If you ask a beauty editor (or dermatologist, for that matter) what the secret is for eternally youthful skin, they’ll likely answer with one word: sunscreen. Sunscreen is the magic ingredient that helps keep wrinkles and age spots at bay by guarding against UV damage. But you knew that, right? The fact of the matter is everybody knows she should be wearing sunscreen every day without fail, rain or shine, but not everyone does. You probably have enough already going on in the morning, right? The idea of adding an extra step to your packed routine can seem…daunting.
Which is why makeup infused with sunscreen may just be the perfect solution. Get your daily dose of SPF and beautify your complexion in one step? Genius! So convenient! It almost seems too easy, like there must be some sort of catch. So, we went to an expert to get the lowdown on sunscreen in makeup: dermatologist Annie Chiu, MD, in Redondo Beach, CA, an uber-sunny place where daily sunscreen usage is an absolute must. She dispelled some common myths for us so that you can be sure to keep your skin in good condition now and in the future.
Myths about Makeup with Sunscreen
Myth 1: Applying a makeup containing SPF 30 gives you the same level of protection as smoothing on a sunscreen containing SPF 30.
Both may contain the exact same sunscreen ingredients, but according to Chiu, you’re likely getting a little less SPF protection that what’s labeled on your makeup bottle. “This is because most people do not use a tablespoon of makeup on their face, which is the amount you would need to get the SPF written on the package,” she says. That’s right—for total and complete coverage guaranteeing you receive the full factor of your sunscreen, you need to apply a tablespoon of product to your face, whether it’s your basic sunscreen or your tinted moisturizer. Not so hard to do when the lotion in question is clear, but try working a tablespoon of liquid foundation over your complexion and you’ll find that it’s mucho makeup.
By the way, if you’re thinking you might DIY it by mixing your sunscreen lotion into your foundation and then applying it to your face, Chiu says that’s a no-no for product stability reasons.
Myth 2: Once you put on your sunscreen in the morning, you’re set for the day.
If only. Even office workers need to reapply their SPF every 3 to 4 hours. Which means that if you relied on foundation to provide your sunscreen protection, you need to add another tablespoon of it to your face at intervals throughout the day. Which is kind of…yuck. For that reason, Chiu suggests power-based sunscreens to both give you extra protection and freshen your makeup at the same time. As far as lips go, if you’re continually licking them or you consume a lot of beverages (without a straw), you may need to re-up your sunscreen protection more frequently.
Myth 3: When you apply makeup containing sunscreen over your regular sunscreen, you get coverage equivalent to adding the two SPFs.
30 plus 15 does not equal 45, in this case. “SPF is not additive,” says Chiu. That said, your makeup probably gives a little boost to your sunscreen protection. This is because the makeup layer helps even out your sunscreen layer, covering spots you may have missed on your face with sunscreen and giving you more uniform protection.
Myth 4: An SPF of 15 is all you need.
Not quite, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, which recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above on a daily basis. However, “if you use a separate sunscreen of SPF 30 or above, even an SPF 15 in your makeup can give you that additional coverage you may miss with your sunscreen,” says Chiu. “Or if you don’t use enough of your sunscreen to get the full SPF 30 protection, a little more in your makeup can only help.”
Myth 5: You’re getting the full SPF labeled on the package when you apply makeup containing sunscreen.
Probably not. “People are often fooled by this,” says Chiu. “But SPF is measured by how much you apply per square centimeter of your skin, and unless you really cake-on the makeup, in reality you’re probably getting less than the full SPF in your makeup.”
The 10 Best Makeup Product with Sunscreen
No matter what you need (a lightweight liquid foundation? A colorful lip protectant?), these 10 picks have got your number. Click through our slideshow for the best options.