How To Use The 13 Dot Technique To Ensure You're Using Enough Of Your SPF (& Other Skincare Essentials)

Sunscreen is a skincare staple that everyone should have in their beauty arsenal at all times. While everyone likely knows someone who may have had a negative experience with sunscreen (like a white cast after applying or a sticky texture left on the skin), the new generation of the skin-protecting formula goes on seamlessly and is much more lightweight, allowing people to reap all the benefits of wearing it.


According to Eminence Organic Skin Care, the benefits of wearing sunscreen can include slowing the aging process and preventing everything from hyperpigmentation to skin cancer. Despite all these amazing positives that come with wearing sunscreen, many people do not apply it properly.

Not only are most people unaware that you still need to wear SPF if you're indoors all day, but they also don't even apply enough initially when they are going outside. Enter the 13-dot technique. This method of applying products to the skin helps people wear the correct amount of sunscreen.

What is the 13-dot technique?

It is surprisingly common for people to not apply enough sunscreen to their skin. To combat that, Dr. Sam Bunting, a London-based cosmetic dermatologist, created the 13-dot technique to better demonstrate how much sunscreen needs to be applied to the face. To apply sunscreen this way, first, squeeze some product onto the back of your hand. Then, place three dots across the forehead and three down each side of the face, from cheekbones to cheeks. Finally, place one dot on both sides of the nose, and two dots on the chin. From there, you just rub whatever you have left on your hands onto your face.


In an Instagram post, Dr. Bunting explained that it's important that people are able to quantify the amount of SPF they use. "It's also imperative that you apply a product evenly like you're painting a wall," she added. "I find a structured approach works best, which is why my 13-Dot Technique makes it simple. It ensures the product doesn't end up absorbed into the palms of the hands too." 

Even after using this application technique, it is still important to touch up the product during the day, which includes reapplying SPF over your makeup (because, yes, you need to).

Determining the correct amount of other skincare products to use

Believe it or not, SPF is not the only skincare product people skimp out on. Dr. Bunting actually believes that despite most skincare brands recommending people use only a pea-size amount, she believes active skincare, like retinoids, should be applied with a bit heavier hand. As she explained to Red, "It's important to dose active skincare like retinol to ensure skin has time to adapt and acquire tolerance over a sensible period" she told the publication. She continued on to explain that during the first few weeks of using the product, she believes it's okay to use approximately a pea-sized amount, however, once you build a tolerance it's best to double that. For clients that need a visual aid to see exactly how much product to use, Dr. Bunting illustrates the right amount to use by drawing a 2-inch line on their finger. 


No matter if you are applying SPF or skincare serums, creams, and the like, it's important to use the appropriate amounts in order to get the most benefits from them.