We already use makeup to help camouflage our skin imperfections that often are caused by too much sun exposure.
But can we use it to also help prevent sun damage?
Yes, according to experts.
Makeup and skin care products with a Sun Protection Factor label are expected to follow the same guidelines set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that applies to all products that contain sunscreen. If a product says it’s SPF 30, then it should block 97% of UVB rays (the kind of radiation that causes sunburns, damages skin and can contribute to skin cancer) compared to no sunscreen at all.
But here’s the catch: The amount of product that you need to put on your face to achieve a proper level of sun protection likely will leave you wearing a makeup mask.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends at least a nickel-sized dollop for the face, while others suggest roughly a teaspoon for the face and neck. Also, you’re likely still forgetting to protect your ears—because who wears makeup on their ears—so you’ll need a separate product for your lobes.
The recommended solution? Combining your UV-protection cosmetics with a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.
What should I look for on the label?
Look for the words “broad spectrum,” meaning it helps protect against UVA and UVB rays. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends products labeled with SPF 30 or higher. Sunscreen formulas made specifically for the face tend to be more lightweight than traditional sunscreens and can help avoid a cakey makeup look.
Will wearing multiple products with SPF ingredients boost sun protection?
Layering products that contain sunscreen will increase the likelihood that your entire face is covered, but it won’t boost the amount of protection you are receiving because the SPF values are not cumulative. For example, SPF 30 moisturizer plus SPF 30 foundation does not equal SPF 60 protection.
If I wear SPF makeup along with sunscreen, do I still need to reapply?
Yes, after roughly two hours (or more frequently if you are swimming, perspiring or toweling off). To avoid total reapplication, a popular option is to use powder-based sunscreens that can be applied over makeup.