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You have made a habit of wearing sunscreen daily, you have figured out which filters work best for your skin type and you know how much exactly you need to cover your face and neck (if not have a read here), and now on top of that you are told you need to reapply regularly? Even over the full face of makeup you wear to the office?
How exactly are you supposed to do that if taking everything off and starting again from scratch isn’t an option? And I get you, I wouldn’t do that multiple times a day either. So here are five different ways to make that work, depending on your skin type, your personal preference and the amount of makeup you are wearing.
You need to know this before you start to reapply sunscreen over makeup
- The ways shown here are meant to touch up your sunscreen throughout a regular workday. They are not meant to protect you when you are spending time at the beach or hiking – if you do that, you really need to apply a thick layer of waterproof sunscreen, no matter how uncomfortable.
I sincerely hope though you refrain from wearing a heavy layer of foundation for those activities anyway.
- You need to make sure that your first layer of sun protection, the one you apply in the mornings, offers good protection. Use a high protection factor (SPF 50 ideally, but at least SPF 30), reach for broad spectrum so you get UVA protection (read more about that here) and make sure you apply enough of it (read here how much that is)!
This first layer determines how well your protection will be throughout the day – you can’t build a strong wall on a faulty foundation.
- Reapplying sunscreen, which is meant to be a film former, on top of the sweat, makeup and dirt already accumulated on your face will increase the risk of breakouts and clogged pores.
But breakouts don’t happen within a few hours, so as long as you make sure you have a good cleansing routine in place in the evenings, you will reduce that risk.
I have shared my thoughts on Double Cleansing here, but the sweaty summer months when I reapply sunscreen over makeup several times a day is when I actually do recommend it.
With that out of the way, here are five different ways to reapply your sunscreen over makeup, listed from my least favorite to the best one I found.
For those that only wear a light base
This one actually feels a little like cheating, but as it is the one I use most frequently, I knew I needed to include it.
In the summertime, I go for a light base, think powder foundation, BB Cream, just something to even out my skin tone a little. Does that conceal all my imperfections and make my skin look flawless? No, but I have grown into my skin enough to not be bothered by that.
Well, most of these lighter bases tend to lose some coverage after around 4 hours, so that is the perfect opportunity to touch up.
Before you do that though, reach for a lightweight and hydrating sunscreen (my current favorite one being the Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Rich SPF 50+ PA++++, as it feels more like a moisturizer than a sun cream) and just dab that all over your face. Wait for it to sink in, apply your powder foundation/ BB Cream/ Concealer on top and maybe add back in a little bit of blush (I keep this one in my makeup bag) – You are done!
Sunscreen sprays for the face
Sunscreen sprays aren’t new, and I have used quite a few different ones in the past, like this one from Bioderma Hydrabio Eau de Soin SPF 30 Anti-UV Mist or the pixi Sun Mist SPF 30. Newer ones by Kate Sommerville for example work as makeup setting sprays with integrated sun protection, making them even better for reapplying over makeup.
Sunscreen sprays are among the most convenient options I have found, as they don’t spill in your bag, disrupt your makeup the least and usually feel refreshing, but they have a few downsides that you need to be aware of:
- You need to make sure that the spray actually reaches your face, which is more difficult, the finer the mist is. Spraying them with an extended arm, maybe even outside where there is wind means only a fraction will actually go where it is needed – onto your face. A less fine mist though (leaving out the less comfortable feel they have) has a tendency to apply blobs of sunscreen to your face rather than an even layer, which means you get an uneven layer of protection.
- Many of them contain alcohol to make them light enough to spritz, which can sting your eyes when sprayed directly. Close them when you mist your face and also make sure you do not inhale – sunscreen is not meant to be breathed in!
So actually the best way to apply them would be to spritz a good amount into your hands and then pat that on your face – which then is probably the same as applying a cream or lotion.
- To get the promised sun protection factor, you need to apply a lot. So to actually get a good amount of protection like the SPF 30 they claim on the bottle, you would really need to drench your face with them. Always remember: They are great for touchups, but not for basic protection!
Don’t let that put you off though, if it is convenience you are after, they are amazing! I do reach for them myself, especially when I am out and about and pressed for time.
Powder sunscreens for the face
These are perfect for those that like powder foundations and probably more for my fellow oily girls than for those with dry skin.
Again: they are very convenient, you have control over where you apply them, much better than you have with sprays and, if you go for one of the tinted options, provide coverage and shine control as well as renewed sun protection.
My first (and so far only) experience with sunscreen powders though was pretty disappointing. I found a pot of the ISDIN sunscreen powder in my mother’s stash, nicked it and was pretty disappointed with the results. Probably because it is tinted and, given that my mother is about two shades darker than me, quite noticeable on my skin if I apply a generous amount, and of course a generous amount is needed for reasonable protection.
Just like with sunscreen sprays for the face you need to make sure that you don’t inhale the powder particles, should there be a lot of kickback.
It is an option that I would love to explore further, so I have added a few with great reviews for you (and me) to try underneath!
I am fairly new to Korean Beauty, so these weren’t on my radar for the longest time, but researching for this article was the perfect opportunity to finally purchase one. (My only other cushion experience was with the Dior Diorskin Perfect Cushion Foundation that I reviewed here back in 2017)
Sunscreen cushions sound perfect: As convenient as a powder would be, suitable for all skin types (even dry ones that don’t get along with powder) and perfect to ensure even coverage.
They are available both in tinted and clear, but while I love the idea of the clear ones, most of them have a noticeable white cast, which stems from two things: First, they usually use mineral filters only (read more about the different filters here), which due to their structure are much more likely to let you look way paler than you are. And second, many of the companies creating them still buy into the idea that lighter skin is more beautiful, so instead of trying to formulate a way around that, they name it as benefit in their advertising.
With the tinted ones of course there is the need to find one that matches your skin – most of them are pretty sheer in coverage in the beginning, but as you again need a reasonable amount to come close to the protection on the label, you will need to build them up quite a bit.
The one I purchased for testing this method is the dear klairs Mochi BB Cushion Pact SPF 40 PA++ (read more about the meaning of the PA rating here) and I really enjoy it for touchups before I go out for lunch or meet someone, basically whenever I want to look fresh and put together. Due to the mineral filters it contains it doesn’t exactly feel lightweight on my skin, but that might just be this particular product.
The best way to reapply sunscreen over a full face of makeup – if you ask me
I will not take credit for this one, as I have seen it both on YouTube and Instagram for a long time, but it is a game changer if you wear a heavy base. Maybe you want to cover up your acne, maybe you are required a heavy base due to your job, whatever the reason, I urge you to give it a try.
All you need is an old fashioned makeup sponge or maybe a cushion (not a beautyblender, as they tend to absorb too much product) and your regular sunscreen, of which you apply a generous amount on the back of your hand and then dab (not drag!) it across your face. That will work best with a sunscreen that is hydrating and does not leave a white cast.
Work in sections, make sure to dab (that is crucial to not smear the foundation) and maybe do several thinner layers rather than a heavy one. That way you not only get an even layer of protection, you also diffuse and refresh the makeup underneath. Seriously, don’t dismiss it until you tried it, your makeup might even look better than it did before!
You probably need to touch up your blush and/or bronzer afterwards, but that is a small price to pay for a perfect looking base with renewed sun protection, don’t you think?