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Sunscreen and Your Makeup Routine

Many foundations and powders contain sunscreen, but is it enough for daily protection?

By Susan P. Clark

Reviewed by Emmy M. Graber, MD

WebMD Feature

You want to prevent wrinkles and skin cancer, so you are dedicated to wearing sunscreen. But coverage looks shiny or chalky, especially under makeup.

Many foundations and other makeup products offer a built-in sun protection factor (SPF). Is that your smartest beauty solution? Dermatologist Leslie Baumann, MD, says giving in to that temptation would be a mistake.

"Makeup does not provide enough coverage," she says. "You need seven times the normal amount of foundation and 14 times the normal amount of powder to get the sun protection factor on the label. No one does this."

So can you marry makeup and sunscreen in your routine and still look good? Yes, if you follow these steps.

1. Select the proper sunscreen.

Before you step in front of the bathroom mirror, find a sunscreen that offers enough protection. The Skin Cancer Foundation advises people to use a moisturizer containing broad-spectrum sunscreen (which means it blocks both UVA and UVB rays) with an SPF rating of at least 15. Ingredients such as zinc oxide, avobenzone (Parsol 1789) or ecamsule (Mexoryl), combined with octocrylene and avobenzone work best with makeup and provide broad spectrum sun protection.


  • Baumann says to layer a physical sunscreen, such as Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer SPF 15, with a chemical sunscreen (either Topix Glycolix Elite Sunscreen SPF 30 or Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Sensitive Skin SPF 30), to block most of the sun’s rays.
  • Tina Turnbow, makeup artist, advisesusing a natural moisturizer, such as Pur-lisse pur-protect SPF 30, which is light and smooth and good for dewy skin. She also says Arcona Reozone SPF 20 is a little richer but has more of a matte finish.
  • Patti Bell, makeup artist, says DDF Matte Finish Photo-Age Protection SPF 30 is oil-free.
  • Karen Houpt, dermatologist, says that If you’re concerned about an unflattering white pall, avoid products with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.


2. Apply sunscreen liberally.

"Apply a thin, even coat, approximately one teaspoon for face, neck, and ears," Houpt says. ""Let the sunscreen soak into the skin and dab the excess with tissue. After you finish applying sunscreen, wash the residue off your hands before applying makeup.

3. If necessary, use SPF eye cream.

If sunscreen irritates the delicate area around your eyes, the Skin Cancer Foundation suggests using an SPF 15 eye cream.

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