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Do I Need SPF Foundation in My Makeup Routine?

A photo of a woman standing the sun

Without question, sunscreen is one of the best ingredients to incorporate into your skincare routine. In fact, SPF is an essential part of your daily regimen and should even be reapplied as the day goes on.  Not only does this crucial step help prevent skin cancer, but when you protect your skin from sun damage, it helps minimize signs of premature aging.

Adding SPF makeup to your beauty process—including SPF foundation—helps ensure you’re getting the sun protection you need. Because it matters so much, we’re taking a moment to answer important questions like whether foundation with SPF is enough protection, how SPF makeup fits into your beauty routine, and what type of SPF foundation is best for specific skin concerns. 

What is SPF in Makeup?

SPF makeup is makeup formulated with sunscreen. There is an extensive range of makeup products that contain SPF, including tinted moisturizers, powder foundation, and CC creams such as CC+ Nude Glow Lightweight Foundation + Glow Serum with SPF 40

While different in its own right, each product offers a level of protection against the sun’s damaging UV rays. Incorporating sunscreen makeup into your daily routine (yep, even when it’s cloudy and even when you’re logged on for a marathon day of Zoom meetings) is an essential step in achieving glowy skin that looks healthy and youthful.

Did you know?: Short for “sun protection factor,” SPF refers to how long it’d take to burn your skin when using the product versus how quickly it’d take the sun to impact your skin without the product. So, in theory, an SPF of 30 will protect your skin 30 times longer compared to just having bare skin. 

The Best Way to Use SPF Foundation

Does wearing makeup protect your skin? If it has SPF, then yes. However (and this is a big however), you should wear sunscreen even if your foundation is formulated with sunscreen. Think of SPF foundation as the icing on the sun protection cake. When layered with your favorite sunscreen product, it offers additional protection from the sun’s damaging UV rays. 

How Much Sunscreen Do You Need?

To achieve the SPF number on the packaging (i.e., SPF 15, 30, 40, etc.) it’s recommended to apply two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin. Okay…but how does that translate into real life? An adult will need a shot glass of sunscreen (approximately two tablespoons) to cover exposed areas of the face and body. On the face alone, a nickel-sized amount is recommended by dermatologists. 

Yes, you can put your makeup over the sunscreen, so start there. When using foundation with SPF, use as much as you need of your favorite foundation to get the coverage you’re looking for. You can use either your fingertips or brush when applying it to your face. Meanwhile, apply sunscreen anywhere else that’s exposed, including your neck, décolletage, arms, and hands.

When outdoors, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends applying sunscreen every two hours, as well as anytime you’ve been in the water or sweating. 

What to Look for in SPF Makeup

If you’re adding preventive skincare products to your makeup kit, understanding the label will go a long way in helping you find the ideal product for you and your skin type. Here’s what to look for when shopping for an SPF foundation.

Choose SPF 30 or Higher

What SPF do I need? The AAD recommends wearing a daily SPF of 30 or higher.1 This helps block 97 percent of the sun's UVB rays. We’ve got you covered here: All IT Cosmetics SPF foundations have at least SPF 40. 

Use “Broad Spectrum” Sunscreen 

SPF measurements refer to how well you’re protected from UVB rays. UVB (aka ultraviolet B) rays are responsible for more surface-level damage, including burning. On the other hand, UVA rays, known as ultraviolet A, have longer wavelengths and are associated with skin aging and skin cancer. 

Today, many sunscreens, including SPF foundations, are broad spectrum. That means they protect against both UVB and UVA rays. When shopping for SPF makeup and skincare products, always look for the term “broad spectrum” and prioritize those products. 

Consider Your Skin Type

Your skin type should also play a role in the type of sunscreen makeup you choose. 

  • People with oily skin, combination skin, and blemish-prone skin types should opt for lightweight and/or oil-free foundations. Bonus points if they have mattifying abilities to help combat shine throughout the day. 

  • Normal and dry skin types are most compatible with SPF foundations with creamier consistencies and moisturizing ingredients. 

Clear vs. Physical Sunscreen

Not sure whether a physical SPF or clear sunscreen will serve you best? Consider factors like skin tone and formula texture. 

  • Clear sunscreens go on invisibly, making them ideal for people of every skin tone, including those with dark complexions. The formulations also tend to feel more lightweight.

  • Physical sunscreens, frequently called mineral sunscreens, are excellent, and many people love using these formulations. However, they can sometimes leave a white cast because they’re made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are thick and white.

Our Favorite SPF Foundations 

IT Cosmetics sells a wide range of SPF makeup, all of which feature an SPF 40 or higher. You can also choose from physical or clear sunscreen formulations. Here are some favorites: 

1. CC+ Nude Glow Lightweight Foundation + Glow Serum with SPF 40

  • SPF 40

  • Clear sunscreen

  • Suitable for all skin types

  • Lightweight to buildable medium coverage

  • A brightening serum foundation that includes 2% niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and green tea extract  

2. CC+ Cream with SPF 50+ 

  • SPF 50+ 

  • Physical sunscreen

  • Suitable for all skin types

  • Full coverage 

  • Infused with hydrolyzed collagen, peptides, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, adenosine, antioxidants and vitamins 

3. CC+ Cream Oil-Free Matte with SPF 40

  • SPF 40

  • Physical sunscreen 

  • Suitable for oily, combination, and blemish-prone skin types

  • Full coverage 

  • A hydrating, oil-free formula that helps combats shine 

4. CC+ Cream Illumination with SPF 50+

  • SPF 50+

  • Physical sunscreen 

  • Suitable for all skin types

  • Full coverage

  • Along with micronized light-reflecting pigments to give you glowing skin, it features hydrolyzed collagen, peptides, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, adenosine, antioxidants and vitamins​.

5. Bye Bye Foundation Full Coverage Moisturizer with SPF 50+

  • SPF 50+

  • Physical sunscreen 

  • Suitable for all skin types

  • Full coverage 

  • Featuring proprietary 3D Skin Flex™ Technology, this hydrating foundation provides smooth and flexible coverage that feels weightless over skin.

6. Bye Bye Foundation Oil-Free Matte Full Coverage Moisturizer with SPF 50+

  • SPF 50+

  • Physical sunscreen 

  • Suitable for oily, combination, and blemish-prone skin types 

  • Full coverage 

  • Features IT Cosmetics proprietary 3D Skin Flex™ Technology along with ingredients that help visibly combat shine and keep skin looking clear. 

Now that you’ve been fully briefed on SPF foundation, consider learning about the best routine for dark spots, why ceramides in skincare are so important, and which anti-aging ingredients you should add to your regimen.

Sources:

1. “Sunscreen FAQs.” American Academy of Dermatologists (AAD). https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/sunscreen-patients/sunscreen-faqs.

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