Skincare » How to Apply Sunscreen on Face (with and Without Makeup)

How to Apply Sunscreen on Face (with and Without Makeup)

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Facial sunscreen can protect us from all of the evil the sun can do to our skin, being especially an important step in your summer skincare routine. No matter the season and the weather, it’s important to know how to apply sunscreen on face properly and combine it with makeup if you decide to wear it. In this article, we bring in the best sunscreen tips to keep your face protected.

Importance of Wearing Face Sunscreen

While only sunburns are readily apparently, there are two other long-term concerns: premature aging, and skin cancer. The latter is obviously much worse than the former, but I know that sometimes vanity is a much better motivator than death.

The sun’s rays do damage to our skin, no matter how dark it is. While melanin (the chemical in the skin that makes it appear darker) does contain a natural SPF, it is not high enough to fully protect from all of the sun’s dangers.

While many sunscreens protect from sunburn (that’s what the SPF measures, after all), it is important to find a face sunscreen that will also protect from long-term damage to the skin like pigmentation and sunspots, and will also mitigate the sun’s carcinogenic effect.

Should I Worry About Vitamin D Deficiency?

As you may already know, exposure to UVB rays stimulates the production of vitamin D in our bodies. Because of that, some people have raised concern over whether using a sunscreen will cause vitamin D deficiency.

While this is possible in theory, studies that have been conducted have not shown a correlation between sunscreen use and vitamin D deficiency – perhaps because of imperfect sunscreen applications, or perhaps because there are more factors involved.

Since the cancer risks associated with sun exposure are extremely dangerous (more dangerous than vitamin D deficiency), it is better to wear a sunscreen. If you are concerned about vitamin D deficiency, talk to your doctor about taking a supplement.

How to Apply Face Sunscreen

Once you have realized the importance of wearing a face sunscreen on a daily basis, it’s high time to learn how to apply it and how to combine your face sunscreen with makeup.

  1. Cleanse

    Always start with a clean face. Use a gentle facial cleanser to remove sweat and impurities from your skin.

  2. Apply Your Skincare

    Follow up with your usual skincare routine: toners, skin serums, face moisturizers, etc. If your face sunscreen is very emollient, or if you moisturizer has an SPF, you can simply enjoy the two-in-one and skip your non-SPF moisturizer.

  3. Know How Much to Apply

    For your sunscreen to be effective, you have to apply at least a quarter teaspoon of it to your face. I find the easiest way to do this is in two applications of an ⅛ of a teaspoon.

  4. Apply Gently

    Gently rub the sunscreen into your skin, in circular upward motions. Don’t rub in too hard, or the sunscreen might end up coming off onto your hands. After your skin absorbed the first ⅛ teaspoon (it might take a minute or two), apply the second ⅛ teaspoon.

  5. Give It Time to Set

    Wait a few moments for the sunscreen to mostly set on your skin. Now you may apply your makeup.

  6. Avoid Primer

    It is better to forego face primer when wearing sunscreen, since it may weaken the efficacy of your sunscreen. Choose a face sunscreen with silicone that can double as a primer.

  7. Apply foundation

    Apply your foundation with gentle motions, either lightly stippling it in, or brushing it in downward motions. Do not over-blend or over-work it – you might end up removing some of your face sunscreen.

  8. Powder up

    If you use powder, make sure to apply it in a tapping motion.

Reapplying Face Sunscreen Throughout the Day

As your sunscreen is exposed to the sun’s rays, it absorbs them and deteriorates. This means that on days when you spend most of your time outdoors, you must reapply your face sunscreen every hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours.

However, on days where you spend most of your time indoors, your initial morning sunscreen application will last a pretty long time, since you are not dealing with the same level. Before going outside you might still want to refresh your sunscreen, even if a cumulative 2 hours haven’t necessarily passed.

Reapplying Face Sunscreen over Makeup

If you wore makeup, obviously you can’t refresh your sunscreen with a cream-based product. For a day where you’ll be spending most of your time in the sun, it is better to skip the makeup altogether, since applying the adequate amount of sunscreen on top of makeup can be difficult.

However, you can still lightly strengthen your sun protection face by using either a makeup setting spray with SPF, like the Coola Setting Spray with SPF 30 (available at Sephora), or a face powder with SPF like the bareMinerals Mineral Veil Broad Spectrum with SPF 25 (available at Sephora).

How to Remove Face Sunscreen

Since the purpose of a face sunscreen is to create a hard-to-remove film over the skin, cleansing it off might require a little bit more work. However, it is still important to remove facial sunscreens at night, so that the skin can take its dose of nighttime nourishment.

The easiest way to remove sunscreen is with an oil-based cleanser. With an oil-based cleanser, you can take your time massaging your skin and really breaking down every bit of sunscreen (as well as makeup, dirt, and sweat) without irritating your skin.

You can remove the cleanser, along with all that sunscreen, either with a microfiber cloth, cotton pads, or facial sponges. If you have oily skin, you can follow it up with an oil-free cleanser. Remember to take care of your skin when you are all clean, with toners, serums, and moisturizers.

Other Sun Protection Tips

  • Face sunscreens are great, but an opaque wide-brimmed hat will help go the extra mile to protect your facial skin.
  • Apply your sunscreen before you leave the house, and give it enough time to sink in and form a film over your face (about 10-20 minutes).
  • Never mix your sunscreen with a moisturizer or foundation – you can seriously impact your sunscreen’s protective ability, even with the tiniest drop.
  • Remember, your sunscreen should always be the last step in your skincare routine! That is why a sunscreen that doubles as a primer is the best way to go.
  • Don’t forget your lips! Facial sunscreens don’t really cover the lips as well, so use a lip balm or chapstick with an SPF, like the Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm with SPF 25 (available at Nordstrom).
Sun Protection Tips

What’s your favorite face sunscreen? Do you have any amazing sun protection tips? Any awful sunburn stories? Share them with us, by commenting!

Photos via @beautylookbook