How to Wear Sunscreen Under Foundation, According to an Expert

May 08, 2020
By: Marisa Petrarca | by L'Oréal
The Right Way to Wear Sunscreen Under Foundation – According To An Expert
We all know the rule of thumb when it comes to sunscreen: wear it all day, every day, even if you, like most of us, are currently spending most of your time at home indoors. The topic of wearing sunscreen with makeup — especially sunscreen with foundation — is not so cut and dry, though. It brings up a series of questions and concerns. What level of protection do you really need? Should you reapply? Is SPF in your foundation enough? Should you apply your sunscreen under your makeup? We could go on and on. To help us practice safe sun, New York City-based dermatologist Bruce Katz of Juva Skin shared his top tips.

What SPF Should You Be Wearing?

Simple: “SPF 30,” says Dr. Katz. “I tell my patients to apply it evenly all over until it vanishes. And for both UVA and UVB protection, it’s important to look for these three ingredients: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and avobenzone,” he says.

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are physical sunscreens rather than chemical sunscreens. If you have sensitive skin, you should look for sunscreen that uses those ingredients as they are unlikely to irritate your skin. They provide a physical barrier to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays; it’s like wearing a mask. Plus, you can apply this sunscreen under your foundation — it even acts as a primer. Don’t forget to apply some to your neck and ears!

Product Recommendations: 

CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen Face Lotion SPF 30

Lancôme UV Expert Aquagel Sunscreen

CōTZ Skin Care Face Moisture Lightly Tinted Mineral Moisturizing Sunscreen


But What If My Foundation Already Has SPF In It?

Your makeup already has SPF in it, you’re covered, right? “Don’t rely on makeup for the best source of SPF as it’s notoriously unreliable in terms of the level of protection,” says Dr. Katz. “Plus, makeup isn’t always applied evenly and comes off easily,decreasing optimal coverage. You want to wear sunscreen underneath your foundation — it actually provides a better base for your makeup application.” 

He also recommends waiting a few minutes before applying your foundation to allow your sun protection to set. So, yes, your morning routine should include applying sunscreen before your makeup. Don’t skimp on application either. Make sure you get a generous even layer of sunscreen on your face before applying any other cosmetic products. Choose a foundation you love regardless of SPF, and think of makeup with added sun protection as a bonus.

Product Recommendations: 

Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24hr Long Wear Foundation 

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Foundation Oil-Free Matte Full Coverage Moisturizer 

Maybelline New York Dream Radiant Liquid Foundation 


How Do I Reapply Throughout the Day?

That depends. “If you’re sweating or swimming, I recommend that you reapply sunscreen every two to three hours, but if you’re not getting wet, it can last four to six hours,” says Dr. Katz. 

Now an answer to the question we have been waiting for — how do you reapply SPF when you’re already wearing makeup? “For maximum protection, sunscreen should be applied directly onto skin, underneath any makeup, other moisturizers or skin-care products. You can put sunscreen on over your foundation, but ideally, you would wash it all off and reapply — although we know most won’t really do that,” says Dr. Katz. An alternative? Loose powder or a mineral veil with added sun protection. Just don’t forget to wear physical sunscreen underneath your makeup and avoid staying near windows for long periods of time when inside.

Even if you prefer using a liquid sunscreen, don’t let that deter you from reapplying it over your makeup — pat some on, and use it as an opportunity to retouch. Protecting your skin from cancer is more important than flawless foundation.

Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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