35 am
    • Guess me and several other people I know are considered nobody. 😥

      Lol! But seriously, do the best that you can. It really only takes 30-60 seconds extra for me. And I in no way have a lot of free time unfortunately. So I imagine that if I can do it, so can most others.

      Posted by John | May 24, 2013, 5:54 pm
  10. OMG it is THAT small. ok im definitely apply enough. even bb creams and foundations. XD gosh i’m so greedy XD

    Posted by nelsonvengeance | May 22, 2013, 5:34 pm
  11. I’m a bit confused here, I recently bought Avène’s Cleanance SPF30 sunscreen and the info states that Avène recommends to use SEVEN pumps when using a 50ml with pump product only for the face and neck, which is the case with this one. SEVEN! As the neck has quite surface for the face alone I use four pumps (also it is the maximum I can bear as more gets waay too greasy) and let me tell you I think just one pump seems to be far more than that tiny spoon! I always aimed to use something near to half tablespoon of sunscreen daily, this seems to be so little.

    Are they crazy at Avène or what? 🙂

    Thanks for your efforts, I appreciate a lot all the info you provide us. Also pardon my english as I’m a spaniard 🙂


    Posted by Alétheia | May 21, 2013, 1:50 pm
    • I completely get what you’re saying. I was like… the necessary amount is that little? But keep in mind that the 1/4 teaspoon is only enough sunscreen to cover JUST your face (on average). You need (on average) another full scoop for your neck.

      But hey, if you are okay with applying more, good for you! You can never get TOO much sun protection!

      Posted by John | May 21, 2013, 7:31 pm
  12. You are so funny! I have this vision of you gleefully measuring out your sunscreen every morning with your beauitful shiny spoon. But why not also buy a half teaspoon and do your neck, too? Or a teaspoon and do your face, neck, and chest? Think of the spoons you could collect! LOL

    To be serious, though, many women should measure how much product they’re using until they know what the correct amount looks like. A lot of women rely on their primer or foundation alone for SPF and they’d never use 1/4 teaspoon’s worth. One pump from a bottle would only be about 1/16 teaspoon or less and therein lies the problem. A lot of women simply aren’t using an adequate amount of sunscreen. So, you just keep on nagging us about using the proper amount of a dedicated sunscreen product. It’s for our own good 🙂

    Posted by Eileen | May 21, 2013, 12:37 pm
    • Lol! I don’t usually have time to appreciate having my “precious,” but it’s nice to know that I apply way too MUCH rather than too little sunscreen. 🙂 And I’d rather just measure it out twice, rather than eyeball it. Me <<< OCD about being correct. Haha.

      Oh don't worry, I'm definitely going to nag away!

      Posted by John | May 21, 2013, 7:28 pm
  13. This is something I’ve been wanting to buy for a while, because I suspect I’m not using enough sunscreen despite slathering it on everyday. It looks so shiny!

    Posted by Emy Shin | May 21, 2013, 12:26 pm
    • Yes!! Definitely get one! And make sure to powder over your sunscreen after it sets. 🙂

      Posted by John | May 21, 2013, 7:25 pm
      • Oh, I hadn’t thought about that! Do you powder to set the sunscreen (so it wouldn’t move)? Is it needed even over water resistant sunscreens?

        It’s just because I’m using inorganic sunscreens, and they tend to be very drying already. Powdering might make it worse.

        P.S. Do you use a powder with SPF? Which one would you recommend? 🙂

        Posted by Emy Shin | May 22, 2013, 7:22 am
        • Oh I DEFINITELY powder over my sunscreen since I have really oily skin; it helps set everything: from the sunscreen to any concealer/foundation that I apply over it.

          As for whether or not you NEED powder, that really depends on how you like the finish and longevity of your “face.” If your sunscreen really stays put and doesn’t budge throughout the day, then you can use powder just to temper down the shininess. In this case, you don’t have to use a super matte and/or long-wearing powder, but one that just blurs everything a bit–just so your face isn’t so obviously shiny.

          And I agree about the dryness of inorganic sunscreens; they tend to accentuate any dry skin–something that I had to deal with the past two years. Boo!

          Finally, of course I use a powder with a LOT of inorganic UV filters listed in the active ingredients, just because it’s my philosophy and belief that, no matter how gently you apply powder and how transfer-resistant your sunscreen is, when you sweep on powder with any application tool, you will be removing some of the sunscreen. So you need to replace that lost amount with another “sunscreen.” This time, it’ll be in the form of powder!

          Does that make sense?

          Posted by John | May 22, 2013, 7:55 am
  14. John, I’m so confused- why are you not at futurederm any
    longer? You were the GREATEST and in your year anniversary you talked of ‘many more years’. I am still glad you are still writing here though

    Posted by G | May 21, 2013, 2:16 am
    • Wow. Thanks! Yeah, when I wrote that, I didn’t really acknowledge that I needed to stop writing for them, at least temporary. But looking back, it was definitely the right decision. And as you saw from the Scheduling post (or I hope you did), there will be a LOT of posts coming; so many that you’ll probably see me as spam. 😉 And you can always reach me here, and via the other contact avenues (Facebook, Twitter, and email).

      So never fear!

      Posted by John | May 21, 2013, 1:01 pm
      • But will you go back to futurederm eventually? I just can’t believe nikki let you go?? I mean your work was all correct right? I always liked nikki but I don’t think I’ll go to futurederm if you’re not there- I just don’t understand…

        Posted by G | May 21, 2013, 2:54 pm
        • Oh, I guess I wasn’t very clear and I apologize for that.

          I turned in a letter of resignation to Nicki; I fired or anything like that. As stated in my last post for FutureDerm, I just needed more time to focus on my blog and my personal life. When things slow down a bit and the blog is “complete,” I may consider going back. But we’ll see.

          Posted by John | May 21, 2013, 7:35 pm
  15. OK, I thought I already commented when I was in the subway, but maybe the network connection went down – so please accept my apologies if this is a duplicate 🙂

    So, if anyone is concerned that they are not applying enough sunscreen , buy a 2ml sterile syringe and extract 1,25ml, put it in your palm and remember how much to use next time 🙂 easy !
    p.s. I think that I am applying more than 1/4 tsp, looking at how tiny the tsp is :)))

    Posted by Simona | May 21, 2013, 12:36 am
    • Actually, your first comment did go through! But I’ll just approve this one since you spent more time writing it.

      But yeah, good suggestion! Although, I’d imagine it may be difficult to do that depending on the sunscreen’s texture: something that’s more emollient and/or thick, would take forever and a day to extract and then pump back out. I think the teaspoon rule is a bit more applicable. 🙂

      Posted by John | May 21, 2013, 12:58 pm

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