BY: LBL Team

Why the SPF in Your Makeup Isn’t Enough to Protect You

How to protect your skin from sun damage

You want to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful effects. That’s why you always reach for SPF primers, foundations, powders, and bronzers. While your effort is totally commendable, sorry to disappoint. This may come as a real shocker to some, but the SPF in your makeup is just no substitute for actual sunscreen. Here’s why.

SPF found in makeup often only protects against UVB rays

Though wearing makeup with SPF is better than not wearing any sunscreen at all, most SPF found in makeup usually only protects against UVB rays — and not UVA rays, too. UVA rays go through your car and home windows, all the clouds, and snow, causing significant damage to the skin. In fact, UVA radiation causes more aging and skin cancer than UVB. So, if your makeup isn’t protecting you from UVA in addition to UVB, you’re still at risk of premature aging and cancer.

You simply can’t wear enough makeup to get adequate sun protection

The second issue with solely relying on makeup containing SPF is that there’s just no way you are wearing enough of it to get the sun protection your skin needs to fend off free radicals. Forget caking on extra makeup — you’d need to layer on makeup as much as 15 times thicker than you’d typically wear it to actually protect your skin the way regular sunscreen does. For most of us (unless you’re a professional clown), this just isn’t feasible. Unless you’re going to slather on a ton of SPF foundation, and you’re obviously not going to, it’s not really worth it.

The SPF found in makeup is mostly chemical

You may be limited in the types of sunscreen available to you in makeup products, which tend to use chemical sunscreens. This is because they typically mix better into makeup formulations. Physical sunscreen agents, like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are more challenging to incorporate into cosmetics, but dermatologists tend to prefer them for comprehensive skin protection.

Always use a true SPF

Skincare experts agree that, for real protection from UV rays, you should use plenty of actual sunscreen and reapply it throughout the day as needed. Use a product in the morning that contains at least an SPF of 30 or higher. Allow it to soak into your skin for a few minutes before putting on foundation and concealer. There are even SPF skincare products that combine the sun protection benefits of traditional sunscreen with the look and feel of a BB cream, like LaserAway Beauty BFF SPF 50, which hydrates skin while offering broad-spectrum protection against harmful UVA and UVB rays, oxidative stress, and pollution.

Bottom line: makeup doesn’t provide enough coverage. For real protection against both UVA and UVB rays, you have to apply actual sunscreen liberally and reapply throughout the day.

  1. “Sorry, the SPF in Your Makeup is Not Enough to Protect You From the Sun,” Self, September 3, 2018.
  2. “Sunscreen and Your Makeup Routine,” WebMD, n.d.
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