How much is 2 milligrams per centimeter squared? Part Two

Last month, I did a post that involved calculating the amount of sunscreen actually needed to meet the SPF standard on the sunscreen label: 2 milligrams per centimeter squared.

It was a lot of sunscreen. 0.04oz of product were necessary to cover my face, and 1.063 were needed to cover the exposed regions when I wore a bikini. If there are any nudists reading this blog, y’all will need even more. (Or, even more likely, if any of y’all have a higher body surface area than I do!)

I got a really great response on that post, and included in the comments were practical questions about putting on your sunscreen to the 2 milligrams per centimeter squared standard. Commenter Amy requested that I show what applying 0.04oz of sunscreen to
my face actually looks like: “Neither you nor FutureDerm showed us what
trying to put that volume of
sunscreen on your face looks like. Go on – amuse us, I know you want to
look comically white and gross on the internet.” Luckily, Amy knows exactly what my life dreams have always been. To help give you guys an idea of the amount involved, I wore sunscreen in this quantity for both traditional sunscreen and powdered sunscreen.

Traditional Sunscreen

I used my handy dandy scale to weigh out 1.13g (0.04oz).I then applied it to my face.
Although some of you had expressed concern that I would not be able to rub it all in and put on my makeup over this huge volume of sunscreen, your fears were completely unfounded. It took more time to apply, but I did manage to rub it all in without incident. I had to wait to put on my makeup, but you’re supposed to do that with sunscreen anyways to give it time to bind to your face.Here, I used the Supergoop SPF 30+ Everyday UV Lotion for Face and Body, which retails for $14.00 for 1.6oz ($8.75 per ounce). Assuming one daily application, that would be 35 cents per day and $127.75 per year on my face alone. Obviously, though, there are tons of way cheaper sunscreens out there that might be better choices.Powdered Sunscreen

Amy also wondered about powdered sunscreen. “Try out your powder sunscreen with its recommended mass requirement,” she prompted.
This exercise was dramatically less successful. Not only was this process messy as fuck, I literally could not get all of the powder on my face. As I attempted to pack on more and more, it just started falling off my face like snow. I feel like this attempt easily demonstrates why powdered sunscreen should never be your primary sunscreen. Ever.

(What’s more, even if you COULD get this powder packed on at sufficient levels, even the cheapest powdered sunscreen is too costly to apply at this volume. At $250 per ounce, the Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral Powder SPF 45 would cost $10 every single application. Who wants to budget $3650 per year, plus reapplications, just for sunscreen? Even the ELF Studio SPF 45 Powder Sunscreen costs $17.14 per ounce, creating an annual cost of at least $250.24.)

Keep your eye out in the next few days for part three in this series, which will deal with spray-on sunscreen.

1. Awesome! That looks like me every morning, when I first actually measured the quantity some time ago that you should use I was like…damn, now what do I do with all this? Fortunately it ends up setting nicely, some options better than other but oh well. I hope a lot of people sees this, it changes the perception of the huge quantity needed than just reading “1.3 ml”. I’m sharing, thanks for this 🙂

I’ll be waiting for the 3rd part but I foresee disaster xD


2. Holy mother of god that is a lot of sunscreen. And I thought I was putting on more than enough – obviously I am not, looking at your beautifully besmeared face. Tomorrow morning I am actually going to go and try measuring the actual amount out
Looking forward to the rest of the series!


3. Oh my gosh, this is amazing. I can’t believe how disastrous the powder is! And I am most certainly not using enough sunscreen, but it’s never too late to start…

4. Jesus, I don’t think I’ve ever put on that much sunscreen! Really interesting post.

5. Hi! How can I get in touch with you about doing some writing with a company I work with? Your posts are so interesting but I didn’t see a way to contact you. You can reach me at jillian at

6. Wow – that is a lot of sunscreen. I thought I’d be layering it on, but I haven’t been close to that. I do tend to put it on more heavily on my body when I know I will be in the sun… Will you do one w/ the spray? I’d love to know how that works out.

I will say that I attribute my very good 44-year-old skin to consistent use of sunscreen on my face since I was about 23. I’ve had to have some moles removed from my back – but my face, which gets far more sun, has been good. Aside from wrinkle prevention/minimization, you really can’t argue with the whole “reduces risk of skin cancer” thing.

7. I AM SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW!!! I want to make your sunscreen face go viral!
Let’s be blog buddies. I haven’t updated in two freakin’ years beacuse it was a pre-PhD/unemployment gap endeavor, but I will again someday and I think it would amuse you.

8. WOW. I wear a comically insufficient amount of sunscreen. Great post! And the powder sunscreen fail face is just amazing.


9. Oh my god these photos are everything.