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Why SPF in Your Makeup Is Not Enough to Protect You From the Sun

Why SPF in Your Makeup Is Not Enough to Protect You From the Sun

Discover if Your Skin Is Really Protected from the Sun

Is SPF in your makeup enough? If you assume that by applying a daily foundation and having a sun protection factor, or SPF, in your makeup is enough to get you covered for sun damage through the day, I’m sorry to break the bad news, but you need a bit more sunscreen protection. You also need to apply more layers throughout the day to really get the protection you need if you are depending on your products alone to prevent sun damage.

What does makeup with SPF really consist of? Is the SPF concentration the same as it is in a sunscreen?

Sun protection factors are determined by testing regulated by the FDA. SPF values are based on applying a strictly prescribed amount of product to your skin, and that amount can feel like a lot. The amount is also described as “generous and liberal.”

The SPF number will be the same no matter what type of product it describes because the number is determined by this testing. Your application won’t be the same, though. We use moisturizers differently than we use makeup. We use makeup differently than we use sunscreen. That’s the "rub"! And, it’s why your makeup is NOT enough to prevent sun damage.

If someone is wearing makeup with SPF, do they also have to wear additional sunscreen?

Yes, you need sunscreen even if there is an SPF value listed on your makeup.

You apply makeup to achieve a final, complexion appearance. You need to be free to do what’s necessary with your makeup application to achieve that goal. It’s why makeup should not be used in place of sunscreen.

How do you ensure that you are really protecting your face from sun damage?

Start with an SPF 30 or higher product that’s also labeled as providing "Broad Spectrum" protection.

Apply the right amount: To get the full SPF stated on a product label of sunscreen, you need to apply 2mg/cm2; that’s a lot.

It roughly translates to about ¼ teaspoon for your face. Use more if you are including your ears and neck, or if your face is large, or your hairline is recessed. In general, aim for generous and liberal application. If you don’t want a “generous-and-liberal” feel of product on your face, then apply your sunscreen in two layers; apply once, let it dry and apply a second layer.

Wear a hat if you will be in the sun for extended periods of time. Seek the shade, too. Every UV-ray that does not hit your facial skin cells is a "win."

Reapply sunscreen if you are out for an extended time, too. The rule is every two hours. That’s hard if you wear makeup, and here is where SPF in your makeup can help. If you are using a mineral powder, the particles will give added protection. “Freshening up” your makeup may well freshen up some sun protection.

What is the lowest SPF that I would recommend for a makeup product? Why?

Sunscreen in makeup is "lagniappe," which means, "a little something extra." As a dermatologist, I don’t recommend it as a substitute for sunscreen for the reasons I stated above. Use it to reapply as you touch up your makeup during the day. That will help give added protection. But, don’t step outside until your sunscreen is on your skin and ready to shield you from UV-rays first!

What is the "right" way to wear sunscreen under (or over?) makeup?

Top your sunscreen with your makeup, and aim your makeup application to reach your goals for the appearance of your complexion.

  • Sunscreen goes on before makeup.
  • Makeup is added on top to create the look you want.

When you use a mineral makeup, the mineral particles give great, physical protection. I love mineral makeup applied or dusted over a good sunscreen. That’s your best protection.

What are recommendations for sunscreens that work as good primers before makeup?

Sheer Strength Pure Physical Tinted Matte Sunscreen SPF 50 absorbs oil and is tinted to help even-out complexion flaws. It blends into all skin tones. The base is an excellent makeup primer. Get sunscreen protection that works!
Sheer Strength Pure Physical Invisible Sunscreen SPF 50 is untinted and is also an excellent primer. Apply invisible sunscreen
Suntegrity BB Cream SPF 30 is a combination product that is a sunscreen first, but it also contains hydrating botanical oils that work to moisturize skin. The tinting helps to hide complexion flaws. Get the best daily sunscreen for sensitive dry skin with rosacea
Suntegrity Lip CPR Lipstick with SPF 30 best sun protection natural lipstick
Vanicream Lip Protectant Sunscreen SPF 30 Protect your lips!

What are recommendations for products that layer well on top of foundation and for midday sunscreen touch-ups?

Here is where mineral makeup reigns supreme! The mineral particles act to bounce light off your skin and augment your sunscreen. Freshen up makeup and add another layer of mineral particles. You’ll note that I don’t label SPF on makeup – makeup is not sunscreen for the reasons I mentioned above.

Apply your makeup on top of your sunscreen. Use makeup to create your look. Know that the physical particles of mineral makeup will help your sunscreen shield your skin from UV rays – and wear a hat and seek the shade when you are outside for extended periods of time.  

DBSC Pressed Powder for all skin types and ideal for oily complexions mineral makeup for all skin types
DBSC Baked Mineral Powder for all skin types best mineral makeup
DBSC Loose Mineral Makeup Powder loose mineral makeup powder
DBSC Loose Mineral Makeup Blush mineral makeup blush with iron oxide
DBSC Mineral Eye Shadow Trio Eyes hadow - SPF in your makeup
DBSC Loose Eye Shadow best mineral makeup
The perfect cruelty-free brush set Learn how to clean your makeup brushes - cruelty free makeup brush set

SPF in Your Makeup Is Not Enough to Protect You From the Sun

These are my insights on using makeup AND protecting your skin from the sun's harmful, UV-rays.

For more insights on this and to check out the products mentioned above, click here.