Q: I wear full makeup every day over a layer of sunscreen. Does it reduce my UV protection?
The key to reducing the risk of skin cancer, sun spots and wrinkles caused by sun exposure is include sunscreen in your daily routineand apply it – and reapply – correctly.
Fortunately, there is good news when it comes to wearing makeup and sunscreen at the same time. Nikhil Dingra, dermatologist at Spring Street Dermatology in New York: No matter how much foundation, concealer, blush or highlighter you put on during your makeup, you will still be protected from the sun if you follow a few simple rules. Steps.
Apply products in the correct order
One of the important ways to make sure that you are really protected from harmful ultraviolet rays This is applying sunscreen as the last step of your morning skincare routine, but before you start putting on any makeup.
Chemical sunscreens contain filters that penetrate the skin and absorb UV radiation, while physical (or mineral) sunscreens sit on top of the skin and scatter UV light. Because of these processes, sunscreen is most effective when applied directly to clean skin.
After washing your face in the morning and applying any skin care products such as toners, serums, moisturizers, or oils, apply sunscreen. Dermatologists recommend using a minimum SPF of 30.
Use enough sunscreen
Research found that people don’t usually use enough sunscreen for adequate protection. Most of them apply only a quarter of the amount they need for the entire body, the doctor said. Amanda Doyle is a dermatologist at the Russak Dermatology Clinic in New York. Do you need about two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin to achieve the advertised SPF, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Because everyone is different, this could mean more or less sunscreen depending on the size of your face. To make application a little easier, Tiara Willis, New York-based esthetician, recommends two finger rule (apply sunscreen to your middle and index fingers) to measure out enough sunscreen for your face and neck.
Let it set
Before applying any makeup over sunscreen, give it at least two minutes for it to absorb into the skin. Do not touch your face during this time. Dr. Kieran Mian, a dermatologist at Hudson Dermatology & Laser Surgery in New York, said adding makeup too early can dilute sunscreen or interact with ingredients, making them ineffective.
Think of applying sunscreen like painting a room: apply it in an even, thick layer, then allow it enough time to dry before touching or decorating it. Dr. Mian suggested doing something like brushing his brows after applying sunscreen to keep himself occupied for a while. As long as your sunscreen is properly dried and set, your makeup ingredients should not adversely affect its SPF.
Don’t rely on foundation with SPF
Many foundations, beauty balms, and color-correcting creams contain sunscreen, which can seem like a convenient way to protect your skin without compromising your usual makeup. However, make-up with SPF is not enough as your only sunscreen option, because you need to use it in large amounts – more than most people usually use for their everyday look – to effectively protect the skin.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to add SPF to your makeup because when it comes to sunscreen, more is better. One study published in 2021 even concluded that applying makeup over sunscreen increased overall sun protection. This is because all cosmetics, even products without a built-in SPF, contain filters similar to those found in physical sunscreens, which can provide additional protection if a base coat of sunscreen is not enough.
Apply sunscreen regularly
Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours and after swimming or sweating. Even sitting by a window while working, reapplication is required because the glass does not block UVA or UVB rays to a significant extent. Reapplying is usually as easy as applying another layer of sunscreen, but it can be more difficult when you’re wearing makeup.
Somewhat disappointing news: there is not enough research to prove how effective reapplying SPF over makeup is. And there’s reason to believe it’s not ideal because we know that sunscreen is most effective when applied as close to the skin as possible, and because it’s hard to apply enough sunscreen over makeup to provide adequate protection. Powdered sunscreens, for example, are a tempting option for reapplying because of their portability and usefulness as a quick touch-up tool, but really, Dr. Kula Swidzinski, medical director of the Skin of Color Center at Mount Sinai Medical Center, you need to apply about a teaspoon of powdered sunscreen to your face to reach your advertised SPF.
SPF sprays and sunscreen sprays in general are attractive because they are easy to apply, but the truth is that they still need to be rubbed into the skin to provide adequate sun coverage, negating the supposed convenience.
Also keep in mind that SPF is not cumulative. “If your sunscreen has an SPF 30 and then you apply a moisturizer with an SPF 15, you don’t have SPF 45 protection,” the doctor says. Mian said.
So what should be done? Experts say you should use any method that encourages you to reapply sunscreen if you realize that you probably won’t get the full advertised SPF. Whether you’re wearing powdered sunscreen, spraying your face with an SPF, or spraying sunscreen lotion on the back of your hand and applying it over makeup, even a small SPF boost is better than nothing, experts say.
Kyra Blackwell is a staff writer for Wirecutter, writing about health and sleep. Her work has previously appeared in Okayplayer, The Knockturnal and Nylon magazines.