5 Derm-Approved Methods For Re-Applying SPF Over Makeup

woman in sunglasses with glowing skin

Getty Images / Byrdie

First things first: If you're going to be out in the sun, it's imperative to know that re-applying SPF over your makeup will help protect your skin from harmful UV and UVB rays consistently throughout the day. While it seems like a good idea, in theory, the real question is: how can we re-apply SPF over our makeup without actually ruining it? Not to worry, there are plenty of easy solutions for that. We spoke to board-certified dermatologists Doris Day and Marina Peredo to get all the facts on how to efficiently re-apply our SPF to ensure high-level protection from the sun all year long—yes, you need to wear SPF even in the winter, too!

Meet the Expert

  • Doris Day, MD, is a New York City-based, board-certified dermatologist specializing in laser, cosmetic, surgical, and aesthetic dermatology.
  • Marina Peredo, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist who practices aesthetic, laser, and surgical dermatology. She is based in New York City.
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Start With a Solid SPF Base

It's imperative before applying makeup, to begin with, a strong SPF as a base to ensure skin is protected from the start. This should be something that is engrained in our skincare routine daily and a non-negotiable. Peredo emphasizes, “The best way to approach sunscreen and makeup is to lay a strong foundation of sunscreen before applying any makeup." This way, you're not depending on a sunscreen you apply on top of your makeup to do all of the work, and you've got double the protection. This Daily Brightening UV Defense Sunscreen from Skinceuticals is an ideal sunscreen to use under makeup,

Peredo goes on to recommend that "The reapplication of SPF is critical and should be very consistent each day.  Your best bet overall is to take the “multitasker” approach and use a tinted SPF," which can be applied with your fingers, a sponge, or makeup brush lightly on top of your makeup to freshen things up and add a layer of SPF protection. Peredo touts Alastin HydraTint Pro Mineral Sunscreen ($55) as a suitable option for everyday use. Using sunscreen tints can also take the place of a heavier foundation if you're looking for a lighter alternative to wear during warmer months. This tinted sunscreen from Babo Botanicals is also ideal for daily use.

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Use a Powdered Sunscreen

Freshen up your SPF situation by applying a light powder sunscreen on top of makeup when you need to add something extra. Day recommends mineral-based powder formulas, "Powder formulas are designed to go over makeup and keep you protected because if you don't reapply your sunscreen, it's as if you never applied it, due to the fact sunscreen wears off or degrades within a few hours of application." Day recommends Doris Day MD Skincare Mattifying Mineral Powder Sunscreen ($65).

Re-applying powder SPF is a fairly easy thing to do; all you need is to lightly dust it all over the face in a circular motion until it's efficiently blended. Powder sunscreens are a great alternative to lotions and creams if you tend to be oily and want to maintain a matte finish on your skin throughout the day, and are easily portable to bring anywhere for added benefit and ease of application. This (Re)Setting 100% Mineral Powder SPF 35 from Supergoop! ($30) is a fan favorite.

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Be Generous With SPF Setting Spray

When you find your skin needs an SPF refresh, go ahead and use a setting spray that you can easily mist all over the face and on top of makeup during the high peak of when the sun's out. How often should you be re-applying this mist, you ask? Peredo recommends, “You should re-apply sunscreen on top of makeup every 30 minutes if you are directly in the sun or every two-to-three hours if you are not directly in the sun." So basically, if you're at the pool or beach, be sure to use your refreshing SPF mist consistently, and if you're out and about running errands, every few hours is fine. Having a mist on hand will make things much easier, especially if you have a busy day planned, leaving you one less thing to worry about. Supergoop! Defense Refresh (Re)Setting Spray SPF 40 ($30) is ideal to spray multiple times a day for ensured protection,

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Get Your SPF From a Compact

Portable compacts containing SPF are simple ways to re-apply through the day without any hassle; it's important to pay attention to the number before investing in anything you'll be using daily. Day recommends "SPF 30 is the perfect place to start when looking for suitable SPF options" and doesn't recommend SPF 15 or below for anyone, especially on the face. You can re-apply a compact that contains SPF with a makeup sponge or portable powder brush that easily fits in your makeup bag. When using portable powder compacts, be sure not to double-dip sweaty sponges back into the compact for re-application. This can cause bacteria to spread and compromise the top layer of your powder compact, causing it to become bumpy or hardened by excess oil. If you're looking for a cream-to-powder compact, Avéne Mineral Tinted Compact SPF 50 ($36) is suitable for base makeup and touch-ups. An ideal powder option is Colorescience Natural Finish Pressed Foundation SPF 20 ($55).

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Blot Your SPF On Repeat

Blotting your regular sunscreen on top of your makeup using a sponge is also a suitable and efficient option for re-applying your SPF. You add your regular liquid or cream SPF to a sponge and lightly blot all over the face until it's been absorbed and each area is covered. You can do this with a dry sponge or something like a Beauty Blender that is slightly damp. Day says, "While sunscreen is a great place to start, it's best to be sun smart" and recommends wearing hats with broad brims, sunglasses with UV protection, soaking up as much shade as possible, avoiding mid-day sun when it's the strongest, and wearing protective sun clothing. Day recommends a great sunscreen to wear under makeup, and on top for daily use is Blue Lizard Sheer Face Lotion SPF 50 ($19).

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