Sorry, But SPF-Infused Makeup Doesn't Work—Here's What to Do Instead

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(Image credit: @anaasmood)

I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but there's something we need to talk about. I know it seems convenient to use makeup-skincare hybrids that provide both sun protection and complexion-enhancing benefits, but these kinds SPF-infused products may not be all they're cracked up to be.

According to Azadeh Shirazi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, makeup with SPF in it should be helpful, but it doesn't provide much protection in reality. "You need about seven times the amount of traditional sunscreen when you are counting your makeup as sun protection," she says. "This means you would have to apply a ton of makeup to get the appropriate amount for [proper] sun protection. In reality, people are not going to apply anywhere close to that much foundation. It’s important to keep in mind that the FDA also has a very strict criteria when it comes to what represents sunscreen. Although makeup may be formulated with sun protective ingredients, it doesn't actually qualify as sunscreen unless it meets FDA standards to back up that claim."

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(Image credit: @marina_torres)

Snehal Amin, co-founder and surgical director of MDCS Dermatology, adds that you'll also need something with a stronger SPF. "You also need to use an SPF 30 or greater with broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection to get the anti-aging benefits and skin cancer protection. Another thing to consider is that SPFs commonly used in makeup are chemical sunscreens, such as oxybenzones, which have been shown to be absorbed in the bloodstream. The long-term effects are not known. Chemical sunscreens also need to be applied 20 minutes before exposure to UV rays," he shares.

So what can you do instead? Well, the answer is a bit tricky. You can start by trying an SPF face mist, but there are still a few things to keep in mind. "I find SPF mists most helpful for hard to reach places. SPF mists will protect your skin from damaging UV rays, but only if you apply enough. If you spray an SPF 40 for two to three seconds, you only end up with an SPF 10 protection. Although spray sunscreens are easy to apply, it’s hard to know if you're using an adequate amount to truly protect your skin," says Shirazi. As long as you're aware of the pitfalls, it can still be helpful to use an SPF mist for a little extra protection—especially if you'd like to preserve your makeup. Keep scrolling for a few great SPF face mist options to wear over your day's look and a couple other derm-recommended alternatives. There's something for every budget.

Best Overall: Soleil Toujours Clean Conscious Antioxidant Sunscreen Mist SPF 50

Neutrogena Invisible Daily Defense Face Mist SPF 50

Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Spray SPF 50

Hydropeptide Solar Defense SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray

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(Image credit: @isabellecoheen)

Honest Beauty Save Face Shielding Setting Spray

Vacation Super Spritz SPF 50 Face Mist

Naked Sundays SPF 50+ Hydrating Glow Mist

Habit No. 38 Mister

Pacifica Set & C Protect SPF 45 Matte Sheer Setting Spray

Sun Bum Face Mist SPF 45

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(Image credit: @danishrolls)

Kate Somerville UncompliKated Soft Focus Makeup Setting Spray SPF 50

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Sunscreen Lotion Spray SPF 60

Other Derm-Approved Sunscreens to Wear Over Makeup

Colorscience Sunforgettable Total Protection Sheer Matte Sunscreen Brush SPF 30

Supergoop! (Re) Setting 100% Mineral Powder Sunscreen SPF 35

Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Talc-Free Airbrushing Pressed powder SPF 30

Up Next: We've Tried Every Body Oil on the Market—These 12 Unlock Your Glowiest Skin Ever

This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Shawna Hudson
Associate Beauty Editor

Shawna Hudson has worked in editorial for over six years, with experience covering entertainment, fashion, culture, celebrities, and her favorite topic of all, beauty. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton, with a degree in journalism and has written for other publications such as Bustle, The Zoe Report, Byrdie, Elite Daily, Mane Addicts, and more. She is currently an associate beauty editor at Who What Wear and hopes to continue feeding her (completely out-of-control) beauty obsession as long as she can. Stay up to date on her latest finds on Instagram @shawnasimonee.