Should I Apply Sunscreen Before or After Makeup? Dermatologist Tips

 Hmmm… This sounds like a million dollar question to you, right? I mean, that’s the only possible reason why you’re reading this article at this moment. Maybe someone asked you for advice about the topic, and you realized that you hadn’t really considered it as something important, so now you’re also looking for answers. Anyway, you’re in the right place, so welcome and get ready to be enlightened.

So, you probably know the various reasons behind applying sunscreen- protection from UV rays, preventing premature skin aging (no one wants to be 20 with an 80 year old skin), skin burns, skin cancer, and to help maintain an even skin tone (black and brown patches are signs of bad skin health). You definitely know the reasons for applying makeup – to amp your beauty, slay harder, and look ‘peng’ when you step out. However, what happens when these two different topical substances come in contact with each other? What’s the effect of the combination of these two topical substances on the skin and sun protection factor (SPF)? Should sunscreen application come before or after makeup? Or can they be mixed and applied at once?

There’s no need to go crazy over makeup and sunscreen. The idea is quite simple: Many cosmetic products often have ingredients that make them SPF-15 and above. The reason is because many of these cosmetic products have certain ingredients that help deal with UV radiation. Zinc oxide (about 5% of it), titanium oxide, and avobenzone for example, help bounce off Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB) off the skin, and they are a common ingredients in many cosmetic products. However, SPF-15 does not offer much protection under intense sun rays. That is why dermatologists suggest that you need a stronger (SPF-30) sunscreen to protect your skin from UV ray hazards. Adding some makeup to sunscreen definitely amps your sun protection, but you cannot totally rely on these cosmetic products to do the job of protecting your skin alone.

When should I apply my sunscreen, before or after makeup?


Dermatologists say when it comes to sunscreen and makeup application, it is best to apply the sunscreen first before makeup. In other words, make your sunscreen the foundation for your foundation (no pun intended). Applying the sunscreen on the bare skin underneath the makeup confers maximum protection from UV rays, and this goes for moisturizers and other skincare products too. Plus, sunscreen provides a better and smooth area/base for whatever cosmetic products you’ll be applying.

What level of SPF is the safest?

Dermatologists suggest that if you don’t spend a lot of time outdoors, SPF-15 should protect you well enough from harmful sun-rays. However, if you spend most of your day in the sun, SPF-15 won’t do much to protect you. Your next best option is a SPF-3O. An SPF-15 sunscreen basically confers protection 15 times higher that it’d be without any sunscreen, while an SPF-30 sunscreen confers protection 30 times higher than it’d be without any sunscreen. SPF-15 sunscreens can protect you by blocking 93% of harmful UV radiation, while SPF-30 sunscreens can block about 97% of harmful UV radiation. These numbers may not seem quite far from each other, but they matter, especially if you find yourself in the sun for an extended amount of time.

Note: UV radiation will still succeed in passing through the sunscreen and penetrate through your skin, and the SPF level of your sunscreen will come in handy to prevent skin burns

Dermatologist tips on sunscreen and makeup application

  1. For the umpteenth time, apply the sunscreen before makeup. It allows for even distribution and maximum protection against harmful sun rays.
  2. Buy sunscreen specially designed for facial application, and apply a primer after on top of it.
  3. Keep sunscreen and cosmetics with ingredients that cause your skin to react away from your skin. You might experience the same skin conditions you are try to prevent or cover with the sunscreen and cosmetics.
  4. Choose cosmetic products with SPF-15 and above to use with your SPF-30 sunscreen.
  5. Make sure you apply the sunscreen all over your face, but don’t rub it in! Rubbing in sunscreen is one of the most common mistakes of sunscreen application, but what many people don’t know is that it might cause wrinkles, and offer uneven sun protection. Only evenly rub the sunscreen, until it disappears from your skin.
  6. Reapply sunscreen every couple of hours (about 2-3 hours) if you’ll be swimming, sweating, or if you got caught in a rainstorm. If you won’t be getting wet, you can leave your sunscreen for up to hours, after which you’ll have to reapply.
  7. Wait for a few minutes for the sunscreen to set before applying makeup.
  8. Even if you are wearing makeup, you have to gently pat the sunscreen all over your face to reapply.
  9. Apply sunscreen before getting dressed. This will prevent forgetting to apply sunscreen to the back of your neck, top part of your hands and feet, bare scalp, and around the eyes.
  10. Combining or layering two or more SPF products will not increase your level of sun protection to the equivalent of their combination. In other words, SPF-15 sunscreen + SPF-15 makeup will not give SGF-30 sun protection.


Understand that the answers to these questions are based on protecting your skin from UV radiation. Yea, looking good is great and all, but you shouldn’t be looking good at the risk of cancer, rashes, spots, burns, wrinkles, and other hazards of direct exposure to sun rays.

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