Slathering on SPF on a daily basis can seem like a chore, especially if you don’t have one that you particularly love. It’s the grand finale to one’s skincare routine and a step that you certainly don’t want to skimp.
While SPF is a super important step to fighting anti-aging every stage of life, it doesn’t do its job without some exceptions. We know of few rules when it comes to sunscreen other than ‘reapply’ and always check the expiration dates. But as it turns out, SPF is a bit more complicated than we think. You can actually ruin the efficacy of your SPF before it even reaches your face.
The skincare faux pas in question? Mixing your SPF with other products. The most common case is mixing with moisturizers.
This is something everyone is guilty of doing at least once in their lives, following suit with pimple popping and falling asleep with makeup on. Everyone is always looking for ways to cut down the length of their routine but let it be known that this ‘hack’ is simply not it.
Doctorly Sunscreen Recommendations
Dr. Caren Campbell, a San Francisco-based Board Certified Dermatologist, explained to Cherie user @oliviacefalu, it’s all about keeping the formula stable.
Stop mixing SPF and moisturizers
Basically, it all comes down to chemistry. Sunscreen is heavily tested, regulated, and managed by the FDA more than any other type of skin care product on the market. It’s something made to deliver daily protection and we have to be able to rely on it for safety purposes.
“It’s [ sunscreen ] been rigorously tested by the FDA in its current formulation and you are diluting it, altering it and potentially decreasing its effectiveness when you mix it with other topicals for the skin,” explains Dr. Campbell.
2-in-1 SPF moisturizers are ok!
Don’t panic. And certainly don’t run to dump your SPF moisturizer or foundation. Consider yourself in the clear. The FDA regulates these formulas, remember? This means your 2-in-1 is intended exactly as it should be and will deliver on its SPF promise!
“Most of the “all-in-ones” contain chemical sunscreens, which do not protect against as broad a spectrum of rays and absorb the UV rays rather than reflecting which can make sun sensitive conditions worse (ie – melasma, rosacea).” says Dr. Campbell.
While 2-in-1 products can deliver on the SPF level that they advertise, they’re not for everyone. And most do not deliver on the broad spectrum front. A long day laying out on the beach under direct sun exposure isn’t exactly the best setting for a 2-in-1.
An occasion that ensures a lower sun exposure risk, like working from home, is perhaps a better choice for this type of product.
If you can weaken SPF in a sunscreen, can you make it stronger?
You sure can! It doesn’t work in the sense that you can turn an SPF 30 into an SPF 50 though. Skincare isn’t that magical, unfortunately. But you can broaden the number of things you’re protected from, like free radicals.
Think of any kind of environmental pollution as a free radical. Things like cigarette smoke, dust, smog, and pesticides can all create free radicals in the air. Free radicals dehydrate your skin over time leading to dullness, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.
“Vitamin C makes your sunscreen work better as it is a topical antioxidant that fights free radical damage from UV rays so applying you vitamin C prior to your sunscreen is a great idea, but not mixing them,” says Dr. Campbell.
Murad’s Essential-C Day Moisture reveals brightness while protecting our skin from UV damage. Antioxidants protect our skin from environmental aggressors including pollution, resulting in a radiant, healthy-looking complexion.
Making sure your morning skincare routine includes a Vitamin C serum or moisturizer (opt for something that doesn’t get washed off) is key in providing your skin the antioxidant protection it needs in conjunction with your SPF.
Stick to layering moisturizer and sunscreen
If you mix your favorite moisturizer with your SPF 30, you can’t exactly count on it delivering that SPF protection level anymore. The active ingredients have been diluted and the formula isn’t in its intended form.
If we’re thinking in terms of how SPF builds a protective barrier on our face, it can’t fully build a barrier against UV light and rays if it’s being broken apart by ingredients in your moisturizer. It can no longer give you the physical or chemical (depending on how you like your SPFs) protection it’s intended to give if it is made to be weak. Try to give it 15 minutes between applying your moisturizer before applying sunscreen.
Mixing the two may have you finished with your skincare routine in record time and you might be achieving a dreamy texture due to your cocktailing efforts. But the bottom line is, if you want to stay as protected as possible you need to layer your products. Or find a 2-in-1 SPF moisturizer if you think it suits your routine and lifestyle better.
Best daily sunscreen for face
Best SPF moisturizer with SPF 50
Most 2-in-1 SPF moisturizers have a lower SPF rating. This is one of the rare quality ones with SPF 50 to make sure you are protected on sunny days.
The IMAGE Skincare PREVENTION+ Daily Ultimate Protection Moisturizer with SPF 50 is a sheer, seamless daily SPF moisturizer with a naturally uplifting aroma from citrus essential oils. Its broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection means high-level sun protection for sports and outdoor activities. This is at the same time as keeping our skin hydrated.
Remember to apply generously 15 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply at least every 2 hours.
Best SPF moisturizer for men
Jack Black Double-Duty Face Moisturizer SPF is a lightweight solution that functions as both a daily broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 20) and an advanced facial treatment. The emollient formula dramatically enhances the overall look of the skin. The product contains strong antioxidants and vitamins, as well as UVA/UVB protection to help fight against sun-induced aging. It can also soothe irritation if it’s used after shaving.
Best Anti-aging SPF moisturizer
Vichy’s LiftActiv Sunscreen Peptide-C Face Moisturizer is a daily facial sunscreen and anti-aging moisturizer with SPF 30 UVA/UVB protection. Dermatologist-recommended mix including Vitamin C, Phyto Peptides, and Vichy Volcanic Water. It’s also allergy-tested with a gentle flowery scent. It’s particularly effective against wrinkles, dark spots, and dullness. The Peptides & Vitamin C can brighten & firm up skin, while moisturizing the skin.
Hyram approved sunscreens
Don’t forget to check out our really popular article on the best of Hyram’s recommended sunscreens with zinc oxide, and drugstore and Korean recommendations as well.