Layer Your Sunscreen & Makeup Like a Pro This Summer With These 3 Tips

Plus, how often you should reapply SPF to stay safe in the sun.

Sunscreen and makeup
By May 23, 2022

If your skincare goals for summer 2022 are to be safely bronzed — but not burnt! — and to learn how to layer your sunscreen and makeup, you’re not alone. Most of us can’t get enough of that healthy summer glow! But it’s important to stay safe and protect your skin while you’re in the summer sun. Going outside in the summer doesn’t have to be a struggle if you enjoy wearing makeup, since you can layer sunscreen and makeup in the sun with ease.

Playbook spoke to New York City-based board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Debra Jaliman, M.D., to talk about all things sunscreen and makeup. The number one rule Dr. Jaliman shared is the importance of wearing sunscreen every single day, regardless of the season — no exceptions.

“Even if you go outside for one minute or you are sitting inside by an open window, you need sunscreen,” Dr. Jaliman says.

Makeup and sunscreen may seem like they do not work well when applied together, but you can achieve the ultimate smooth-skinned, glowy makeup look you desire with ease. Keep reading for tips for seamless application so you can stay feeling confident and safe in the sun this summer.

3 Tips For Layering Sunscreen & Makeup

1. Be Mindful of Ingredients

When shopping for sunscreen, Dr. Jaliman recommends looking for an SPF with a good concentration of zinc or titanium oxide as a general rule of thumb. These ingredients are key when you want to apply makeup over your sunscreen, as these types of SPF go onto the skin smoothly, she says.

Zinc oxide is an FDA-approved ingredient found in sunscreen that sits on the outermost layer of your skin. It scatters, absorbs, and reflects harmful rays to protect your skin. Titanium dioxide acts similarly to zinc oxide, as it sits on the skin's surface and reflects harmful rays off the face to protect the skin. In many sunscreens products, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are used together to protect against both harmful UVA and UVB rays.

“I tell people to look for a high zinc or titanium oxide concentration [in sunscreen products]. You just want to look at the numbers — 10% to 12% zinc is a good concentration,” Dr. Jaliman says. “[To test the concentration], you can just put a little on your hand, and if it absorbs quickly and it’s not sticky, then it's good for [using with] makeup.”

2. Apply Your Products in the Proper Order

While you may think your SPF should be the very last thing you apply to your face for the most protection, according to Dr. Jaliman, “sunscreen goes on before the makeup.” She says you will still get the full protection of your sunscreen under your makeup.

Apply your sunscreen as the very last step in your skincare routine and before you apply makeup. A good skincare routine involves cleanser, serum, moisturizer, and finally, SPF, in that order, according to Dr. Jaliman. You want to apply your sunscreen as the very last step in your skincare routine in order for it to work to the best of its ability, she says.

3. Reapply With Powder Sunscreen

Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, and when you are spending time in the sun, it’s particularly essential to reapply often to stay safe and keep your skin healthy. However, this may become a struggle when wearing makeup as you don’t want to apply a heavy cream-like SPF atop a full face of makeup.

Powder sunscreen is the ideal solution, according to Dr. Jaliman. Sunscreens in powder form — think the same texture as a setting powder — come with a built-in brush for easy application, and you can just throw it in your purse or beach bag and go.

“If you have makeup on and you want to reapply your makeup, I think powder sunscreen is the best option because you can just dot it over your makeup,” Dr. Jaliman says.

Every two hours, dust powder sunscreen over your makeup for a seamless finish that will keep you protected all day long — without ruining your makeup.

Bonus Tip: Always Use More SPF Than You Think You Need

When it comes to wearing sunscreen, the more, the merrier, says Dr. Jaliman.

“Apply more [sunscreen] than you think you need. More is better, and you can always blot off [any excess] if you have extra,” Dr. Jaliman says.

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