Should I apply sunscreen or foundation first?

Q: I wear all over makeup over a layer of sunscreen every day. Does this reduce my UV protection?

The key to reducing your risk of skin cancer, sun spots and wrinkles from sun damage is incorporating sunscreen into your daily routine, and applying it — and reapplying it — correctly.

Dr. said. Nikhil Dingra, MD, a dermatologist at Spring Street Dermatology in New York City: No matter how much foundation, concealer, blush, or highlighter you apply during your makeup routine, you’ll still be protected from the sun—as long as you follow a few. steps.

One important way to ensure that you are truly protected from harmful UV rays is to apply your sunscreen as the last step in your skincare routine in the morning, but before you start applying any makeup.

Chemical sunscreens contain filters that sink into the skin and absorb UV rays, while physical (or mineral) sunscreens are placed over the skin and diffuse UV rays. Because of these processes, sunscreen is most effective when applied directly to clean skin.

After washing your face in the morning and applying any skin care products, such as toners, serums, moisturizers, or oils, apply sunscreen. Dermatologists recommend an SPF of at least 30.

Studies have found that people generally do not use enough sunscreen for adequate protection. Dr. said. Amanda Doyle, MD, a dermatologist at the Russack Dermatology Clinic in New York City. You need about a milligram of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin to achieve a stated sun protection factor, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Since everyone is different, this may mean more or less sunscreen depending on the size of your face. To make application a little easier, Tiara Willis, a New York beauty expert, recommends Two-finger rule (Pad the length of your middle and index finger with sunscreen) to measure an ample amount of sunscreen for your face and neck.

Before applying any makeup over sunscreen, give it at least two minutes to sink into the skin. Avoid touching your face during this time. Dr. Adding makeup too soon can dilute the sunscreen or react with the ingredients, making them ineffective, said Kieran Mian, MD, a dermatologist at Hudson Dermatology & Laser Surgery in New York City.

Think of applying sunscreen like room paint: Apply it in a thick, even layer, then give it enough time to dry before touching up or decorating. Dr. Mian suggested doing something like brushing your eyebrows after applying sunscreen to keep yourself busy in the meantime. If the base of the sunscreen is dried and applied properly, the ingredients in your makeup should not negatively affect your SPF.

Many foundations, beauty balms, and color-correcting creams contain sunscreen, which can seem like a convenient way to protect your skin without compromising your makeup routine. However, makeup with an SPF is not enough as a single sunscreen option because you’ll need to use a lot of it—more than most people normally use for their daily look—to effectively protect your skin.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to add SPF to your makeup, because when it comes to sunscreen, more is more. One study published in 2021 concluded that applying makeup over sunscreen enhances complete sun protection. This is because all cosmetics, even products without a built-in SPF, contain filters similar to those in physical sunscreens, which can provide additional protection if the base layer of sunscreen is insufficient.

Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours or after swimming or sweating. Even sitting near a window while working requires re-application, as the glass does not block UVA or UVB rays significantly. Reapplying is usually as simple as smearing another layer of sunscreen, but it can be more difficult when you’re applying makeup.

Somewhat disappointing news: There aren’t enough studies to prove how effective reapplying SPF is over makeup. And there’s reason to believe it’s not perfect, because we know that sunscreen is most effective when applied as close to the skin as possible and because it’s hard to put enough sunscreen over makeup to be protective. Dr. said. Cula Svidzinski, MD, medical director of the Skin of Color Center at Mount Sinai Medical Center, you’ll need to apply a teaspoon of sunscreen powder to your face to reach the advertised SPF.

SPF setting sprays, and sunscreen sprays in general, are attractive for easy application, but the truth is that they still need to be rubbed into the skin to provide adequate coverage from the sun, negating the supposed relief.

Also, keep in mind that SPF is not cumulative. Dr. says. Mian said.

So, what should you do? Experts say you should use any method that will encourage you to reapply your sunscreen, as long as you realize you probably won’t be getting the full advertised SPF. Whether you’re reapplying sunscreen, drenching your face in an SPF fixing spray or spraying sunscreen on the back of your hand and layering on your makeup, even a little SPF is better than nothing, the experts said.

Kyra Blackwell is a writer for Wirecutter covering health and sleep. Her work has previously been published in Okayplayer Magazine, The Knockturnal, and Nylon.

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