Is the SPF in My Foundation Enough? What a Dermatologist Wants You To Know

Photo: Getty Images/F.J. Jimenez
The importance of wearing sunscreen every day can’t be understated. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone wear sunscreen every single day (no matter what the weather) to protect against skin cancer and help prevent premature skin aging. To help get their daily does of sun protection, many people turn to makeup with SPF already in it—how can you resist a 2-in-1 product that provides makeup coverage plus sun protection? But is the SPF in foundation or other beauty products enough?

In theory, having sunscreen in your makeup product is great—especially considering a survey conducted by Sun Regrets found that only “19 percent of respondents wear sunscreen year-round, and 78 percent admit going outside on a sunny day without sunscreen.” With those numbers, it would be better to provide an option they’re more likely to wear, like SPF in their makeup…right?

Experts In This Article

The problem with SPF in foundation and makeup

Well, there are a few key problems with this line of defense: Primarily, the amount you’re applying and where you’re applying it, says Elizabeth K. Hale, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and spokesperson for Sun Regrets Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer Awareness campaign.

“According to the survey, a majority of the 2,000 people who responded missed applying sunscreen to their ears, lips, and scalp/hairline, which aren't areas a foundation or tinted moisturizer would likely be applied to,” Dr. Hale says. “Additionally, the issue with foundations and tinted moisturizers is not necessarily that the SPF is not high enough, but that people do not apply enough to achieve the recommended [amount required] to actually obtain the SPF stated on the bottle.” (Derms suggest apply a quarter-sized amount to your face alone, FYI.)

So, while having sunscreen in foundation is not a bad thing, the amount you would typically apply for cosmetic purposes isn’t enough to provide the protection that your skin needs. Instead, Dr. Hale recommends first applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen, and following that up with makeup or foundation on top. “Bonus if it contains additional SPF!” she says.

While there is nothing wrong with wearing a makeup product with sunscreen in it, it’s important to remember that that product alone will likely not give you the necessary protection against skin damage and skin cancer. Instead, invest in sunscreen that can be worn with or without makeup. Nowadays, there are fantastic options such as sunscreen serums and tinted sunscreens that provide adequate sun protection and layer beautifully underneath any makeup products—a total win-win.

The Wellness Intel You Need—Without the BS You Don't
Sign up today to have the latest (and greatest) well-being news and expert-approved tips delivered straight to your inbox.

Loading More Posts...