Can I Use Foundation with SPF as a Sunscreen?

Can I Use Foundation with SPF as a Sunscreen

Sunscreen with a good Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is one of the most essential skincare products. Many people believe that skipping sunscreen from their skincare regime will not cause any harm, especially when they are applying makeup. It’s a misconception that the layers and layers of makeup can protect the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays.

In this regard, many cosmetic brands have launched makeup products with certain SPF. Today, you can find moisturizers, hydrators, toners as well as foundations with SPF. It makes people wonder if SPF foundations work and if they provide complete protection from harmful ultraviolet rays.

The work of the foundation is to make the skin smooth, creating a perfect canvas for applying further makeup products such as concealer, bronzer, etc. In this article, we will learn if applying SPF foundation will suffice the need for sun protection or if you need sunscreen to safeguard the skin.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF)

Sun Protection Factor

SPF or Sun Protection Factor is a word associated with sunscreen, mentioned on the label of the product. It measures how well a sunscreen protects the skin from harmful UVB rays that can cause sunburn and in severe cases skin cancer (1).

The digits following the SPF represent a percent of UVB rays your sunscreen will safeguard you from. For instance, SPF 15 means that it will take 15 times longer for the skin to burn when using the sunscreen compared to not using any sunscreen at all.

The higher the SPF, the more you are protected from the UV rays.

What Does SPF in Foundation Means?

Foundation with SPF (2) means that a specific amount of sunscreen has already been added to your foundation to protect the skin from harmful sun rays. Usually, the amount of sunscreen added to the foundation is very little, so it is recommended to apply an additional layer of sunscreen under your makeup.

Does SPF in the Foundation Actually Work?

Does SPF in the foundation actually work

The benefits of sunscreen are indisputable. If you have got it in your foundation, your skin will be protected from harmful ultraviolet rays to some extent. However, here it is important to know that the effectiveness of SPF foundation depends upon the following-

  • What is the SPF level
  • How much amount of foundation is applied
  • How evenly it is applied

Usually, foundation is applied with the intention to create a smooth skin over which you can apply further makeup products and not with the purpose to get sun protection. At the same time, the level of SPF in foundations is less compared to sunscreens.

Therefore, the SPF in the foundation does not work entirely as a sun protection.

However, if you are seeing your foundation as the only way to provide sun protection too, its SPF needs to be higher to offer complete protection against UVB rays. Likewise, you need to apply it generously which may hamper the intent of foundation and make the makeup look too heavy or cakey.

Just because a makeup product has SPF, does not mean it provides complete protection from sun rays. Even though SPF foundation typically contains sunscreen ingredients like titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or chemical UV filters that help to block or absorb UV radiation, you need to apply it in a good amount for complete protection.

How to Use a Foundation with SPF the Correct Way?

You can use the SPF foundation as a top-up, and apply a gentle layer of your favorite sunscreen before you start doing makeup (3). Sunscreen should be used after moisturizer, and over the layer of sunscreen, you can apply further makeup products, including SPF foundation.

Here are the steps to use SPF foundation for the best results-

1. Apply sunscreen: Take a generous amount of sunscreen and apply it on your face and neck evenly. Allow it to absorb for a few minutes before proceeding to the next step.

2. Apply SPF foundation: Take foundation with broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays to enhance protection. Here’s what you need to keep in mind-

  • Apply it evenly on the face, blending it outwards towards the jawline and hairline.
  • Focus on parts of the face that are more exposed to the sun, such as the nose, cheeks, forehead, and chin.

3. Apply other makeup products: Now, you can proceed to other makeup products to complete your look.


Using sunscreen is vital for our skin as it helps to keep us safe against harmful UVB rays that can cause severe skin diseases and early signs of aging. Using makeup products with SPF works like a top-up of sunscreen.

However, if you are using SPF foundation as the only sun protection measure, you need to reapply it after regular intervals. Certain activities such as sweating or rubbing can wear off the foundation over time. As a result, reapplying it, ideally after every two hours will ensure proper sun protection.

So, the answer to, does SPF foundation works is YES; however, it is not a full proof way to keep the skin safe from harmful UV rays.

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