SPF Protection From Makeup Isn’t Really Possible, and There’s a Very Specific Reason Why

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There are many makeup products on the market that contain SPF. The most common include moisturisers, foundations, primers, BB creams, CC creams and tinted moisturisers. While all of these products are great, the addition of SPF isn’t enough to actually protect you from UV rays.

You’re probably thinking, ‘But my foundation says it’s SPF50+’. And, if it says it contains this level of sun protection, that’s true, it does. The issue here is that you don’t actually use enough of the product to get adequate protection.

Take your foundation as an example. Adults need about a teaspoon of sunscreen to protect their face and neck. If you think about how much foundation you’re using, we guess it’s probably only one to two pumps, right? If you’re not using sunscreen underneath your foundation, this means you’re missing out on proper sun protection.

Hannah English, a scientist and digital creator, has created a helpful video to drive this message home. In the IGTV, English measures out the required amount for sufficient protection, which is much more product than one would usually use. “When they test sunscreens, they use 2mg per square centimetre, which for face, works out to a quarter teaspoon,” said English.

To show just how much product that is, English measures out her foundation into a quarter teaspoon. “That’s the two pumps I’d normally use,” said English. “To fill it up took about six.” That’s a lot of foundation.

English empties out the foundation onto the back of her hand and begins distributing it across her face. The result needs to be seen to really understand the flaw in only getting SPF from your face products. Even after lots of rubbing, the foundation isn’t blending in, it looks shiny and is several shades darker than English’s skin.

“Do you reckon there’s any way I could blend this so that it looks decent?” English says in the video. “No. And if I use less, I won’t be getting SPF50+. There’s also more [product] on my hand. This is what SPF50+ of makeup looks like.”

And, if you’re thinking that this might be because of the particular product English chose, she actually tested a bunch of products with SPF and experienced the same outcome. “I recorded the same visual with several products to see if any were wearable (they weren’t) and I still feel slimy from it,” English wrote on Instagram.

So, what’s the takeaway here? Well, for one, we recommend disregarding the fact that any of your face products like tinted moisturisers, foundations and the like, contain SPF. Let’s pretend they don’t. The best practice here is to use an SPF50+ sunscreen — here are some of our favourites — and then follow it up with your makeup.

And, one more thing! Layering two SPF products doesn’t add up to a higher level of protection. For example, layering an SPF50+ foundation over a sunscreen of the same protection doesn’t add up to SPF100+. If you’re wearing multiple products with sun protection, you’re still only achieving the protection of the highest SPF.

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, with skin cancers accounting for around 80 per cent of all newly diagnosed cancers across the country. So, we need to make sure we’re protecting ourselves properly, especially because 95 per cent of skin cancer cases are caused by unprotected exposure to UV radiation from the sun, making many of these cases preventable.

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