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How to Layer Sunscreen and Makeup Like a Pro

Wearing sunscreen is skin care law. We know this. However, we tend to lean on the SPF in our foundations, creams and cover-ups and skip out on wearing what we lovingly refer to as “the goopy stuff.” The problem with that is (buzzkill alert), you have to apply a lot of makeup to receive the benefits.

Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and associate clinical professor of dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center, explains that most women don’t apply enough makeup to get the SPF indicated on the label. “If you are applying a lot of makeup, then yes [it’s OK],” she says. Otherwise, wearing a layer of actual sunscreen is probably still the safest bet.

That said, it can be oily and it can feel heavy. I get it, but there are so many lightweight and matte sunscreens on the market now that those excuses are drying up quickly. I talked to Tanzi as well as professional makeup artist Ivy Boyd about the best way to layer sunscreen under makeup. It turns out there are some secrets to help you smooth out the sunscreen process.

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Image: SheKnows/Gabriela Arellano

First and foremost, know there are two different types of sunscreen — chemical and physical — and the type you have makes a big difference in the layering process.

Chemical sunscreens have to absorb into your skin to work, so it’s best to apply chemical sunscreens before your regular moisturizer. That way, it doesn’t block the SPF from absorbing to the max.

Physical sunscreens sit on top of your skin and protect outward. In that case, it’s better to apply your moisturizer before your sunscreen. Then, after you apply makeup, set everything with a mineral sunscreen powder. “Colorescience SPF powders are the absolute purest form of powder sunscreen,” Tanzi says. You can snag them at Sephora for about 60 bucks, depending on the level of SPF you choose.

Boyd recommends also checking the label to see if your sunscreen and makeup are water-based or silicone-based (dimethicone) because if you mix silicone-based products with water-based products, your makeup may not adhere properly. “If your sunscreen is water-based, water-based primer and foundation will be best,” explains Boyd. Her final pointer is to make sure sunscreen fully absorbs before applying any makeup. “If you don’t, it could cause makeup to pill up or slide around,” she says.

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And just like that, with a few tips from pros, wearing sunscreen under your makeup isn’t so bad. Not to mention, the results should be healthier, more protected skin.

This post was Sponsored by Olay.

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