Do Powders With SPF Offer Adequate Sun Protection?

by Gio
powders with spf provide adequate sun protection


If you have oily skin, powders with SPF are the answer to all your sunscreen prayers.

They aren’t greasy.

They soak up excess oil.

They make your makeup last longer.

You can retouch them anytime, anywhere.

They’re perf…

Not so fast! Powders with SPF do a lot of amazing things for you, but keeping your skin safe from UV harm is NOT one of them. Here’s why:

Do Powders With SPF Provide Adequate Sun Protection?

Powders with SPF can provide the SPF stated on the packaging and protect your skin from the sun. BUT, only if you apply enough.

Hint: the sheer layer you dust on to settle your makeup is nowhere near enough.

Don’t take my word for it. Dermatologist Leslie Baumann agrees: “when scientists test facial powders to determine SPF (as mandated by the FDA), they typically assume that 2mg of product will be used per cm2 of skin.

“The average face is about 600cm2 (although that varies from person to person, of course), meaning that a person needs to apply about 1.2g of facial powder to get the SPF stated on the product’s label.

“Studies show that most women only apply about 0.085g of powder at a time. In a nutshell, you’d have to apply 14 times the amount of powder you usually do to be sufficiently protected against the sun!”

There’s  no way anyone could apply that much powder to their faces, even if they wanted to! And if you manage it, can you imagine how cake your skin will look?

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:

Are Powders With SPF Useless?

I wouldn’t say powders with SPF are completely useless. They’re not sunscreen and should NEVER be used as such.

But if you need a quick touch-up during the day and forgot your sunscreen at home, they’ll do. Sure, they won’t give you adequate sun protection, but it’s better than nothing.

Still, use them only in a pinch when you have absolutely no other choice.

The Bottom Line

Keep using your powders with SPF to soak up excess oil and set your makeup. DON’T use them as sunscreen.

Do you use powders with SPF? Share your experience in the comments below.



xin September 13, 2011 - 1:31 pm

thanks for the info! i had no idea that we needed THAT much of powder to act as a sunblock. I do have powder with SPF but it is not a major factor that i consider while buying since i usually use sunscreen and foundation with SPF already. But good to know! 😉

beautifulwithbrains September 13, 2011 - 6:16 pm

Xin, I know, right? That’s a lot of powder! Better to stick to sunscreen and use the powder only for touch-ups. 🙂

kuri September 13, 2011 - 2:23 pm

Thanks for this! I was always skeptical that powders could provide sufficient protection, so it’s good to see facts regarding this! It would be impossible for me to put 1g of powder on my face, hehe.

You make a good point about the physical sunscreen ingredients for a powder. I’ll make sure that the next powder I buy has them!

beautifulwithbrains September 13, 2011 - 6:20 pm

Kuri, you’re welcome. I’m glad you find the post helpful. I don’t think anyone could put on that much eheh. And it’s always good to make sure your powder contains chemical filters so you know you’re protected even if you’re wearing makeup. 🙂

Trisha September 13, 2011 - 6:42 pm

Thanks for this, Gio! The way I see it: it’s better thank nothing. But I do what you suggested. I use the powders over a regular SPF.

beautifulwithbrains September 14, 2011 - 6:19 am

Trisha, I agree with you. It’s better than nothing indeed but it still shouldn’t be used as a replacement for sunscreen. 🙂

Dao September 14, 2011 - 3:49 am

1 gram is a lot of powder, considering a 10-gram jar can only house 2 grams of mineral powder. I’d like to use sunscreen but top it off with some powder to prevent shine.

beautifulwithbrains September 14, 2011 - 6:25 am

Dao, that’s true. It’s just impossible to get the level of protection stated on the packaging unfortunately. Using sunscreen and then powder is the best option.

Ling September 14, 2011 - 5:33 am

Great post dearie! I actually use SPF powder foundation sometimes so yay! Winning 🙂

beautifulwithbrains September 14, 2011 - 6:37 am

Ling, ta. And I’m glad that works well for you. 🙂

Celina September 14, 2011 - 5:38 am

This is a really informative post, I’m so glad you made it! I feel so enlightened 😀

beautifulwithbrains September 14, 2011 - 6:31 am

Celina, I’m glad you’ve found it useful 🙂

Tammy September 15, 2011 - 6:20 am

My BareMinerals Matte has SPF 15 and I’ve always wondered how much I needed to apply to get that amount of sun protection. As much makeup as I wear, there’s no way I can apply THAT much to my face, lol! Thanks for the info!

beautifulwithbrains September 15, 2011 - 11:52 am

Tammy, you’re welcome. It’s a shame we need to apply that much to be properly protected as it’s just impossible to do so.

Paris B September 15, 2011 - 7:42 am

Know what? I actually have some Sunblock powders. They are very interesting, supposed to be a sunblock in powder form. But being a creature of habit, I can’t bring myself to use just that, because I’m so sceptical as to how much protection it can offer my skin.

beautifulwithbrains September 15, 2011 - 11:53 am

Paris, I’m not a fan of sunblock in powder form either. I think it’s much easier to get adequate protection from a lotion that a powder.

Jeni September 15, 2011 - 7:54 am

I don’t usually use a power with SPF, but one of the ones I have supposedly has an SPF of 55 (by Physician’s Formula). I can’t imagine applying 14x the amount of that powder I use. That’s crazy! I don’t rely on the SPF from powder, but when I went to the pool all day last week I put on tons of regular sunscreen and then put the powder on over it for a little extra protection.

beautifulwithbrains September 15, 2011 - 11:56 am

Jeni, sunscreen + powder is definitely the best option. And it’s crazy indeed the amount of powder you have to apply for reliable sun protection!

Amanda September 18, 2011 - 2:22 pm

I have always been thinking that applying a thin film of powder on my face can’t provide much protection for my skin. But if I had to choose one with SPF and one without, I guess I would choose the former.

beautifulwithbrains September 18, 2011 - 7:12 pm

Amanda, I agree with you. I would chose one with SPF too, but I just wouldn’t rely solely on it for sun protection.

Julia January 18, 2012 - 3:13 pm

Thanks for this! I love to read about sunscreens.

My question is a bit different: I use Olay’s sensitive day cream with SPF15 if I don’t spend more than 20 minutes outside (instead of the usual SPF 50 Japanese sunscreen), but have been wondering if that is enough, because you need to apply a teaspoon of sunscreen to get the entire protection (right?), but I’m not applying that much moisturizer, of course. What do you think?
(I am applying mineral make-up on top.)

beautifulwithbrains January 18, 2012 - 6:43 pm

Julia, you’re welcome. Well, if you’re not applying the recommended amount, then you’re getting a much lower level of protection (about SPF 4 or 5). If only spend 20 minutes outside a day (and stay away from windows too), that may just be enough but I would still recommend you apply sunscreen in conjunction with it to be on the safe side. Hope this helps.

Julia January 18, 2012 - 8:03 pm

Thank you! Hm, I was afraid it would be like that. Better apply sunscreen instead.

beautifulwithbrains January 18, 2012 - 8:49 pm

You’re welcome.

Comments are closed.