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How to Use Makeup to Protect Your Skin from the Sun

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Remember the old adage to 'let your skin breathe', or that going natural once in a while is good for your skin? There is one thing your skin never needs a break from - SPF. When it comes to SPF, it can be tempting to take shortcuts or assume that a break every now and then won't hurt.

After all, it doesn't seem like an important part of your makeup routine with its clear appearance and fast absorption. However, even on days that you're going makeup free or embracing the popular natural aesthetic with ‘barely there’ makeup and nude colourings, understanding the importance of SPF is a non-negotiable. 

The rise of the bare-faced, nude skin look is excellent for promoting better beauty standards and self-acceptance. Applying facial sunscreen every day will make you feel even more confident in a fresh face, knowing you are protected from premature ageing and sun damage.

While wearing makeup with added protection for your skin is a wonderful thing, there are a few steps you can take to up the ante on proper protection to keep your skin safe. 

5 Ways to protect your skin using makeup

The skin cancer specialists at SunDoctors have compiled five important tips that will help you effectively shield your skin from uv radiation and sun damage.

1. Understand SPF 

sunscreen in a baby's palm

Makeup with added SPF can be a lifesaver on days when you're rushing out the door or looking for some light coverage for a day spent at home or the beach. Sunscreen is still required as a base coat under your makeup, even if it has SPF 50+. This is due to the nature of how SPF levels are determined.

Sun protection factor (SPF) is determined by dividing the amount of solar uv radiation needed to cause reddening by the amount that causes reddening without sun protection. This is based on a calculation of 2 milligrams of sunscreen for each square centimetre of your face skin. When it comes to the SPF in makeup, it is not concentrated and often diluted by other ingredients. More so, it is highly unlikely that you will apply the 2 milligrams needed for adequate sun protection. 

A tinted sunscreen will allow you to achieve the effortless, natural look you're after while experiencing enough protection. Just ensure it has broad spectrum protection with the sunscreen ingredients, such as zinc oxide, more prominent than anything else in the formula. 

2. Apply makeup on top of your sunscreen 

Woman applying powder foundation over face sunscreen

Makeup formulas with added sun protection factors are becoming increasingly available, along with tinted sunscreen such as the Cancer Council Daywear BB Tinted SPF 50+. However, broad spectrum sunscreen can also act as a primer under your makeup if you let it sink in before applying your foundation. These sunscreens are usually suitable for blotting over makeup as well.

Reapplying sunscreen every two hours is an important part of total skin care; however, this can be difficult with a full face of makeup. There are SPF30+ options in a loose powder to use over the top of your makeup. Just ensure they are lightweight, chemical-free mineral blends like this protective skin product from Colorescience.

Curious about applying sunscreen in powdered form? Learn more about powdered sunscreens.

3. Choose the right facial sunscreen

Cancer council BB Cream matte light tint

Not all sunscreens are made equal, nor are moisturisers with SPF. Many formulas suit different complexions, with added benefits for particular skin issues or sensitivities. If you're prone to acne or have sensitive skin, don't just grab the first tube you see.

If you have normal skin, look for a formula tailored for the face, which will help prevent cakey-looking makeup or t-zone acne breakouts. Even better if the sunscreen has hydrating properties and added zinc oxide for broad-spectrum coverage.

4. Apply at the right time 

Applying sunscreen on hands

Skincare routines are as prominent as sourdough recipes after years spent in lockdown. Whether it’s from people having more time up their sleeves, or an aftereffect of seeing themselves on video chat so often, people are suddenly much more interested in their skin health.

A Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology study revealed that 58% of people report spending more time on daily skincare than before the pandemic. Furthermore, 90% of them will continue these habits into the future. This is great for clean skin and open pores; however, a study by Advanced Dermatology revealed that only 29% of people use sunscreen on their face ‘most of the time’.

If your daily summer skincare routine doesn't include sun safe products, look for products with SPF added into them. Apply sunscreen after cleansing and before other products for the best coverage. Don't forget your ears, nose, back of your neck and chest, and pack your loose powder for reapplication every 2 hours. 

5. Be smart about your exposure 

couple walking on the beach

Managing your sun exposure carefully is essential whether you're slathered in sunscreen or wearing makeup with added SPF. Some further steps you can take for peace of mind and protection include:

  • Seek shade during peak hours of sunlight 
  • Build a gazebo in your yard or bring an umbrella to the beach 
  • Cover up with long sleeves, pants, and a hat! 
  • Avoid standing in front of reflective, UV doubling surfaces such as bright white sand and glistening water (as tempting as it may be)
  • Don't use expired sunscreen and reapply sunscreen every 2 hours to protect against harmful uv rays
  • Reapply every 2 hours 
  • Use your local UV radiation index to time your outings 
  • Never miss your annual skin check to catch any warning signs or changes on your skin 

SPF is the only skincare you need

Woman applying SPF sunscreen on arm by the beach

When it comes down to it, you can have every skincare product under the sun, but without SPF the rest of your work will be rendered moot. You can work hard to have a natural face, embracing the ‘barely there’ nude look, but neglect SPF - and you will be speeding up the ageing process and damaging your skin. Applying SPF under your makeup doesn't need to be difficult or time-consuming. In fact, it can help your skin stay healthy and acne free over time.

Unfortunately, we see thousands of patients every year who are suffering the results of a life spent without SPF. We're excited about the future of skincare and makeup as both industries accept the importance of sun protection. To kick off your skincare regime with peace of mind and certainty, book your skin check with Sun Doctors today

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