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How to Layer Skincare, Sunscreen, and Makeup

How to Wear Sunscreen and Makeup

28 Feb 2024

Sunscreen is one of the few beauty products that everyone should use every single day. But it can be tricky to figure out how to use sunscreen and makeup together. For example: Should you apply sunscreen over or under makeup? Do you apply primer before or after sunscreen? And what happens when it’s time to reapply your SPF and you have a full face of makeup on? Don’t worry—we’re here to help simplify things. Ahead, we’ll answer all of your sunscreen and makeup-related questions (and, yes, teach you how to reapply sunscreen over makeup without destroying your work).

Should You Apply Sunscreen Before or After Moisturizer?

Sunscreen should generally be applied after moisturizer, as the final step in your daily skincare routine. Keep in mind that if you use a moisturizer with SPF, it can still be a good idea to put on additional sunscreen.

Should You Apply Sunscreen Before or After Makeup?

Sunscreen should be applied before makeup. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, you’ll want to wait about 15 minutes for your sunscreen to absorb before heading outdoors (or getting any sun exposure). During that period, you can do your makeup, cutting down on the amount of time you spend waiting around. More importantly, though, applying sunscreen over makeup can interfere with your look, especially if you’re wearing foundation and other base makeup. It may slide around or melt off altogether, forcing you to start right back at square one.

Should You Apply Sunscreen Before or After Foundation?

Sunscreen goes on before foundation. However, if you’re in the sun for more than two hours, you’ll need to reapply your SPF—and that can be tricky to do when you have makeup on. We’ll explain how to navigate reapplication in a bit, but for now, keep reading to learn how to apply your sunscreen under makeup.

How to Apply Sunscreen Under Makeup Properly: Step-by-Step

As we mentioned, sunscreen should generally be the last step in your daily skincare routine. But we’ll break it down even further. Ahead, discover exactly how to layer skincare, sunscreen, and makeup for a look that lasts.

Step 1. Wash Your Face

Start by cleansing your face to remove any excess dirt, oil, or leftover makeup. Look for a cleanser designed for your skin type—creamy, hydrating cleansers are great for those with drier skin, while gel and foam cleansers may be better for those with combination or oily skin.

Step 2. Add Any Serums

Pat your skin dry with a clean towel, then layer on any essences, serums, or emulsions you use. Make sure to let each product absorb fully before applying the next to help minimize the chance of pilling.

Step 3. Moisturize

Next, reach for your moisturizer. Even if your skin isn’t dry, this is an important step to replenish your skin and provide a smoother canvas for your makeup. We love Face Freezie Cooling Primer + Moisturizer because it’s designed to be used under makeup. The snow mushroom- and niacinamide-infused formula preps, evens, smooths, minimizes pores, tightens, hydrates, sculpts, softens, calms, and revitalizes skin.

Step 4. Apply Sunscreen

Let your moisturizer absorb completely before applying your sunscreen. When you do, reach for a broad-spectrum formula with an SPF of at least 15 (that’s what pros recommend as a minimum for sun protection). Take care to apply it to your entire face and neck, as well as any other exposed skin.

Step 5. Let the Sunscreen Absorb

Experts typically suggest giving your sunscreen at least 15 minutes to sink in. This time is needed for the sunscreen to provide maximum protection. Plus, if your sunscreen doesn’t absorb before you put on your makeup, all your blending and buffing may actually remove the sunscreen. Take that 15-minute window as an opportunity to browse TikTok for makeup inspiration (or find some here).

Step 6. Apply Prime

Once your sunscreen has sunk in, you can go ahead and apply your makeup primer. This will help your makeup last longer and go on smoother. For added sun protection, we recommend our Blur Screen SPF 30 Primer. It offers SPF 30 protection from UV rays, blurs imperfections, and helps grip makeup for up to 18 hours of wear.

Step 7. Apply Foundation and Other Makeup

Finally comes the most exciting step: Painting your canvas. Apply your foundation, concealer, blush, and any other makeup as usual, then seal it all in with a generous misting of your favorite setting spray. If you need a little inspiration, give our glowy makeup tutorial a whirl.

What Type of Sunscreen Is Better to Wear Under Makeup?

There are two types of sunscreen: Chemical sunscreen and mineral sunscreen. Both will help protect your skin from the sun but can interact with makeup in different ways. For instance, chemical sunscreens tend to be more layerable, while mineral sunscreens can help mattify. Keep reading to learn more.

Benefits of Chemical Sunscreen Under Makeup

Chemical sunscreens contain chemical filters that absorb UV light. They tend to sink into the skin fairly easily, which may make them easy to layer with makeup. Another benefit of chemical sunscreens is that they come in a range of textures, from thicker creams to water-based gels and even sprays. As such, it’s typically pretty easy to find a chemical sunscreen that suits your skin type and unique needs.

Benefits of Mineral Sunscreen Under Makeup

Mineral sunscreens contain mineral particles (typically zinc or titanium dioxide) that help form a physical barrier that helps block UV rays. These formulas sit on top of the skin, and as such, can sometimes leave behind a matte or chalky cast. That’s not ideal if you have dry skin, but if you’re prone to mid-day shine, the slightly drier texture could help mattify your complexion.

How to Use Blur Screen in Your Makeup and Sunscreen Routine

Blur Screen SPF 30 Primer is the ultimate start to your makeup routine because it both primes and protects your skin from UV rays. The gel-based formula is infused with cactus flower extract and blends seamlessly, leaving your skin feeling fresh and hydrated. Most importantly, it’s designed specifically for use under makeup and won’t pill or flake off.

After you’ve moisturized and applied your sunscreen, apply a generous layer of the sunscreen primer to your skin. Then, apply your makeup as usual. The three-in-one primer pairs especially well with our Bare With Me Blur Tint Foundation, which offers up to 16 hours of comfortable wear with a blurred, matte finish. You can also layer on concealer (try Bare With Me Concealer Serum or our Pro Fix Stick Correcting Concealer), as well as any bronzer, contour, or highlighting products that you usually use. Once you’re satisfied with your look, spritz your face with our Matte Finish Setting Spray to lock it all into place.

How to Reapply Sunscreen Over Makeup

So, we’ve answered the question “Do you put sunscreen on before or after makeup,” but there’s still the lingering question of reapplication. Vigorously rubbing a cream sunscreen all over your foundation, concealer, and other makeup products can (unsurprisingly) disrupt your work. Luckily, cream sunscreens aren’t the only option out there. There are also sunscreen powders and sprays, both of which can easily be used on top of makeup.

If you opt for a powder sunscreen, pat it over your entire face like you would a setting powder. A spray, meanwhile, can be spritzed directly onto your skin (bonus if it’s a setting spray with SPF—it’ll be designed specifically not to interfere with your makeup).

You also can make what you have work and reapply a cream or gel sunscreen over makeup in a pinch. The best way to do so is with a makeup sponge. We suggest dispensing a quarter-sized amount of SPF on the back of your hand, and then dipping your sponge into it. You can then lightly pat the sponge over your face, re-saturating it with SPF as needed to ensure your skin is completely covered. While this reapplication method may be a bit more time-consuming than the other options we mentioned, it’s viable. It’s not a bad idea to store a few of your must-have makeup products in your bag, either, just in case you want to touch anything up.

The Bottom Line

Next: Ultimately, sunscreen and makeup can and should be used together. For more details on why sunscreen is a non-negotiable, check out our article Should You Wear Sunscreen Every Day?

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