Regardless of your skin tone, hereditary risk for skin cancer, or the amount of time you spend outdoors, you should be wearing sunscreen every single day—full stop. Sunscreen is the single most important product to incorporate into your skin care routine, both for protecting yourself against harmful rays and preventing signs of aging. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, as much as 80 percent of visible aging comes from UV exposure.
Luckily, sunscreen comes in just about every product type you can imagine, including makeup. Today’s market offers no shortage of high-performing tinted moisturizers, setting sprays and complexion products infused with SPF levels of 20 or higher. (SPF 15 is the minimum recommendation from the AAD, for the record.) But are you fully covered with the SPF in your makeup alone? More on that—and the best SPF makeup products—ahead.
The Best Way to Prep Your Skin for Makeup
Before we dig into the options you have for reapplying SPF over your makeup, it’s important to understand the right way to conduct your initial application. In order to get the level of sun protection that’s labeled on the bottle, you need to use ¼ teaspoon of that product—any less than that and you aren’t getting the labeled SPF protection. You’ll find that ¼ teaspoon of, let’s say a foundation or a liquid blush, is a lot of product, so it’s important to think of makeup infused with SPF as the cherry on top, rather than rely on it as your sole source of SPF. So before you get to your makeup, apply ¼ teaspoon of your favorite SPF. Then you can dig into the fun stuff.
“Many makeup products provide an excellent addition—not replacement—to the sunscreen armamentarium,” says Dr. Alicia Zalka, a board-certified dermatologist and Surface Deep founder. “But the terrific news is that makeup that contains a pigment, such as a tinted moisturizer with SPF, or lipstick with pigments, or even eyeshadow with color, can add another level of sun defense. So if you apply a layer of mineral sunscreen, then a foundation or tinted moisturizer with SPF topped with powder, that’s a winning combination,” she adds.
How to Reapply SPF Over Your Makeup
As for reapplying throughout the day, you have some options that won’t interfere with your makeup application. The first option is great for one-and-done makeup users who just like to use foundation or a tinted moisturizer without any other products. If this sounds like you, you can add another layer of your complexion product of choice on top of your existing makeup (two layers of foundation might feel like a lot on the skin, but this method is very effective for those who prefer lighter formulas or tinted moisturizers). For those who like to apply other products (like blush, bronzer, highlight and concealer) on top of their makeup, there are other options that don’t involve blurring all of your products together.
“Since even the best products need to be reapplied throughout the day for best protection, I frequently reach for my mineral powder sunscreen,” says Dr. Zalka. “This can easily be applied on top of any makeup and or SPF already on the skin. I find this a flawless way to refresh the skin and protect it too.” Your next option is to use a setting spray infused with SPF, which will simultaneously refresh your makeup and give you an added layer of SPF protection.
Regardless of the method you choose, the most important factor here is to start strong with a generous application of a traditional sunscreen, then think of your makeup and subsequent reapplications as a form of added protection.
The ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint is a major award winner and a favorite among dermatologists and beauty editors alike. The formula truly feels like a lightweight hydrating serum, but offers all of the coverage power of a foundation. With SPF 40, hydrating squalane and hyaluronic acid, it’s a win-win-win for your skin.
This mineral SPF-containing foundation visibly blurs the skin for a radiant, lit-from-within glow. And while this product delivers a luminous finish, it also works to improve skin from the inside out while you wear it over time. Ingredients like squalane and peptides work to hydrate and fortify the skin, while mineral SPF 20 protects you from the sun for longer-lasting skin health.
According to Dr. Zalka, mineral foundations offer a natural level of sun protection by creating a physical barrier between your skin and the sun, even if there isn’t an SPF level listed on the product. So for a mineral powder to contain SPF 20—as is the case with Jane Iredale’s PurePressed Base Mineral Foundation—means you’re getting extra protection. This breathable, semi-matte formula infused with physical blockers like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (plus antioxidants and soothing algae extracts) is an excellent option to keep in your bag to reduce shine and reapply SPF over your makeup.
For a natural flush sans the sun damage, opt for a liquid blush boosted with SPF. Cream blushes leave a softer, more skin-like finish than powder formulas, and gel-cream blush is particularly forgiving. The sheer, buildable formula is completely foolproof and improves skin while you wear it with brightening agents like vitamin C and Chinese ginger plant extract—all while adding a wash of color to the apples of your cheeks.
ICYMI, your lips are skin too, which means they need SPF protection just as much as the skin on your face. While a dedicated layer of SPF is definitely the way to go, lip color infused with SPF is a great way to reapply throughout the day. Try the Colorscience Sunforgettable Lip Shine, a physical sunscreen that also contains hydrating squalane and barrier-boosting jojoba esters.
Infused with free radical-fighting antioxidants and an SPF level of 30, this soothing mist not only sets makeup and delivers SPF protection, but also hydrates and illuminates the skin, leaving behind a soft, dewy glow. For continued sun protection, keep it in your bag and mist generously every two hours.
Holly is a writer and editor based in New York City where she has covered beauty, wellness and travel for three years. Outside of Dermstore, you can find her work on the digital arms of ELLE, Cosmopolitan, Byrdie, Marie Claire, Forbes, Women's Healt... Read More >