Double-Duty: Can You Mix Sunscreen with Foundation?

Published Categorized as Beauty Tips

Chances are, you already know that the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 30 SPF every single day. Protecting your skin from the sun helps prevent skin damage and premature aging, to say nothing of protecting you from skin cancer. But, if you are like a lot of women, you already have a skin care and beauty routine that includes moisturizers, foundations, serums, primers, and powders….where does sunscreen fit in? If you wear a moisturizer and a foundation with an SPF of 15, do they add up to 30? Can you mix sunscreen with foundation? How do you go about mixing sunscreen with foundation, then?

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Table of Contents

Can You Mix Sunscreen and Foundation?

The answer is no, you shouldn’t mix anything with a physical sunscreen.

While the thicker, mineral nature of physical sunscreens seems to invite mixing in a few drops of makeup, moisturizer, foundation, or other products to give it a smoother, silkier finish, the oils and emulsifiers in those products actually disrupt the mineral layer of your sunscreen, making it less effective.

Despite how it may feel under your fingers, mixing in other products prevents the minerals in sunscreen from forming a smooth, even layer that actually protects you from the sun.

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Where Does Sunscreen Fit into a Skincare or Makeup Regimen?

For the best results and the best protection, start with a physical sunscreen, rather than a chemical one.

Physical sunscreens contain minerals like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that physically block the sun’s rays from contacting the surface of the skin.

Look for a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide; it will block UVA and UVB rays, without interfering with makeup, and is safe and gentle for even sensitive skin.

Apply a physical sunscreen directly to clean, dry skin, before any other products like moisturizer, primer, or foundation.

In fact, a physical sunscreen is a decent primer, so you may choose to skip that step altogether. Don’t forget to apply it to your neck, upper chest, and ears.

RELATED: What is Face Primer Used For

After applying sunscreen, wait a few minutes before applying any other products. This allows your sunscreen to penetrate and set before applying anything else.

Hot tip: We love the Farmacy Green Daily Environmental Protector

Farmacy Green Screen Daily Environmental Protector - SPF30 Broad Spectrum Mineral Sunscreen
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It has a gentle formula of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide for great sun protection, but without a white cast so you’re camera-ready.

It also has echinacea to boost collagen production and promote healthy skin, along with antioxidants to protect the skin from damage from the blue light of electronic devices.

It gives light, non-chalky, non-greasy, odorless sun protection.

Does SPF Add Up?

The short answer: not really.

If you apply a foundation or BB cream with SPF 15 over a sunscreen of SPF 30, you don’t end up with SPF 45.

RELATED: Tinted Moisturizer vs BB Cream

In the best case, you will simply end up with the SPF of the higher product (in this case, SPF 30), and the doubling of products just helps compensate for any areas where the coverage is lighter.

But, in many cases, if you apply a foundation of any type over a sunscreen, you can disrupt the sunscreen layer, and end up with less SPF than you started with.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 100+, 3 fl. oz

Can You Just Use SPF Makeup and Skip the Sunscreen?

If your makeup has broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection, and an SPF of 30 or more, dermatologists say you can simply use that and skip the sunscreen, provided you apply touchups every 2-3 hours.

Hot tip: Try the Dermablend SPF 30 Full Coverage Foundation

Dermablend Cover Creme Full Coverage Cream Foundation with SPF 30, 1 oz
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For great coverage with sun protection that won’t irritate sensitive skin.

It has a broad-spectrum mineral SPF 30 formula, with coverage that lasts for up to 12 hours. Promises all day hydration, keeping skin fresh, soft and smooth.

How About Re-Applying Sunscreen?

You may have noticed that the labels on most sunscreens recommend re-applying every 2 hours. This recommendation should always be followed when out in the sun, swimming, or sweating heavily outdoors.

But of course, that’s unrealistic when you are wearing makeup; you aren’t going to remove all your makeup and start over every 2 hours.

Instead, touch up your makeup every 2 hours with a mineral powder with SPF, or dab on more BB cream with an SPF in it.

Hot tip: We love the CANMAKE Transparent Finish Powder

CANMAKE Transparent Finish Powder PN Pearl Natural
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For SPF 30 in a powder that gives you an oil-free, soft-focus finish. 

It is a pale, translucent setting powder that doesn’t leave you with a thick, cakey finish, and is a great way to bump up your SPF and keep your skin looking great all day long.

RELATED: Why Does My Foundation Look Cakey

Mixing Sunscreen with Foundation: Final Thoughts

Now you know all the answers to your most pressing sunscreen questions.

Apply a physical sunscreen before any other products, and give it a few minutes to set. Or skip the sunscreen layer, and use a makeup with physical sun protection in it, but never mix the two.

Apply a powder or touchup with more SPF every few hours throughout the day.
Keeping your skin fresh and healthy is easy as that!

Check out more sunscreen related posts on our blog!

What’s your experience on the subject of mixing sunscreen with foundation?

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  1. Thanks so much! Merging the two products in a single product is definitely more efficient and budget friendly!

  2. This is really useful, and I never knew that about suncream and foundation. I definitely think people are far better off using a bb cream with protection in it instead!

  3. They’re great alternatives to having to use both products, so you should check them out if you’re interested!

  4. Thanks for sharing that with us, Lisa! We’re happy to hear you found this post useful!

  5. This was really interesting! I have never tried mixing foundation with sunscreen. I do use a facial moisturizer all year that has an SPF. I didn’t realize there are foundations out there like the one you mentioned that have an SPF as high as 30. That’s great to know!

  6. I tend to use a sunscreen with zinc in it as I find it helps any spots on my cheeks but you’re right, it has to go first, before any moisturiser or make up. Mine is a very mattifying one so it’s a good primer too. Great post, lots of helpful tips, thank you! Lisa

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