Q: How Do I Re-Apply Sunscreen Without Ruining My Makeup?

"I don't think anyone is going to wash their makeup off and re-apply every two hours."
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"I don't think anyone is going to wash their makeup off and re-apply every two hours."

Yesterday, I announced the official arrival of Self-Tanner Time. (As well as Hammer Time, but that's neither here nor there.) And y'all know what comes hand in hand with faux tanning: a liberal and frequent application of sunscreen. Now, technically, if I may do the beauty editor preachy thing here, you guys should be wearing this stuff year-round—even if we do live in a country where we're lucky if the sun comes out between November and March. But summer is obviously more cruel, UV-wise, and so it's extra important to slip, slap, slop (as they say Down Under) EVERY TWO HOURS... even if you're only stepping outside for 10 minutes to grab your lunch.

Yep, whether you're using an SPF 6 (you really shouldn't) or an SPF 20 million (okay, they really only go up to 110 now), They.All.Only.Last.Two.Hours. Got it? So even if you've applied in the morning, it will have worn off by mid-day, which means that 10 minutes you're walking around outside at lunch can both age and burn, baby.

Here's where the "but" comes in. (You knew it was coming.) Let's be realistic. We all love makeup here. We all like to look purty. And sorry derms, but we're just not down with slathering on some greasy, thick, oily sunscreen that's going to ruin our expertly applied primer, foundation, concealer and iridescent complexion illuminator (!). Sure, we'll diligently apply our SPF in the morning, but at lunchtime? Ain't gonna happen.

So what's a girl to do? This is the dilemma presented to yours truly by reader Joanna, who writes:

Hi Michelle! After years of not caring about the effects of UV rays, I plan to use my sunscreen religiously this summer. However, after reading some of your sunscreen posts, I know that sunscreen doesn't last for more than 2 hours, regardless of the SPF level. This is problematic for people who wear makeup as I don't think anyone is going to wash their makeup off and re-apply every two hours. One recommendation you made was using something like the Colorescience mineral powder foundation which has a built-in SPF. However, you don't seem to be a fan of mineral powders lately AND I don't want to add more make up to my face when I'm just looking to apply sunscreen. Are there any sunscreen products on the market that can be applied throughout the day which won't ruin my makeup or add more makeup to my face?? Please help!! :)

First of all, a hearty round of applause for Joanna's newfound commitment to SPF. I've said it before and I'll say it again: no derm is capable of having a conversation about aging without mentioning sunscreen as the number one most important thing you can do as prevention. Trust me—the number of these interviews I've done is probably well into the triple-digits by now. If you don't wanna look old, you simply MUST wear it.

I think it's time for me to do my annual posting of the old wrinkly beach lady, don't you?

But now to the issue at hand. Rather handily, I DO have some suggestions for getting around the SPF thingie without wrecking your makeup! Because I like nothing more than to be servicey, obvs.


This is a supremely lightweight, portable mineral powder with built-in SPF 30 that comes in, as you can see, three shades. (Well, technically "All Clear" is a non-shade.) You might remember the Colorescience brand from when I raved about it here, and so I can attest from a couple years' of use that these powders are TOPS. Even if I did say I'm a little bit against both mineral powders in general as well as re-applying mineral powders over the rest of your makeup throughout the day.

Let me tell you why these get a pass: they're crazy, crazy lightweight. So much so that when I first got my sample, I was convinced there was some inner packaging I didn't dismantle—I really did think that the powder wasn't dispensing because I couldn't see it! (Finally I convinced myself something was happening by dusting it all over my hands... eventually they got a little dry.) So if that doesn't scream "perfect solution to the sunscreen application problem," I don't know what does. Find these at physicians offices and medispas (for locations call 1-800-668-5236); price is $63 but it should last you a long time.


I've been using this compact for years (okay, I think I'm on my third now)—even though, as I said, I'm "against" mineral powder. Just super-handy to have around when you want to be kind to your skin... or you need a sunscreen! How about that.

Now, technically Pure + Simple does not claim the SPF content because they haven't had them tested for SPF coverage. The amount of sunscreen ingredients varies by colour but ranges from 1-5 percent zinc oxide and 5-20 percent titanium dioxide, just to give you a ballpark. Their closest competitor, formula-wise, is the Jane Iredale Pressed Powder Foundation, which has 3 percent zinc oxide and 17 percent titanium dioxide and is rated an SPF 20.

I don't know about you, but that info's good enough for me! I like this one when I need a bit more coverage. And funnily enough, I actually prefer it over the Jane Iredale, which I DID end up buying but is a bit too heavy and powdery for my liking. You should have no problem putting the Pure + Simple powder all over your regular makeup without messing it up... just don't dewit too many times or I'll have to send the Cakey Face Makeup Police after you.



Everybody's talking about this one lately! At least in beauty circles, which is where I roll. I was lucky enough to get my hot little hands on a sample, and can tell you that it's pretty impressive indeed. I liken it to a VERY light tinted moisturizer—like the lightest tinted moisturizer you've ever used. It has just a slight tint (a universal one, so you don't have to worry about finding your perfect shade) and would be just fab over top of any regular makeup to get you all dewy and glowy but not greasy. (OR you might just want to use this instead of your other prodz, it's that good.) What is also awesome is that the SPF is non-chemical (notice a theme here?) and you get bonus anti-aging ingredients such as alpha-lipoic acid and DMAE. I love me some Perricone... he's a very smart man.

(In a pinch, however, probably any lightweight tinted moisturizer would work too as a midday sun protection fix...)



This one is purely for the normal-to-oily skin types out there, because what it's going to do is mop up your shine while adding a layer of invisible SPF protection. Now, mattifiers can be drying and you will need to put it all over your face (other than the eye area), so tread carefully with this one. It would be nice if it came in a higher SPF too (derms like at least a 30), but it's better than nothing.

Tell me:

Did you know sunscreens only last two hours?
If you did know this, then do you ever actually re-apply?
Yes? Then tell us what you use! Ain't much out there in terms of options...