As any board-certified Dermatologist will tell you, the real secret to aging well is protecting your skin from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. All the fancy creams and serums in the world can't replace a layer of broad-spectrum sunscreen each morning when it comes to keeping your skin looking as good as you feel. What you may not know, however, is that you need to reapply sunscreen throughout the day to stay protected.

If you wear makeup, this might not sound very practical. Are you expected to remove it just to reapply your sunscreen, or add it over the top, ruining your makeup in the process? Read on to learn whether to apply sunscreen before or after makeup, how to reapply sunscreen over makeup, and some tips for how to better protect your skin each day.

Making Sunscreen Part of Your Everyday Regimen

You should always start your morning routine with facial sunscreen, as your skin is exposed to UV radiation every day—even in the winter. Apply your sunscreen as the final step in your skin care routine after your usual serum and moisturizer. If you use a lightweight formula, this should either leave your complexion matte or a little dewy (depending on your sunscreen of choice), rather than greasy. You'll then be left with a beautiful base for makeup.

You might choose to increase your protection by using a foundation or tinted moisturizer that contains SPF, but keep in mind that these aren't as powerful. Avoid using these formulas in lieu of a dedicated broad-spectrum sunscreen.

Reapplying Sunscreen over Makeup

As you go about your day, you might perspire and touch or rub your face, disrupting that precious sunscreen base. To keep a good level of protection, you'll need to reapply regularly throughout the day, especially after exercise. The American Cancer Society advises reapplying sunscreen every 30 minutes if you're sitting directly in the sun, and every two to three hours otherwise.

But, wondering exactly how to reapply sunscreen over makeup? The best way to reapply your sunscreen without ruining your makeup is by using a tool like a beauty blender or a small sponge. Get it slightly damp, add a dot of sunscreen, and lightly blot the sponge onto your face. You can then repeat this step to ensure full coverage.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen

When choosing a sunscreen that'll sit nicely over makeup, there are a number of options. It really comes down to personal preference. The first option is a tinted facial sunscreen like EltaMD UV Clear Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 46. Lightweight and silky, this tinted sunscreen is formulated with Hyaluronic Acid and Lactic Acid to sink quickly into the skin while leaving a dewy finish. And most importantly, it'll also add broad-spectrum SPF protection.

Alternatively, you could use a sheer sunscreen like EltaMD's UV Sheer Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+. This also works well beneath or over the top of makeup and is particularly well suited to humid climates. You can also use a mist sunscreen or pair a sponge and SPF powder to top up your protection. Just take care to regularly clean any tools you use when applying sunscreen to remove sweat and bacteria.

Future-Proofing Your Skin

While it may seem like lots of extra work to reapply sunscreen throughout the day, it's easy when you get into the habit. A great way to help form this practice is by carrying a small bottle of sunscreen in your handbag, backpack, or tote with a small sponge and mirror. Keep these items in a little bag to ensure the sponge remains clean. This way, you have everything ready to go when you need it.

Remember to remove your makeup and sunscreen at the end of the day with a gentle cleanser. This will keep your skin clear and allow the products you apply before bed to work their best.

Protecting your skin from UVA and UVB rays throughout the year will help to prevent premature signs of aging and UV-induced concerns like hyperpigmentation. It'll also reduce your risk of more serious health concerns like melanoma. No matter where your motivation comes from, your future complexion will thank you by glowing into your golden years.


  • Catherine Hufton

    Catherine Hufton is a UK-based freelance journalist and writer who has worked for some of fashion's most iconic companies and written for the world's best known magazines and newspapers. Beginning her career at Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion over 12 years ago, she has created content for L'Oréal, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, The Telegraph and more.

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