Beauty Q&A: Is the SPF in My Makeup Enough to Protect My Skin?

June 15, 2023
Alanna Martine Kilkeary
By: Alanna Martine Kilkeary | by L'Oréal
person applying makeup to their skin

There are countless makeup products on the market that contain SPF. Between SPF-infused foundations, tinted moisturizers, lip balms, finishing powders and even eyeshadows, the options are plentiful. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a good thing — you really can’t go overboard with sunscreen. But the question is whether the SPF found in your makeup products is really enough to protect your skin from the sun. 

We reached out to New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King to find out.

Do I Need to Wear Sunscreen if My Makeup Has SPF?

“An important thing to consider when using moisturizers, primers and makeup with SPF is how much you need to apply in order to achieve the advertised SPF,” says Dr. King. “You should use approximately 2 milligrams of product per square centimeter of skin. In practice, this means applying the equivalent of a shot glass of sunscreen to the exposed area of the face and body — a nickel-sized dollop to the face alone.” 


You probably aren’t using a shot glass-full of makeup (it’s a lot!), so you should  apply sunscreen in addition to your makeup. And even if you are using a shot glass-full of a makeup product, we still recommend applying sunscreen as the last step in your skincare routine to ensure protection — consider your makeup a bonus. 

The Best Sunscreens to Wear Under and Over Makeup

A tinted sunscreen, like the CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 Face Sheer Tint, is the best of both worlds, providing protection and light coverage. If you’re looking for an SPF that applies beautifully underneath makeup, try the SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50. It’s a fluid formula that protects and adds a tinted glow to the skin without feeling heavy.
cerave hydrating mineral sunscreen spf 30 face sheer tint

Next, reach for a foundation formula that also has an SPF component to help add another layer of protection. We love the Very Valentino 24 Hour Wear Liquid Foundation with SPF 26 for a more full-coverage option, or the Rare Beauty Positive Light Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20 Sunscreen for a more lightweight pick.

Finally, don’t forget to reapply sunscreen every two hours when you’re in the sun. We get that it’s not the easiest to reapply sunscreen when you’re wearing makeup, but more options that won’t compromise your beat are becoming available. We like using mineral powder sunscreen that doubles as a setting powder, like Brush On Block. Because it’s transparent, your makeup will stay intact during and after application. Another option is to use a setting spray or face mist with SPF, like the Vacation Inc Super Spritz SPF 50.
brush on block mineral sunscreen, vacation spritz sunscreen
Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

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