How to Reapply Sunscreen While Wearing Makeup, According to the Experts

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FYI, we will always be team sunscreen. SPF is key to preventing sunburns and signs of premature aging (like fine lines and dark spots). And though you probably have your daily sunscreen routine down, did you know that you have to reapply it throughout the day? Yup, it’s crucial to reapply your sunscreen—especially if you’re spending the day in the sun.

OK, but what about my makeup? Don’t worry beauty gals. We reached out to three experts for their best tips on reapplying SPF while wearing a full face.

First things first, why is reapplying sunscreen so important?

You can pat yourself on the back for applying sunscreen in the morning all you want but that doesn’t mean the same protection is going to be there for the rest of the day. If you want to fully reap the benefits of your SPF, you need to stay on top of reapplying it every few hours.

“I always recommend that people not only apply sunscreen to their face daily, but reapply often, especially when outside, next to a window, or when swimming or sweating. The skin on the face is some of the most delicate skin on the body, and is therefore the most vulnerable to the sun,” says Dr. Corey L. Hartman, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, AL.

Gotcha, but what happens if I don’t?

“In the short term, you may get a burn and your face can be red, painful and tender to touch. A couple days later you may see peeling of the burned skin,” said Dr. Hartman. “There are also long-term effects as well, like skin cancer and accelerated aging of the skin, which can lead to hyperpigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles and dull, tired skin.”

So how often should I use sunscreen?

Whether you’re at the beach or working from home, you should be applying sunscreen every two to three hours. Dr. Hartman also recommends paying close attention to the time of year, where you are geographically and the types of activities you’re doing to determine how often you should reapply.

“If it’s the middle of winter and you’re only outside when you get in and out of your car, applying sunscreen once in the morning should be OK. But now, during the height of summer, more people are spending their lunch breaks outside and spending their weekends out enjoying activities–and if you’re doing that, you should definitely be reapplying throughout the day,” he explained.

So, how can I reapply sunscreen with makeup on?

Your makeup look is *chef’s kiss* so how can you reapply sunscreen without smearing your work? With the help of Charlie Riddle, STILA’s global beauty director and Etienne Ortega, a celebrity makeup artist and Deck of Scarlet’s brand ambassador of course. Ahead, they share a few tips to wearing SPF over your makeup.

  • If you’re using a cream: All you’ll need is a makeup sponge and your go-to face sunscreen. First, squeeze a teaspoon of sunscreen onto the back of your hand and use the sponge to lightly tap it into your skin. A cream-based product is great for all skin types, especially people with dry or sensitive skin. “I love to use a creamy sunscreen because I know I’m getting an even distribution and it's blending into the skin,” says Riddle.

Shop the creams: Black Girl Sunscreen ($16); Sunday Riley ($35); EltaMD ($37); EleVen by Venus Williams ($50); ISDIN ($55); Chantecaille ($96)

  • If you’re using a spray: If you need a SPF pick-me-up, grab a sunscreen spray and mist even layers of it onto your skin. Remember to let every spritz dry in-between for best results. Sprays work best on combination skin and they keep your face looking dewy (and not cakey or dry).

Shop the sprays: Neutrogena ($17; $12); Kate Somerville ($24); SuperGoop ($30), COOLA ($36);

  • If you’re using a powder: It’s like a setting powder and a sunscreen rolled up in one. This option is a favorite among makeup lovers for quick touch ups without making a mess. “Sunscreen powders are great because you naturally start to look oily and sweaty while in the sun, so it also acts as a touch up,” says Riddle. He recommends applying the powder all over, not just on the T-zone, for continued protection.

Shop the powders: Peter Thomas Roth ($30); Supergoop ($30); Brush On Block ($32); Ilia ($34); Colorescience ($69)

You can also use a combination of the three different formulas: the cream before you leave the house, the spray throughout the day and the powder for touch ups. Just make sure that whatever type of sunscreen you use, it has an SPF 30 or more.

Is there anything else I should know?

Before you begin your new sunscreen journey, keep these three tips in mind.

1. Don’t skip your skincare routine. You want to prep your skin with a good ol’ SPF base before applying any makeup. “This ensures that when the makeup starts to smudge or come off, you have a good base underneath to protect you from UV rays,” says Ortega.

2. While you should focus on the entire face (especially your forehead, cheeks and chin), Riddle recommends applying SPF down to your neck and on the tops of your ears as well. “When reapplying, don’t just reapply to the areas you get the most color. Always reapply everywhere your skin is exposed for even protection,” Ortega added.

3. Reach for lightweight formulas in your makeup collection like a tinted moisturizer (which often has SPF too!), cream blush and/or waterproof mascara. It will keep your skin feeling fresh and looking less greasy as you add more sunscreen throughout the day.

The Bottom Line:

It’s time to stop using the “Well, my makeup will be ruined!” excuse and keep your skin protected from the harsh rays. Your future self will thank you.

The 15 Best Spray Sunscreens, from a Fragrance-Free Option to a Makeup Setting Mist

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Associate Editor, Ultimate Fangirl, Aspiring Beauty Guru

Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...