3 Ways to Reapply Sunscreen Over Makeup (and Pros and Cons of Each)


It’s the age-old question: how do I reapply sunscreen throughout the day without messing up my makeup? 

When it comes to preventing visible signs of aging, there’s no better ingredient out there than SPF. The trick is applying your sunscreen correctly so that you’re actually getting the full protection it claims to offer, and this includes reapplying throughout the day as your first application wears off.

In this post, I’ll go over four different ways to reapply sunscreen over makeup, plus the pros and cons of each.

How Many Times a Day Do I Actually Need to Reapply Sunscreen?

The answer to this question depends a lot on what your day looks like. If you’re spending your day outdoors (especially if you’re sweating or swimming), reapplying every two hours is a must. 

Unless you work outside though, reapplying every two hours on a daily basis isn’t necessary (or, let’s face it, realistic). On a regular day, it’s mostly about using common sense and reapplying at times when you’ll be getting the most UV exposure. For most people, one to two reapplications should be enough. This could be before stepping out to take your lunch break or take a walk, or when you’re getting in your car to leave work and run some errands. If you sit right next to a window all day, you may want to add in one more reapplication since UV rays penetrate through windows.

Remember though, the most important sunscreen application of the day is your first. Start with a strong foundation in the morning by applying the correct amount of sunscreen to your face and all other exposed areas of your skin.

What’s the Best Way to Reapply Sunscreen Over Makeup?

Okay, so let me just start by saying this: there is no perfect way to reapply sunscreen over makeup, and here’s why. Sunscreen is tested by applying a specific amount of product to a certain centimeter square area of the skin. It’s applied evenly to clean skin and allowed to form a film before being evaluated and given an SPF number.

The nature of reapplication means you won’t be applying whichever product you use to clean skin, so there’s a good chance it won’t be able to form a protective film as well as it’s supposed to. All this to say, it’s really difficult to get the true SPF number indicated on a label when you’re applying something over makeup, skincare, and another layer of sunscreen.

But, don’t despair! There are still some great options out there and at the end of the day, some extra protection is better than none. Here are four ways to touch up your sun protection throughout the day while wearing makeup.

1. Reapply Sunscreen Lotion Using Hands or Beauty Tools

The first option on the list is to reapply your regular sunscreen throughout the day using either just your hands or a beauty tool, like a brush or Beauty Blender. The nice thing about this option is that you’re using a tested, tried-and-true sunscreen product and can evenly coat your skin. On the other hand, it can be a little messy to apply and disruptive to your makeup if you’re wearing a full face so that sometimes means you have to apply it more sparingly in order to keep your makeup intact.

I’ve seen tons of articles recommending people use a Beautyblender (a popular makeup sponge) to reapply their sunscreen. If this works well for you, I say go for it. Just be mindful of keeping them clean but also switching them out regularly so you aren’t introducing bacteria to your skin. Also, realize that the sponge will absorb some of your product, but eventually, the saturation will max out and the product will be deposited onto your skin. This may just be a bit of a waste if your sunscreen is expensive!

Pros of Reapplying Sunscreen Lotion

  • You’re using a tried and true SPF product.
  • You can coat the skin well for even protection.
  • Good option if you only wear light makeup.

Cons of Reapplying Sunscreen Lotion

  • Works best with tinted mineral, chemical, or hybrid sunscreens (mineral + chemical). Purely physical sunscreens may leave a cast or not blend well due to the use of pure zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
  • If you’re using a beauty tool, it could soak up your sunscreen or pick up and smudge the makeup you’re already wearing.
  • Can be cumbersome, messy, or inconvenient.
  • Chemical sunscreen may not be able to properly form a film over your skin for protection since you’re already wearing sunscreen and makeup.

2. Use a Cream Makeup Compact

What you may not know is that even if your makeup products aren’t marked as SPF, they’re still giving you some amount of sun protection. This is thanks to the fact that titanium dioxide—an active mineral ingredient used in physical sunscreens— is used in almost all tinted makeup products. Of course, makeup isn’t a suitable replacement for actual sunscreen, but it adds a little bit of an insurance policy. I actually recommend that people wear makeup every day for this very reason!

If you do want guaranteed SPF, there are makeup compacts that offer just that, like the Avene High Protection Tinted Compact SPF 50. 

Pros of Using a Cream Makeup Compact

  • Since it’s a makeup product, it will help keep your makeup look intact.
  • Easy to carry around and mess-free.
  • Good for someone who wears full makeup and likes foundation.
  • Physical blocker (titanium dioxide) means it doesn’t matter as much that you already have other products on your skin, the sun protection will still be effective.

Cons of Using a Cream Makeup Compact

  • The applicator or sponge could get dirty and introduce bacteria to the skin.
  • You need to apply an even coat all over for sun protection, which could look heavier than some people want.

3. Use a Tinted Powder (That Contains Titanium Dioxide)

This is the method that I’ve personally used for years and a lot it comes down to ease of application for me. I love just being able to quickly and conveniently reapply a powder product as needed, then go about my day.

The same thing applies here as with cream makeup compacts; any makeup powder containing titanium dioxide will offer protection (although it has not been tested for it), but you can also get sunscreen powders that have been proven to protect against UV rays and given an SPF number by the FDA. Both Colorescience and Supergoop make good SPF options, I have personally used both of these.

Pros of Tinted Powder

  • Easy, portable, and mess-free.
  • Good for those with oily skin since it’s oil-absorbing.
  • Powder particles are good at grabbing onto and coating the skin (essential for sun protection).
  • Easy to apply on other body parts like hands, neck, chest, or hair part.
  • Physical blocker (titanium dioxide) means it doesn’t matter as much that you already have other products on your skin, the sun protection will still be effective.

Cons of Tinted Powder

  • You need a good amount of powder, which could look cakey on some complexions.
  • May not be ideal for those with dry skin.
  • Shade ranges for powders with SPF can be limited.

4. Use a Sunscreen Spray or Mist

Sunscreen sprays and mists have definitely become more popular over the past few years as people pursue “dewy-looking” skin. If I’m honest…this is my least favorite reapplication method, simply because it’s unlikely you’re getting significant sun protection from it.

First of all, people underestimate how much of an SPF mist is needed to get the protection indicated on the bottle. Chances are it’s a lot more than you’ll be comfortable using from an aesthetic standpoint. In addition, it’s really critical that these spray sunscreens can form a film over the skin to be effective. This just isn’t possible when you’re spraying it over layers of products already on your skin. Finally, you’re actually supposed to rub in sunscreen sprays or mists to get them into the skin, which defeats the purpose of keeping makeup intact. Not a glowing recommendation, I know, BUT if this is the only way you can stand to reapply SPF throughout the day I still encourage you to do it. After all, some protection is better than none!

Pros of a Sunscreen Spray or Mist

  • Easy, portable, and mess-free.
  • Doesn’t disrupt makeup much.
  • Great for those who like a dewy look.
  • Can easily be used on the body as well.

Cons of a Sunscreen Spray or Mist

  • Spray or aerosol delivery could cause irritation to the eyes, nose, mouth.
  • Can’t form a film over skin with product already on it, won’t offer much sun protection.

Which Method of Sunscreen Reapplication is Best?

Bottom line, the best method of reapplying sunscreen is the method you’ll actually use. As you can tell, reapplication is a tricky business and none of these methods is perfect. The one that works best for you will depend on your skin type and how much or what kind of makeup you wear on a daily basis, so I encourage you to experiment a little and see what you like. At the end of the day, just be aware of the pros and cons of each so you can mitigate the cons as much as possible.

Next, read about the pros and cons of mineral vs physical sunscreen and which one is best for your skin type.





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