If there’s a step I wish I could eliminate from my skincare routine is sunscreen.
It’s thick. Greasy. White.
Once I’ve finished patting it on (this diva that doesn’t like to be rubbed), my skin feels heavy and has taken on a paler hue.
That’s my cue to start looking for a better formula. But, geez, why are all the lightweight formulas loaded with alcohol?
Surely, there must be a better way.
Cosmetics with SPF! Moisturizers. BB Creams. Foundations. Powders. All loaded with UV filters.
They don’t suffocate your skin.
They don’t leave a greasy residue all over your face.
They don’t turn you into Caspar the Ghost.
And you’re using them anyway.
Why bother with sunscreens when your moisturizer with SPF does the job better and saves you time in the morning, too? (I know, you’d love to spend those 5 more minutes in bed, instead).
There’s a catch…
Why Cosmetics With SPF Aren’t A Good Alternative To Sunscreen…
Sunscreen is different from all the other cosmetic products. A pea-size amount of moisturizer makes your skin soft and smooth. A few drops of foundation even out your skintone. A thin layer of powder keeps oil and shine at bay.
Sunscreen is a lot more demanding. You need to apply 2.0mg/cm² to get the SPF stated on the label.
This equals roughly:
- 1/4 teaspoon of sunscreen
- 7 layers of foundation
- 14 layers of powder
That’s a whole lotta powder right there! Can you imagine applying that much? Your face’d start looking all cakey after the second layer.
Not to mention, you’d have to reapply all of that every couple of hours or so.
Sunscreen looks like the easy option now, doesn’t it?
How effective is your sunscreen? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Sunscreen Audit” Worksheet and find out if your sunscreen is really up to the job:
… But They’re Not Totally Useless Either
Let’s get one thing straight once and for all: cosmetics with SPF are NOT an alternative to sunscreen. You can’t dust on your powder with SPF30 and expect it to keep you well-protected all day. It won’t even keep you well-protected for an hour.
But, there are times when you can’t reapply your sunscreen. Maybe you put it on religiously every morning but forgot to keep a spare bottle in your bag with you for reapplication. It happens.
If you really have no alternative, using a powder or even moisturizer with SPF is better than nothing. Anything is better than nothing.
Just don’t use it as an excuse to skip your sunscreen.
What If You Use Multiple Skincare And Makeup Products With SPF?
I know what you’re thinking…
“But, what if I’m using a moisturizer with SPF20, a foundation with SPF15 and a powder with SPF30? Won’t SPF65 keep me protected enough?”
Sorry to burst your bubble, but you’re not getting SPF65. You can’t add up sunscreen like that.
If you use more than one product with SPF, you only get the SPF of the highest product you apply. In this case, 30.
But, only as long as you apply the required 14 layers.
Nope, there’s not getting around this one, ladies. Cosmetics with SPF are NOT a valid alternative to sunscreen.
Related: Sunscreen Math: Can You Add Up SPF?
My Technique For Optimal Sun Protection
Every morning, I apply a broad spectrum mineral sunscreen, like Badger Balm SPF30 Unscented Cream. Sometimes, I’ll follow up with a foundation or powder with SPF, but I never take any notice of the number. I know their SPF won’t do me much good.
Every few hours, I try to be a good girl and reapply the sunscreen. If, for some reason, that’s not possible, I’ll use a powder with SPF. It’s my last resort, not my first.
Plus, I’m a weirdo who avoids the sun like the plague. You need to reapply sunscreen because it gets deactivated by sunlight. If you spend most of your time indoors, away from big windows, it won’t deteriorate as quickly.
If I know I’m spending a lot of time outside that day, I’ll bring a bottle of sunscreen with me and touch up. Relying on powders alone isn’t skin smart.
Related: How To Reapply Sunscreen When You’re Wearing Makeup
The Bottom Line
It was too good to be true: cosmetics with SPF aren’t a good substitute for sunscreen. You’d have to apply too many layers to get the SPF stated on the packaging. It just ain’t worth it.
If you’re struggling to find a good sunscreen, check out my top picks:
Do you rely on cosmetics with SPF to protect you from UV rays? If so, now that you know the truth, will be switching to sunscreen? Leave a comment below and let me know.