Here's Why Your SPF Foundation May Not Be Giving You Enough Protection

Guille Faingold/Stocksy

With the summer months right around the corner, and some nice weather already in our midst, it makes sense that most of us are starting to think more about upping our SPF game. While it's advisable to wear sun protection year-round, UV rays are far stronger during the hotter months, so it's time to sit up and take it seriously. But do we really have to apply a separate SPF, and does our foundation work as sunscreen? Let's look into it.

First things first, some foundations do have SPF properties in their formula. While foundation itself is not a product that protects the skin from damaging UVA and UVB rays from the sun, many formulas now do come with a built-in SPF factor. In fact, most brands are leaning towards launching sun-safe makeup formulations as they realise how sun savvy we've all become. But is that enough?

While a huge amount of foundations now do provide SPF protection, discovering if that coverage is sufficient is an entirely separate issue. Unfortunately, many experts agree that simply using a foundation or BB cream with an SPF factor probably isn't going to keep your skin totally safe from the sun.

“Many people believe that having an SPF in their moisturiser or foundation for example will suffice,” Justine Hextall, consultant dermatologist for La Roche-Posay, told The Independent.

“But, it is important to remember that SPF only refers to protection against UVB. UVA is a longer wavelength that can penetrate glass. It is the main wavelength that damages our collagen and also can increase our risk of skin cancer. As such I recommend a factor 50 sun cream with both good UVB and UVA protection and preferably anti-oxidants to protect against the more visible light spectrum.”

So, does that mean that using foundation with SPF is kind of pointless? Clare O’Connor, UK sun care expert at Boots, doesn't think so. She told The Telegraph that it can be a real benefit in your makeup:

“SPF in makeup isn’t a gimmick, it provides useful additional protection for your face."

She does however recommend using a day cream with SPF, as well as a sun cream for the face, for longer outdoor periods.

It is important to consider that experts also recommend re-applying SPF every two hours, making it difficult for your foundation SPF level to cover you the entire day. That, coupled with the fact that we touch our faces a lot and wipe away makeup, means you should really use more than just foundation with a sun factor. Take a look at some of my favourite foundations, all of which have a SPF factor between 15 to 50, below.

As mentioned, it's still a good idea to opt for a foundation with SPF in it for added protection or a good base layer. But you should also invest in a sunscreen designed specifically for the face, and when it comes to the factor, the higher the better.

Some of my favourites are below, and they are all at least an SPF 30. by Kiehl's, Glossier, and La Roche Posay, and are all at least an SPF 30.