How To Reapply Sunscreen While Wearing Makeup

by Gio
how to reapply sunscreen while wearing makeup

I know what you’re here for. You want me to tell you which sunscreen you can apply over a full face of makeup without messing anything up.

Tough luck: that sunscreen doesn’t exist. Yet.

Touching up your sunscreen means compromising on something: you either reapply your morning sunscreen and redo your makeup or you leave your makeup intact and use a product with SPF that gives you a little less protection.

What you can’t do is NOT reapply any SPF at all. Even though you can’t see it, UV rays can wreak some serious damage on your skin and leave wrinkles and dark spots in their trail… before you’ve hit the big 3-0.

Applying sunscreen in the morning is NOT enough. You have to reapply it throughout the day. It’s all about finding the best compromise that works for your lifestyle.

So I’m gonna tell you how I’m doing it. Here are my tips to reapply sunscreen without messing up your makeup:

Start With A Strong Sunscreen Base

It’s true that sunscreen doesn’t last all day. The more sunlight UV filters are exposed to, the sooner they degrade and stop working. They get used up on the job, you know what I mean?

But if you apply the recommended amount of sunscreen (1/4 of a teaspoon for the face only) first thing in the morning, your sunscreen will last you longer than if you just slathered on a thin layer.

Then, give it time to settle. Wait at least 15 minutes before putting on your foundation. When you do, stipple it on with a stippling brush or pat it on with a beauty blender.

Don’t rub the foundation on with your fingers or a brush or you’ll brush off some of the sunscreen, too. Yes, it takes more time but it’s worth the hassle.

P.S. The more products you apply on your face after sunscreen, the higher the chance you’ll rub some of it off. I’m not saying to keep your makeup minimal. If you like a full face, go all out. Just be mindful of how you’re doing it.

Related: How To Apply Foundation Without Messing Up Your Sunscreen

Now you have a strong base on, how do you reapply sunscreen without messing up your makeup? For me, it all depends on the weather and what I’m doing that day. Here’s what I mean:

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:

How To Reapply Sunscreen On Indoor Days

You know what days I’m talking about. It’s the middle of winter. The sun bothers to shine for only a few short hours – and it’s hidden behind clouds most of the time.

The temperatures are freezing cold. You shiver every time you set foot outside the house. If you didn’t have to go to the office, you wouldn’t venture out at all (if you’re like me and work from home, you may not go out for days…).

These are the kind of days when you think you don’t need sunscreen. Think again. UVA rays can penetrate through clouds and windows. You’re not safe just because you’re indoors and can’t see the sun.

But on these days, you can get away with reapplying sunscreen a little less often. As your sunscreen isn’t exposed to that much sunlight, it will degrade – and lose its effectiveness – more slowly.

On days like these, I usually retouch my sunscreen with a powder with SPF at least once or twice. Powders with SPF don’t give you as much protection as sunscreen, but every little bit helps, right?

Plus, they won’t mess up your makeup. Just make sure you apply them as generously as you can without getting the cakey look.

Related: Do Cosmetics With SPF Provide Adequate Sun Protection?

How To Reapply Sunscreen On warm And Sunny Days

Spring is finally here. The sun is shining, the temperatures are warming up and you feel like going for a walk in the park. Or maybe you’re sitting near your office window all day and getting more than your fair share of UV light without stepping foot outside for long.

On days like this, I tone down my makeup. I don’t give up on it because hey, I like makeup. But instead than going for a full face, I do a simple makeup look.

I start by applying a thin layer of foundation, dab concealer and apply a cream blush. A little eyeshadow and mascara for the eyes. I finish off the look with lipstick.

You can apply a bit more but I like to keep it simple, so if something goes wrong with sunscreen reapplication, I don’t have too much touching up to do.

How do I reapply sunscreen on warm and sunny days? I use a spray sunscreen or a mist with SPF.

I know, I know… I’ve always said I don’t like spray sunscreens and that’s still true. You can’t really see spray sunscreens or mists so it’s harder to tell if you’ve applied enough or if you’ve covered every spot.

On the other hand, it’s their clear texture that makes them perfect for sunscreen reapplication. You can spray them on a full face of makeup and gently pat it in without smearing foundation or mascara off your face.

Let’s be clear: I would NEVER use spray sunscreen or a mist with SPF as my base sunscreen in the morning. But it’s a good compromise on days when you want to reapply sunscreen without messing up your makeup.

Related: The Truth About Spray Sunscreens: Do They Provide Adequate Sun Protection?

How To Reapply Sunscreen On Burning Hot Summer Days

Summer’s in full swing. The days are so hot, you’re sweating buckets even when you sit still. You’re spending all your free time outside. Picnics in the parks. Holidays at the beach. Day trips to nearby sea towns.

