Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Sunscreen is not just for the summer or the day time or the beach, lake, park, hot weather, cold weather, blah, blah, blah. Sunscreen is for every day, all day, all year round. Sunscreen will protect you from wrinkles, brown spots, and cancer!

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the not so obvious, cut and dry topic… makeup and sunscreen.

“I get questions about sunscreen, and makeup and foundation with sunscreen at least once a week, and more often in the summer,” said Dr. Karen Gaskell, Owner and Medical Director here at Camas Medspa in Washington.

Questions like – What level of protection do you really need? Should you reapply? Is SPF in your foundation enough? Should I apply my sunscreen under my makeup? We could go on and on so here to help, Dr. Gaskell gives us the answers we all need to know.


No sunscreen blocks 100% of UV rays, but SPF 30 is the simple answer and it blocks about 97%. You can go to 50 SPF, but that will just give you an additional 1% blockage.

I suggest using a physical sunscreen which contains Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide rather than a chemical sunscreen. (see latest FDA report here

Physical sunscreens are great if you have sensitive skin and they act as a nice primer under foundation.


You would think that is all you would need, right? Nope.

“Makeup that contains sunscreen has been notoriously inconsistent when it comes to good SPF. Even if you do apply it all over your face evenly, you will probably miss important places like your neck, chest, ears. Makeup also comes off easily during the day taking away your SPF protection. You want to wear sunscreen underneath your foundation and it actually provides a better base for your makeup application,” says Dr. Gaskell. 

Dr. Gaskell also suggests to make sure you get a generous even layer of sunscreen on your face before applying any cosmetic products and to wait a few minutes to let the sunscreen settle in to your skin.  

What are the rules about reapplying  my sunscreen during the day?

“If you’re sweating or swimming, reapply sunscreen every two hours, however if you are just going about your day and not getting wet you can reapply it every 4-6 hours” says Dr. Gaskell.

“If you don’t have your makeup arsenal with you and cannot clean your face before reapplying your sunscreen and then putting on your makeup again, which I realize most women won’t do, you can put sunscreen on top of your foundation. Most of us touch up our makeup at different times during the day as it starts to wear off, so take those opportunities to reapply your sunscreen as well.”

Another idea would be to grab some foundation powder if you don’t want to keep layering on the foundation, it’s a great option for the hot summer days!

So, sunscreen UNDER your foundation (not part of it), reapply as needed and remember ultimately protecting your skin from cancer is worth those few extra minutes added to your makeup routine!