Many makeup products come with SPF 15, 20 or 25 already in them. It might seem like you're getting a two-fer: Your makeup needs to be taken care of as well as sun protection.
A recent study out of England tested how well people use sunscreen versus moisturizer with an SPF in it. Turns out, people were much more likely to miss areas of the face, especially around the eyelids, when they used moisturizer with SPF in it rather than a sunscreen. Moisturizer is a thicker product, but you need to use a lot to get the protection you need, and people just don't do it, says Dr. Renee Snyder, a dermatologist with St. David's Medical Center in Austin, Texas.
Another big problem with using makeup or moisturizer with SPF in it as your sun protection is that it has to be reapplied, Snyder says.
"It degrades," Snyder says. "No sunscreen can last more than two hours."
How realistic is it to think that every two hours you're going to reapply makeup?
"It's hard for a dermatologist to tell someone who is a working female, 'Hey, I know you have a full face of makeup on, go reapply makeup,' " she says.
Instead, her practice sells sunscreen that comes in powder form that can be reapplied on top of makeup. Or you can use a misting sunscreen that you can reapply on top of the makeup. Look for sunscreens for your face that say "noncomedogenic," which means it won't clog the pores and cause acne. In addition, mineral makeup does have some natural protection because of the zinc in it, she says.
A tinted sunscreen can be a good solution because you'll still get some moisture from it. There are also gels, powders and setting mists.
"There's all sorts of stuff girls can use," Snyder says.
Every sunscreen product now has water-resistant claims on it and will tell you how long it is water resistant for. Take that as how long you have before you need to reapply more sunscreen.