Should you apply sunscreen or foundation first?

Q: I wear full face makeup on a layer of sunscreen every day. Does it reduce my protection from UV rays?

The key to reducing your risk of wrinkles from skin cancer, sunburn and sun damage is to include sunscreen in your daily routine and apply it – and reapply – correctly.

Fortunately, when it comes to wearing makeup and sunscreen together, there is some good news, says Dr. Nikhil Dhingra, a dermatologist at Spring Street Dermatology in New York City: No matter how much foundation, concealer, blush or highlighter you apply during your period. Makeup routine, you will still be protected from the sun – unless you follow a few simple steps.

An important way to make sure you are really protected from harmful UV rays is to apply your sunscreen as a last step in your morning skin care routine, but before you start applying any makeup.

Chemical sunscreens have filters that penetrate the skin and absorb UV light, whereas physical (or mineral) sunscreens sit on the skin and scatter UV light. Because of these processes, sunscreen is most effective when applied directly to clean skin.

After you wash your face in the morning and apply skin care products like toner, serum, moisturizer or oil on your sunscreen. Dermatologists recommend using a minimum of sun protection factor 30.

Studies have shown that people generally do not use adequate sunscreen for adequate protection. Dr. Amanda Doyle, a dermatologist at the Rusak Dermatology Clinic in New York City, said most apply a quarter of the amount they need for the whole body. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, you need about two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin to achieve the advertised SPF.

Since everyone is different, this means there may be more or less sunscreen depending on the size of your face. To make the application a little easier, New York-based aesthetist Tiara Willis recommends The rule of two fingers To measure enough sunscreen for your face and neck (cover the length of your middle and index finger with sunscreen).

Before applying any makeup on top of your sunscreen, give it at least two minutes to soak into the skin. Avoid touching your face at this time. Dr. Kiran Mian, a dermatologist at Hudson Dermatology and Laser Surgery in New York City, says adding too much makeup too soon can dilute your sunscreen or make contact with ingredients, rendering them ineffective.

Think of applying sunscreen like drawing a house: apply it in an even, thick coat, then give it enough time to dry before touching or sorting. Dr. Mian recommends doing something like brushing your eyebrows after applying sunscreen to keep yourself busy in the interim. If your sunscreen base is properly dried and set, your makeup ingredients will not negatively affect its SPF.

Many foundations, beauty balms and color-correcting creams contain sunscreen, which may seem like a convenient way to protect your skin without compromising your makeup routine. However, makeup with SPF is not enough as your only sunscreen alternative because you need to use it a lot more to effectively protect your skin – more than most people usually use for their daily look.

Of course, adding SPF to your makeup doesn’t hurt, because, when it comes to sunscreen, there’s more. A study published in 2021 even concluded that layering makeup on sunscreen enhances overall sun protection. This is because all makeup, even products that do not have built-in SPF, have filters like physical sunscreen, which can provide extra protection if your sunscreen base layer is not enough.

Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Even if you sit by the window when you work, you have to reapply, because the glass does not significantly block UVA or UVB rays. In general, re-applying sunscreen is just as easy as staining another coat, but it can be more complicated when you apply makeup.

Somewhat disappointing news: There is not enough research to prove how effective re-application of SPF on makeup is. And there are reasons to think this is not ideal, because we know that sunscreen is most effective when applied as close to the skin as possible and because it is challenging to apply enough sunscreen on top of makeup to be protective enough. For example, powdered sunscreens are a tempting alternative to reapplying because of their portability and usefulness as a quick touch-up tool, but in reality, says Dr. Kula Suvidjinsky, medical director of the Skin of Color Center at Mount Sinai Medical Center. , You need to apply about one teaspoon of powdered sunscreen on your face to reach the advertised SPF.

SPF setting sprays, and sunscreen sprays in general, are appealing for their easy application, but the truth is that they still need to rub into the skin to provide adequate coverage from the sun, which negates the supposed benefit.

Also, keep in mind that SPF is not incremental. “If your sunscreen is SPF 30, and then you apply an SPF 15 moisturizer, you don’t have SPF 45 protection,” Dr. Mian said.

So what should you do now? Experts say you should use a method that will encourage you to re-apply your sunscreen, until you realize that you probably won’t get the fully advertised SPF. Whether you reapply with a powdered sunscreen, dip your face in an SPF setting spray or squirt the sunscreen lotion on the back of your hands and pat it on your makeup, even a small SPF boost is better than nothing, experts say.

Kyra is a staff writer at Blackwell Workcutter who covers health and sleep. His work has previously been published in Occuplayer, The Nocturnal and Nylon Magazine.

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