On days like these, there’s no compromise: you need to reapply sunscreen.

I wear minimal makeup to make reapplication easier. Plus, what’s the point of applying foundation if it’s just going to melt off your face?

Instead than foundation, I just dab a little concealer on problem areas, like under my eyes, and a cream blush on my cheeks. Cream eyeshadow, a touch of mascara and a slick of tinted lip balm finish off the look.

After 2 hours of outdoor fun, I just reapply my morning sunscreen in circular motions all over my face. Chemical sunscreens are better for this. They have lightweight textures that you can reapply on top of makeup without messing it up too much.

I reapply mineral sunscreens only when I’m not wearing any makeup at all. What can I say? Sometimes, I feel like going out bare faced. It just depends on how hot it is.

Related: Chemical VS Physical Sunscreen: Which One Is Right For You?

How do you reapply your sunscreen when you’re wearing makeup? Share your thoughts in the comments below.



Trisha November 19, 2013 - 6:03 pm

Great tips, Gio! I like using a tinted SPF on the hot days so I still have a makeup-y finish if I reapply.

beautifulwithbrains November 22, 2013 - 9:44 am

Trisha, that’s a great trick! 🙂

Janessa November 20, 2013 - 1:38 am

I’ve been in a cave since I’ve been here at school but I do go running (you’re probably like eww, no! Haha I remember you asked if we liked running or something else in a Sunday Ramblings post) in the morning a few times a week just so I stay somewhat active and healthy. 🙂

I reapply my sunscreen using one with physical ingredients in there, even if it’s a mixture of organic sunscreen as well just so I don’t have to wait for the ingredients to react with my skin. If I have makeup on and I need to reapply sunscreen, my face is probably gross and iffy so I will use a cleansing water (I don’t have to rinse off) onto a cotton pad and wipe my whole face before reapplying sunscreen then some blush and concealer, etc. 🙂

beautifulwithbrains November 22, 2013 - 9:47 am

Janessa, I do hate running! lol. But it is a great way to keep fit, if you enjoy it. 🙂

And I love your way of reapplying sunscreen. Using a cleansing water that doesn’t need to be rinsed off is a great idea.

Marianthi November 20, 2013 - 10:35 pm

I always wondered about that. Thank you for sharing, Gio!

beautifulwithbrains November 22, 2013 - 9:48 am

Marinathi, you’re welcome. I’m glad you found it useful!

Ana November 21, 2013 - 6:05 am

I’ve been thinking about sunscreen quite a lot lately.

Is the price real or is it inflated?
There are those tales that producing a tube of lipstick costs 0.21$ or something and that everything beyond that is branding and fancy packaging.

If sunscreens were being sold in tubs, and not in body lotion sized bottles, I believe people would be more open to the idea of using the right amount of sunscreen.

Sunscreens need to become cheaper.
If their price isn’t real, the companies need to adjust it.
If their price is real, the governments need to subsidize it – it’s of public health interest.

beautifulwithbrains November 22, 2013 - 10:01 am

Ana, I couldn’t agree more. Deciding a price is not easy because you have to take so many things into consideration. There’s the cost of the ingredients, of the packaging, of your employees, of marketing, and of all the thousands of expenses a company incurs to operate efficiently. Then you have to take into consideration your market. I heard that some brands charge less in some countries because they know the people there wouldn’t buy their products otherwise. And if you’re a luxury brand, you have to make people pay for the exclusivity. And then of course if one of your competitors raises the prices, brands in the same price range tend to do so too so that consumers won’t think their products cost less because they don’t work as well…

It’s a complicated matter and one on which there should be more clarity. Companies should be forced to explain to their consumers exactly what it is that they are paying for and how they came up with that price, imo. And if it is too high, reduce it. Especially when it comes to sunscreen. Not everyone can afford to buy a new bottle every few days/weeks (depending on where you live and how much time you spend outdoors), which is what you need to do if you were to apply it correctly. And if you don’t, it could seriously damage your health. *sighs*

Regn November 24, 2013 - 9:17 pm

I just can’t imagine applying sunscreen over make-up. Am I supposed to mix the foundation that already is on my face (including some oil, dirt and sweat) with fresh sunscreen? Applying it on my whole face without messing up seems to be really impossible. I always have problems with reapplying my eyecream (I get really dry around my eyes, so I need to do it). I also can’t imagine wearing makeup without any powder whatsoever, especially on hot days. My skin is normal/dry, but I tend to sweat a lot, so powder is a must for me. Why does it have to be so difficult? *sigh*

beautifulwithbrains November 24, 2013 - 10:11 pm

Regn, I know. Applying sunscreen on top of makeup can be quite gross, which is why, on days when I spend a lot of time outdoors, I like to wear only minimal makeup. Applying sunscreen over a thin layer of tinted moisturizer and a hint of cream blush isn’t as bad as applying it over a full face of makeup. In that case, it’d be better to remove everything, reapply sunscreen and redo your makeup. Although, if you sweat a lot, then chances are your makeup may have melted too, so reapplying sunscreen shouldn’t be too difficult.

