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13th April 2017

How to wear sunscreen with makeup

With the layers of serums, moisturisers, foundations, bronzers and highlights; it can feel like there could be nothing worse than having to add another layer to your beauty regime. 

Many of us, however, are missing out an important step that is essential for protecting our skin and fighting premature ageing: sunscreen. So, do you really need to wear sunscreen with your makeup, and how should you apply it? Here, we go in depth about wearing sunscreen with makeup, covering tips, tricks and all the benefits.

How Often Do You Need to Wear Sunscreen?

It’s sunny and you might sit out for a while at lunch, so you should put some sunscreen on, right? Well, not quite. You should be wearing sunscreen every day if you want to protect your skin against the harmful effects of the sun[1]. Even on a grey day the sun can damage your skin, as clouds only block some of the sun’s harmful UV rays. This can leave you vulnerable to developing sun-related problems such as pigmentation, premature ageing, wrinkles, and even skin cancers[2]. To protect yourself from these risks, it’s important to wear sunscreen every day, whatever the weather. Not only will this stop your skin from ageing prematurely, it could even prevent you from developing life-threatening cancer.

Why Should You Wear Sunscreen with Makeup?

If you wear a moisturiser or foundation with SPF, does that mean you don’t need to wear sunscreen? No, it does not. Makeup and skincare are unreliable when it comes to sun protection, with many offering just SPF 15, even if you apply it completely evenly and touch it up constantly as it comes off throughout the day. To get proper sun protection, you should apply sunscreen underneath your cosmetics. At SunSense, we recommend that your sunscreen should be SPF 50/50+ and broad spectrum to make sure you are protected against both UVA and UVB rays. Then you can apply your normal face of makeup over the top without having to worry about whether or not you are protected.

Will Sunscreen Make Your Skin Look Bad?

Many people are reluctant to apply sunscreen every day because they are worried that it will make their skin look greasy or cause them to break out. However, if you choose the right sunscreen it shouldn’t leave your face greasy or shiny at all. In fact, many facial sunscreens make a good base product, giving your makeup a smoother and more even appearance. Sunscreens that do not contain oil are your friend if you’re prone to breakouts, as they will not overload the skin or cause the pores to become clogged.

Which Sunscreen Should You Choose?

So, you’ve decided you should probably introduce sunscreen into your daily routine. Next, you need to choose the right product for your skin type, so you can be sure it will sit well with your makeup and look after your skin as it provides protection against the effects of the sun. If you struggle with dry skin, pick a sunscreen that has a moisturising base, whilst avoiding alcohol-based sprays and gels that can dry out the skin. For combination and oily skin, look for sunscreens that are marked as oil-free and have a light formula. Choose a facial sunscreen with a matte finish if you wish to avoid the shiny appearance people often associate with thick sunscreen cream formulas. For skin that is prone to breakouts, sunscreens that are non-comedogenic will be less likely to block your pores and cause spots. No matter what your skin type, there is a sunscreen that will suit your skin for daily use.

How Should You Apply It?

Sunscreen should be applied after cleansing, but before any of your other skincare products if you wish to get maximum sun protection. It is important to apply it directly on to clean skin, so it can be properly absorbed and provide you with full protection. Similarly, it is important to allow it to dry for a few minutes before you apply your next product, so it can really penetrate the skin. If you choose the right facial sunscreen it should provide a good base for you to apply your usual makeup over the top. If you are likely to be sweating or swimming you should reapply your sunscreen every two hours, or after you have got wet, so bear this in mind if you’re planning to head to the gym at lunchtime. For those who aren’t planning any physical exertion, your sunscreen should last between four and six hours.

[1] Cancer Research UK. When do I need to protect myself? [Internet] [updated 2014 Feb 17; cited 2017 March 27]. Available from: UV-the-sun-and-skincancer/when-do-i-need-to-protect-myself/

[2] Flament F, Bazin R, Laquieze, Rubert V, Simonpietri E, Piot. B. Effect of the sun on visible clinical signs of aging in Caucasian skin. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol 2013;6: 221-232.


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