Is the SPF in my makeup enough for adequate protection? | Ask Doctor Anne

If my foundation already has an SPF, do I really need a separate sunscreen? Yes.
Does that mean the SPF in makeup or moisturizers is worth less than the SPF in a dedicated sunscreen? No!
Confused again? I totally get that.


Is the SPF in my makeup enough for adaequate protection?
Is the SPF in my makeup enough for adequate protection?


So let me explain why the SPF in makeup products is on the one hand absolutely legitimate, but you on the other hand should not rely on it exclusively for your protection!


klairs Mochi BB Cushion Pact
klairs Mochi BB Cushion Pact SPF 40 PA++


I bet you have something like that in your stash as well: a foundation with SPF 15. Or maybe even higher, with SPF 40, like the klairs one pictured above. Or your day cream claims to have sun protection. And you probably looked at it and wondered: Will it give me enough protection?
The answer is probably no, but let´s look at it in depth.



What do the SPF claims in products mean

Any product, no matter if it is sunscreen, foundation or day cream, that wants to claim a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) needs to undergo the same testing. If you do NOT undergo the testing, you can not put an SPF claim on your product.

That doesn´t mean that said product has no sun protection, it might as well have all the filters in the ingredient list, but as long as it hasn´t been properly tested, you can´t say it has SPF.

In fact there are a ton of products especially in the makeup section that probably have a certain protection value, but no claims.

Why? Because testing is expensive and complicated.

That is also the explanation why a foundation might claim an SPF in one country, but not in another – the formulation is the same, but the tests haven´t been conducted for that specific country.
Bottom line is: When a foundation says it has an SPF of 40, it has an SPF of 40, and that is the same SPF 40 that a sunscreen would have.
So yes, the foundation provides an SPF 40 if….


Why you probably don´t get the proclaimed SPF from your foundation

… if you apply the same amount that was used in testing. As I said in my previous video about „How much sunscreen do I need“, you will only get the claimed protection factor if you apply the correct amount.

And that amount is, as a rule of thumb, 2mg/cm square on your face. Which is a lot! I actually measured it out in the video, so you are more than welcome to take a look.

If you apply 75% of that, you will only get half of the proclaimed protection, if you apply half of an SPF 50, the effective protection factor you will get is SPF 10.

And that is exactly why you can not rely on your makeup for adequate protection: No one would ever apply 2mg/cm square of foundation to their face!

Well, there are actually a few people that did it, just to prove how awful that looks, so google that if you don´t believe me.

With foundation, you use a few drops, with your moisturizer you use the least amount you can get away with – after all you want your skin to feel smooth and hydrated, not suffocated by a thick layer of product.

So as long as you don´t really cake it on, you will not get effective sun protection and need to wear a dedicated sunscreen – even on cloudy days and indoors.


And that sums up why, despite the fact that your makeup has a real SPF, you still can’t rely on it for protection!

More sunscreen questions? I have a ton of posts on that topic here.


Is the SPF in my makeup enough for adequate protection?
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