Do You Still Need to Wear Sunscreen If Your Foundation Contains SPF 50?

By June 13, 2018

Ah, foundations with SPF. These innovative products always spark the same question from readers: If my foundation has SPF 50, do I need to wear sunscreen under it? Keep reading to find out the answer.

When it’s hot and humid outside, layering an arsenal of skin care and makeup on your face might be the last thing you want to do, which is why multi-tasking products are a godsend in the summer. However, when it comes to sunscreen, there’s no skipping it. Yes, even if your foundation contains SPF.

Here, two top dermatologists explain why.

“To get the coverage of SPF 30 as indicated on the packaging, you have to apply quite a bit of product—approximately a silver dollar amount—that is much thicker than people typically use for primer or foundations, so in essence you are not getting the full amount of coverage,” says Annie Chiu, a southern California-based dermatologist.

The only exception to this rule is if you’re going to stay inside all day (and away from windows), save for a morning and evening commute. Then, says Ellen Marmur, a dermatologist in New York City, the SPF in your makeup should cover you.

“But if you go out for lunch in the sunshine, sit next to a sunny window, or if you are spending more than one hour outside, you [need to apply a separate sunscreen] and reapply every 40 to 80 minutes,” says Marmur.

So now that we know you need to wear sunscreen under your foundation (even if it has SPF), here’s some ideas on how to make sure you’re getting all the protection you need.

A primer (try the Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream SPF 42) or even a bronzer with SPF 30 or higher is not totally useless. Using an adequate amount of primer with SPF 30 or higher before your foundation can act as your sunscreen while adding a bronzer with SPF will give you that extra protection. 

“Having more protection is never a bad thing,” said says Chiu. “Sometimes makeup rubs off, SPFs breakdown on the skin, etc., so having some backup is the safest!” Just make sure that the product offers broad-spectrum sun protection and keep in mind that sunscreen is not additive, meaning that if you layer an SPF 15 foundation over an SPF 30 sunscreen, you won’t get 45-level coverage.

The derms also recommend applying sunscreen before makeup. If you need to touch-up throughout the day, try a mineral powder SPF, which is – bonus – mattifying.

Or try wearing a “sunscreen topper,” like the Klavuu City Defense Tone – Change Cushion with SPF 50, is an easy way to re-apply sunscreen throughout the day. This SPF cushion doesn’t mess up existing foundation and it dries quickly after application.

A sunscreen like Acwell Aqua Capsule Sun Control Gel SPF 35 is very lightweight and absorbs quickly without leaving a white cast so it won’t suffocate your skin. Another summer-friendly option that we love is the non-greasy Neogen Day-Light Protection Sun Screen SPF 50.

Bottom Line

You can never be too protected from the sun, especially in the summer, so layer on that SPF. Always start with a proper sunscreen as a base, and consider that SPF-infused foundation icing on the proverbial cake. Also, use our suggestions to reapply your sunscreen throughout the day! We know it’s a pain, but your skin will thank you!

+ What are your favorite foundations with SPF? Share your picks below!

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