A young woman wearing a sunscreen under her natural makeup. Made up by Louise Wittlich, makeup artist and beauty coach.

How to Wear Sunscreen with Makeup

One question I’m asked a lot during my makeup classes as soon as the days are warming up is how to wear sunscreen with makeup. Is there a way to make them go together?

No need to repeat to you how important it is to protect your skin against damage caused by the sun. But this applies not only during your holidays and on the beach. An outdoor lunch on a sunny day can be enough to get you seriously burnt.
But how can you wear sunscreen with your everyday office makeup?

Lots of Makeup Products Nowadays Contain Sunscreen, That’s Great, isn’t it?

Lately, there are lots of makeup products which contain sun protection. Isn’t that great? Well, no…!

Let me explain: Firstly the SPF* of makeup products is most often on the rather low side, between 10 and 25, which doesn’t provide proper protection.

But more important still in my opinion is the fact that with makeup products you never apply enough to achieve a serious protection.
Because, what a lot of people arent’t aware of is that in order to fully benefit from the SPF, you need to apply a lot of product. The equivalent of a tea spoon for the face alone.
We’re dealing here with a contradiction. Because when it comes to face makeup, foundation, concealer, even tinted moisturizer, we want to apply as little as possible.

(*Explainer: What does SPF 30 or 50+ Actually Mean?

The rating of the SPF, 10, 20, or 50, what does the number stand for? SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and the number actually is a multiplicator of the time exposed to the sun without getting burnt. Let’s take this example: Being rather fair I can be in the sun for let’s say 10 minutes before my skin will start turning red. With an SPF 50 this would happen only after 50 times 10 minutes.

Sounds not bad, doesn’t it. In theory. Because in reality lots of factors play a role. You may be sweating and/or rubbing your face and thereby removing the protection. In real life you need to re-apply sunscreen every 2 to 3 hours.

In short: For proper protection, pick an SPF 30 or 50 and re-apply regularly.)

How do I Wear Sunscreen with Makeup?

If I want to wear my usual office makeup but still protect my skin from the sun, how do I go about this?

First of all, forget about the SPF included in makeup products. Instead, go for a proper sunscreen product with an SPF of at least 30.
These days there are lots of products on the market which are light-weight and transparent. Gone are the days of being spread with a thick white layer.

My product recommendations: Unseen Sunscreen de Supergoop, already crazily successfull in the US and now available in Europe.
Always with me on an outdoor shooting day, because of it’s super convenient stick format, Shiseido’s Protecteur UV transparent SPF 50.
Or the great classic Fluide Invisible Athélios from La Roche-Posay with its SPF 50+.

As far as the order of application is concerned, sun products come after your usual skincare routine and before any makeup product. Apply them very generously and if possible wait a moment before applying your makeup.
Also, don’t forget to apply sunscreen on your ears if they’re not covered by your hair.

What if Your Sunscreen Makes Your Face very Shiny?

There are lots of sun products out there which won’t leave your skin super shiny. But if your sunscreen of choice makes you more shiny than you like, a transparent powder may help, in particular over the T-zone. My product advice: Dior’s Forever Cushion Powder or Nars’ Light Reflecting Setting Powder.

My pro tip: if you don’t need a lot of coverage why not put aside your foundation for the summer and instead go for a transparent mattifying gel?
These colourless products not only eliminate shine but have also a blurring effect which makes pores and small lines less visible.

You’ll find them for example at MAC: Prep and Prime Skin Refined Zone. Or at Make Up For Ever: Shine Control.

This technique makes the re-application of your sunscreen also much easier. Remember, you need to do this every 2-3 hours…

Have a look at this post for more summer makeup tips: 6 Makeup Tips for the Most Luminous Summer Glow.

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