Read This Before Mixing Face Sunscreen Into Your Foundation

September 09, 2020
By: Marisa Petrarca | by L'Oréal
Read This Before Mixing Face Sunscreen Into Your Foundation

At this point, we’re all well-versed in the fact that sunscreen is a must in our daily beauty routines. But how are you applying your go-to formula? Are you simply wearing a foundation that promises SPF protection? Or are you mixing sunscreen directly into your foundation like you’re doing a science experiment? As concerned beauty editors who want to help you keep your skin in top-notch shape, we’re here to help you make good skin-care choices, starting with sunscreen. 

To find out the best way to apply SPF under makeup, we reached out to Dr. Lian Mack, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City, and yes — there is a right way to apply it. 

Hit *Pause* Before Mixing SPF Into Your Foundation

“I don’t recommend mixing moisturizer with SPF,” says Dr. Mack. “Mixing the two may alter the properties of the SPF, making it less effective.” And before we go any further, no, wearing a foundation with SPF by itself isn’t the answer because you probably won’t apply enough of the product to get the level of protection you need (more on that below). 

Instead, Dr. Mack recommends layering the two products. “The order in which you apply the products depends on the type of SPF being used,” she says. “For example, If you are using a chemical sunscreen, it needs to sit directly on the skin to absorb the rays of the sun where it is then converted to heat. In this instance, I recommend applying SPF first.” 

A few chemical sunscreens we recommend wearing under makeup include the Lancôme UV Expert Aquagel Sunscreen, the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-in-Milk Sunscreen for Face & Body SPF 100 and the Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen.

And if you’re using a physical sunscreen, it should be applied after moisturizer and foundation. “Physical sunscreens contain zinc or titanium dioxide and act as a barrier, reflecting the UV rays of the sun,” explains Dr. Mack. “Moreover, they can be layered over other facial products because they reflect the UV rays of the sun.” 

A few examples of mineral sunscreens include the CeraVe Tinted Sunscreen with SPF 30 (you might not even need to wear foundation over it!), the Unsun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen, and the Brush On Block SPF30 Translucent Mineral Powder Sunscreen (a great choice if you don’t want to disturb your makeup and get a mattifying effect, too). 


How to Choose the Right Face Sunscreen

“First, you should choose an SPF 30 or higher that has broad-spectrum coverage, meaning that it protects from both UVA and UVB rays,” explains Dr. Mack. “When using a chemical sunscreen, it should be applied at least 15 to 20 minutes before sun exposure on bare skin. Physical sunscreens, however, may be applied immediately before sun exposure because they don’t take time to work.”

How Much Sunscreen Should You Use? 

According to Dr. Mack, most people aren’t using enough sunscreen. “To truly achieve the SPF on the packaging of the bottle, you should use at least two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin,” she says. “This translates to a nickel-size dollop to the face alone. That means that most adults need one ounce — or a full shot glass — to cover their entire body.”

Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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