As we approach warmer months, I have one thing on my mind: sunscreen. (Forgive me, I'm a beauty editor.) I am a ride-or-die sunscreen user. It's a part of my morning skincare routine no matter the weather or season, but when I start spending more time outside, sunscreen becomes a pivotal part of my beauty routine.
One thing that always puzzles me about sunscreen, however, is reapplication. Conventional wisdom from derms dictates that we should be reapplying sunscreen every two hours (or every 40 to 80 minutes when swimming or sweating). That's easy enough to remember, but what am I supposed to do if I have a full face of makeup on?
Luckily, there's an easy solution for staying protected from the sun without trying to spread sunscreen on top of your makeup. Enter setting sprays with SPF, which make SPF reapplication a breeze, even if you're sporting a full face. I reached out to experts to get the 411 on everything you've ever wanted to know about setting sprays infused with sunscreen.
How do setting sprays with SPF work?
First of all, keep in mind that you shouldn't be replacing your usual SPF with an SPF-laced setting spray. "Setting sprays containing SPF can provide an added benefit for additional UV protection but should not replace use of a regular sunscreen," says Marisa Garshick, board-certified dermatologist. "The setting sprays can be thought of as a cherry on top."
For this reason, you should always start with a normal face sunscreen before you apply your makeup. Use setting spray to supplement and refresh your SPF protection throughout the day, according to Joie Tavernise, NYC-based skin expert, medical aesthetician, and founder of JTAV Clinical Skincare.
What should I look for in setting sprays with SPF?
The SPF number is the most crucial part here. "Look for a formula with SPF 30 or higher," says Rebecca Marcus, board-certified dermatologist. "You can look for a formula that has additional features consistent with your skin type needs. For example, [look for] a mattifying formula if you have oily skin or a hydrating formula if you’re dry."
How do I apply a setting spray with SPF?
Start with a normal face sunscreen, then apply your makeup as usual. "Hold the bottle about six to eight inches away from your face and spray evenly, making sure to cover all areas of your face," says Tavernise. "Allow the setting spray to dry completely before going outside. Reapply the setting spray every two hours if you are spending extended periods of time in the sun."
With all of this in mind, keep reading for the best setting sprays with SPF. These products are all either recommended by derms or tested by our beauty editors.
"Supergoop Defense Refresh is a great formula with mattifying ingredients that can cut down on midday shine and also re-up your SPF throughout the day," says Marcus. "It is safe for all skin types and also waterproof, so it will hold up against sweat and water activities." Garshick also recommends this setting spray, as do I—it's been a staple in my beach bag for years, and I've never gotten a sunburn when I have it with me (and I am extremely, extremely pale!).
"I really like Soleil Toujours Clean Conscious Set + Protect Micro Mist SPF 30," says Tavernise. This sunscreen contains over 70% organic ingredients and comes out in a super-sheer mist. "Ingredients such as red algae, vitamin C, vitamin E, aloe extract, and green tea leaf extract all calm and hydrate the skin."
"This lightweight setting spray contains SPF 30 to offer some UV protection, reduce shine, and help keep makeup in place all day long," says Garshick. "It contains hyaluronic acid to boost moisture as well as aloe vera to soothe the skin and plant extracts to offer antioxidant benefits."
Last summer, none of my beauty products got more play than this refreshing cucumber face spray infused with SPF. It's so easy to use and doesn't feel like sunscreen at all—more like a revitalizing skincare mist. It's also small, so it's airplane friendly—one of my favorite travel hacks!
Our beauty director, Erin Jahns, loves this setting spray with SPF. It has light-diffusing silicone powder to give skin a flawless finish plus hyaluronic acid to plump.
While this sunscreen isn't marketed as a setting spray, it's light enough to do a fantastic job of providing a mist over makeup while also giving you a huge protective boost. At SPF 60, this is a great heavy hitter for anyone who wants a bit of extra protection.
Traditional face sunscreens our editors love for your base protection: