Layering Sunscreen With Makeup Boosts Sun Protection

The warm days of summer offer the liberating freedom of shedding layers – except when it comes to protecting your skin from the sun. 

Ashley Johnson, LA, who provides aesthetic services at Samaritan Plastic, Reconstructive & Hand Surgery in Corvallis, explains how to fortify your defenses from the sun’s damaging effects with these easy steps for how to apply sunscreen with makeup. 

Makeup & Moisturizers Are Not Enough

Ultraviolet rays can do major damage to your skin, leading to premature aging and increasing your risk for skin cancer.

First, the good news. More and more foundations are being formulated with sunscreen included, which provide some of the same UV filtering benefits of a standalone sunscreen. It’s a convenient way to boost your protection in the sunny months when your skin is getting increased exposure to UV damage.

Although this is a wonderful way to boost protection, underapplication of sunscreen is already a common occurrence regardless of whether you layer it with makeup or not. Choosing a foundation with sunscreen is likely not enough protection unless you are wearing a layer of sunscreen underneath as well.

“Most people don’t apply a heavy enough layer of foundation containing SPF to provide the necessary protection the skin needs,” Johnson said.

So, you’re most likely not getting the same SPF protection that’s advertised on your makeup bottle.

Start Fresh, Then Let It Set

Sunscreen works best when it’s applied directly to clean skin. Begin by washing your face and moisturizing as usual.

Next, apply a thick even base layer of sunscreen and allow time for it to dry before applying makeup so that the layer has time to set up and won’t be moved around by the makeup applied thereafter. Just a couple of minutes will do the trick.

Your last layer is makeup.

“Layering in this order is most effective,” Johnson said.

Find for Formulas for Faces

Find sunscreens formulated specifically for the face. They are usually made of ingredients that improve skin health are more suitable for a lightweight, non-heavy finish, that can have makeup layered over the top.

She recommends Elta MD UV clear SPF 46, or Epionce Ultra Shield SPF 50 if you are looking for a tinted sunscreen.

Wonder how much protection you have if your beauty products and makeup also offer SPF protection?

If you start with a moisturizer with SPF 15, apply a layer of sunscreen containing SPF 30 and finish with a foundation containing SPF 15, you don’t have SPF 60 protection. You have the highest number SPF you applied, in this case, SPF 30 protection.

“That’s because SPF isn’t cumulative,” Johnson said.

How Much Do I Need?

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin – or about a nickel-sized dallop to cover your face and neck. When applying sunscreen, pay close attention to your entire face and neck. Don’t skip your chin, hairline and jaw or ears.

For areas that have the most sun exposure, including your forehead, nose and cheeks, it’s worth putting on a second layer of sunscreen to be certain you are covered. Give a minute or two for the sunscreen to dry between layers.

Samaritan Plastic, Reconstructive & Hand Surgery has you covered with savings on sunscreen all summer long. From June 1 through Aug. 31, 2023, save 20% on all sunscreens. Need help finding the right products? Our skin care experts can help you with recommendations to fit your skin type and lifestyle.

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