What We Should Know About SPF Makeup, According To Industry Experts

A girl with SPF makeup on her face posing for a photo

While we try to be diligent with our skincare routine, there are times when we will hit the snooze button too many times and end up cutting a few corners in our morning routine. We know we should never skip our AM sunscreen, but sometimes even our fast-absorbing formulas aren’t quick enough. Besides, with our plethora of SPF-infused makeup products, we’re technically covered, right? Well, according to industry experts, not always. We spoke to a few pros on the realities of relying solely on SPF makeup.


Serious About SPF

Is Your SPF High Enough?

While there are many seemingly great SPF-infused primers, foundations and powders, Dr. Lamees Hamdan, Founder and CEO of Shiffa, explains, “If you are serious about your SPF protection, then you need to make sure your makeup provides at least 30 or above." Hamdan adds that while most people believe and SPF of 15 will suffice in city settings, in truth, a greater SPF provides the actual needed amount of protection to prevent damage.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, "In vitro tests have shown that SPF 15 sunscreens filter out 93 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 30 protects against 97 percent and SPF 50 98 percent. But remember, it is important for the sunscreen to include broad-spectrum protection that also shields adequately against UVA."

When In Doubt, Double Up

Usually, less is more, except for when it comes to sun protection, which gets problematic when you’re only relying on SPF makeup formulas. Tammy Yaiser, VP Product Development at Algenist points out, "the challenge with SPF in your makeup is that most people do not apply the proper amount of sunscreen to achieve the full SPF benefits. Instead, I prefer applying a base of sunscreen then following with SPF foundation for extra coverage.” Indeed, studies have shown that doubling up on your protection can indeed reduce your chances of overexposure so, going overboard is a good thing here.

Another thing to note: Yaiser warns, "that a primer with SPF 15 and a foundation with SPF 30 doesn't equal a protection force of 45. SPF isn't an equation, so your protection is only as strong as the highest formula used."

Be Liberal With Your Application

Now we aren’t saying you need to stop using your favorite SPF foundation or concealer but, as Tammy comments, whether you prefer liquid or powder formulas, “be sure to apply a liberal amount—at least a teaspoon's worth—to get the full benefits of the intended SPF protection.” Again, if you're on the fence or questioning your amount of protection, refer to our previous tip and layer a solid sunscreen underneath or over to ensure you're covered.

Certain Products Can Work Against You

Additionally, if you are using tea tree oil or lavender in your daily routine, you need to avoid “cinnamate-based SPF formulas, as they will counteract these botanicals and cause irritation and redness,” states Dr. Carl Thornfledt, clinical dermatologist and founder of Epionce Skincare.

Reapplying Is Key

On top of not using the proper amount, reapplication also becomes a problem. Dr. Rebecca Baxt, Board Certified Dermatologist with Zwivel.com, reminds us that “sunscreen only lasts a few hours, and just because your makeup lasts all day doesn’t mean that your sunscreen protection does, too.” To ensure no new damage happens, you should reapply every 90 minutes. Now we know this can present a problem in retaining a flawless, untouched makeup look, so she recommends keeping an SPF powder on hand for protection, (which is also an easy way to touch up shiny areas). You can also invest in an SPF-infused setting spray to spritz on every few hours for a regular dose of protection.