H January 9, 2016 - 6:21 pm

Just get a mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide/and or titanium dioxide. Then unless you are swimming/sweating and/or it is melting off your face you don’t have to reapply the entire day. mineral sunscreens don’t degrade their protection abilities because the rays of the sun don’t really absorb and just reflect the uva and uvb rays.

Gio January 9, 2016 - 9:34 pm

H, that’s great advice. Their lasting power is one of the reasons why I love them so much. They’re much more convenient than chemical sunscreens indeed.

H January 9, 2016 - 6:14 pm

Unless you are sweating like crazy and/or are outdoors doing something like volleyball, you don’t have to reapply your mineral sunscreen. On days of casual sun expose, work and running errands you can forgo the reapplication because it is not necessary, unless it’s melting off your face. The reason why is that it is photo stable and does not lose its spf and uva protection like chemical ones do. Those “reapply every 2 hours” directions are just there because those directions are standardized, and every water resistant sunscreen has to have them. You never mentioned in your article that they don’t degrade in sunlight. That leaves people to believe that they do, like the chemical ones.

Gio January 9, 2016 - 9:35 pm

H, you are right. I should have mentioned that. Thank you for pointing that out, and for your thoughtful comments. It’s very helpful.

R August 22, 2019 - 11:14 am

So if I apply a mineral sunscreen in the morning, I don’t need to reapply through the day unless I sweat it off or am in constant direct sunlight?
If I’m inside most of the day, but run errands outside for an hour or so and I’m in the car, do I need to reapply then?
If I work a 9-5 and I apply in the morning, drive to work, spend the majority of the day inside (let’s say I take my lunch hour outside), when/if do I need to reapply? I know this is a lot but I’m confused about reapplying mineral sunscreen since I didn’t know they were different than chemical when it came to protection and longevity.
Love this website! It’s my go-to for understanding products and picking which ones. Thanks Gio!

Gio September 14, 2019 - 7:14 pm

R, mineral sunscreen last a little longer, but that doesn’t mean that you can skip reapplication. Unless it’s winter and the sun sets early, I always recommend applying at least once during the day.

Julia de Vasconcellos Castro August 2, 2019 - 5:08 pm

I don’t use makeup and I wouldn’t mind reapplying sunscreen… I always used a good amount in the morning but I work in a very closed space far far far away from any windows, so usually I don’t see the point to reapply. However I always fell the need to reapply moisturize (it is a very dry work environment) and I always wondered if that would mess up my morning sunscreen application

Gio August 8, 2019 - 4:33 pm

Julia, I don’t see why it would, unless you’re rubbing that moisturizer in so hard to remove the sunscreen.

Heidi Ng August 2, 2019 - 11:38 pm

Hi Gio! Thanks for the informative post. What is your favorite mineral body lotion/sunscreen for everyday use? I’m looking for a zinc oxide sunscreen that isn’t sticky and that I can leave by the front door and put on quickly before I leave the house. I don’t spend much time outdoors but I do live in a sunny climate and am in my car a few times a day.

Gio August 8, 2019 - 4:14 pm

Heidi, try EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47.

LMG August 11, 2019 - 2:45 pm

I put a ton of Clarins UV plus 50 on in the morning then touch it up around lunchtime with a factor 30 tinted moisturiser like Nars, or if it’s very bright I put some more Clarins on. Doesn’t seem to interfere that much with my makeup. Unfortunately am in an office with two big windows so it’s the same pretty much all year round, especially at I’m experimenting with vitamin A!

R August 22, 2019 - 11:53 am

Supergoop has “Defense Refresh Setting Mist” which is a chemical sunscreen setting spray. As long as you apply enough, would it be effective?
(Here’s a link to it)
I’ve seen mattifying sunscreens ( and tinted sunscreens (not cc creams or tinted moisturizers) and tinted sunscreens. Are these effective?
Do I need to look at the % of the active ingredients? (zinc oxide alone in concentrations > 20%, or combined with the efficient UVB filters titanium dioxide or encapsulated octinoxate at 7.5%.)

Gio September 14, 2019 - 7:11 pm

R, ALL SPF products have been tested to provide the SPF stated on the bottle – as long as you apply the recommended amount of 2mg/cm2


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