web analytics

How to Reapply Sunscreen (While Wearing Makeup)

put your sunscreen on over makeup

If you’ve been reading my sunscreen posts, then you know that it is recommended that you use at least SPF 30, broad spectrum UV coverage (harder to find than you think), apply 1 ounce of sunscreen to your body and 1 teaspoon to your face, and reapply every 2 hours while out in the sun. The reapplication is because we all sweat, so the sunscreen leaves the area you applied it (ever sweat sunscreen into your eyes?), or the sun inactivates your sunscreen (with chemical sunscreens this is by design, the inactivation happens when the sunscreen absorbs that UV energy). So, reapply sunscreen every 2 hours in the sun.

But…. how do you reapply sunscreen every 2 hours while wearing makeup? That’s the big question. It definitely changes how I do my makeup, which products I’ll use and overall my makeup strategy for the day. I’ve been getting a lot of readers wanting to know how I do it.

Depending on what I’m doing in a particular day, I change my sunscreen strategy. Note that everything in this post applies to sunscreen on my face only.

best sunscreens for every day on your face

For a typical day, I do not reapply my sunscreen. These are days that I’m in the car, running to work or around town for errands. Otherwise I’m inside, not even near a window (yes, UVA rays can penetrate windows, did you ever see that picture of a truck driver?) so I don’t really have much sun exposure and certainly not enough to need reapplication.

I do have enough sun exposure that I think I need to wear sunscreen every day. It needs to be in a product that I apply all over my face and in a high enough quantity to actually get the UV coverage I need. Which means that it can’t be in makeup (especially not in powder, I don’t want to apply 1.2g to my face), and I don’t even apply tinted BB cream all over my face enough so that it counts. I usually take a light SPF lotion (I’ve been using Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Lotion SPF 30) and I apply that to my neck and face. If I’m using a BB cream with SPF I’ll either go light in the center of my face or completely skip that area as the BB cream goes there instead. I do make sure to hit the outside of my face along my hair line and jaw line, places where I don’t usually apply the BB Cream. If I’m going with a more traditional foundation then I definitely apply the lotion every where.

Sunscreen strategies for makeup reapplication

On days that I’m planning to spend more time outside, I take a different strategy with my sunscreen products and makeup. This is something that I plan ahead for, and if there’s even just a chance that I’ll be spending more than 45 minutes or so outside (especially if that’s during peak sun hours of 10 am – 2 pm) then I’ll go with this strategy. Note that these days are not meant to be waterproof or sweat-proof, so this is great for a few hours playing outside with my daughter, but I wouldn’t follow these strategies for a day at the beach or a theme park.

I start with my SPF lotion and/or BB Cream. Much like on a normal day, I make sure my entire neck and face are covered by either the SPF lotion or the BB Cream, so I have a base of SPF. If I’m anticipating that I’ll be spending more than a few hours outside, I’ll go the extra step of adding a second SPF on top of this, underneath my makeup. I go for something lightweight with a good SPF like Kiehl’s Super Fluid UV Defense or La Roche Anthelios. I then apply makeup over this lotion/SPF base.

Makeup to wear with sunscreen
Once I’m ready to apply makeup, I go for makeup that can stand up to having more sunscreen slathered on top without looking crazy. This means lightweight, creams or liquids and never powder. Really, no powder.

First, I start with very lightweight coverage where it is needed. I might add a little more BB Cream or use a light foundation like the one from Chanel. You want something that makes things look more even, but definitely shows your skin tone through it. If it smears with sunscreen application it won’t be noticeable, but you’ll still have light coverage.

I still always have under eye issues, so I need concealer. I like to use a more pigmented concealer, here I’ve picture the Amazing Cosmetics Concealer, which I just bought a few days ago. Make Up For Ever Full Cover or IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer are also good choices. I then apply the concealer very strategically to ensure that I’m covering up what I want to cover up, but if things migrate a little bit I will be ok and things will look fine. (Note that in order to do this you really need that concealer to match your skin tone, not be 1-2 shades lighter than your skin.)

I apply the concealer in the dark blue area you’ll see in the picture above. It goes on the inner corner of my eye, under my eye and down the side of my nose a little to create a triangle. I then blend it outward into the lighter blue area. Note in that area I’m only blending into it, I’m not applying more concealer. It should all be flawless in to your skin. This is basically what I described doing in my undereye conceal and correct post, though it’s a bit more of a deliberate triangle. Here I’m applying in the triangle, there I was blending it into one.

I still like to apply a little blush on these days, I’m so fair that going without sometimes prompts those “do you feel ok?” questions that are awkward. I go for a cream blush, it won’t become a gloppy mess when sunscreen goes over it later. I like Maybelline Bouncy Blush (in Fresh Pink), Stila Convertible Color (in Lillium) or NARS Multiple (in Orgasm).

Note that I said no powder. I’ve found that a tiny bit in the t-zone is ok, but not right before you reapply. Only at the time of application to set everything. Typically I’ll apply my makeup, let everything on my face sit for a few minutes (aka- do my eyes or my hair), and then blot gently with a kleenex. You’re trying to get any liquid off of your face, not smear things around. Then a small amount of powder in the t-zone if really necessary. If you’re more than a bit oily, I suggest applying a little CoverFX Custom Blot Drops in areas you get shiny.

Reapplying sunscreen throughout the day

When you’ve been outside for a few hours and it’s time to reapply, choose your sunscreen carefully. I tend to go for a chemical sunscreen for reapplication. The physical sunscreens are thicker and more prone to becoming a mess. They especially like to just sit on top of makeup and leave a white mess instead of applying like they should. Go for the highest SPF that you can stand, and something fairly lightweight. I’ll use either the Kiehl’s Super Fluid UV Defense or La Roche Anthelios again, or sometimes I’ll go for the Aveeno formulation of the summer (yes, it seems to change every summer, but it is better each time. Get the “adult” chemical sunscreen formula).

I put the amount I need for reapplication in my palm. If I don’t have it all there, I tend to skimp on reapplication, and then I regret it later. I dot the sunscreen all over my face, neck (don’t forget the back!) and my ears, and then rub it in. Obviously you can be more vigorous in areas like your neck, but where you’ve applied makeup I generally think it’s best to rub in little circles, don’t move the sunscreen too far, but work fairly quickly. If anything does rub away from its original location, then it hasn’t gone far (that concealer…) and usually you still look fine.

I also really like to use stick sunscreens such as this one. The sticks are great for putting on after reapplying the sunscreen. I do this as a second added layer of protection, mostly to areas that get hit by the sun a lot and are likely to have the sunscreen there rub/sweat off. My nose, the tips of my ears, the front bit of my part, my cheeks… you get the idea. All of those places that I turn pink first.

Tips on how to reapply sunscreen with your makeup

I should probably have reworded this graphic, it sounds very dirty! In actuality, this is what I do when I’ll be outside for long periods of time and will either be getting wet (pool or beach) or it’s very hot & humid so I know that there will be a lot of sweating!

The additional water added means that I can’t use my previous SPF lotion or BB Cream as a sunscreen “base” and expect it to stay put. I can use that lotion if I want for hydration, but I definitely need to apply a waterproof sunscreen over the top. I like Aveeno’s formulas, Coppertone Sport or Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch. I apply this sunscreen over my lotion, and while I do my eyes or my hair I give it about 4 or 5 minutes to sink in to my skin and “set”. I then blot gently with a kleenex to remove any oily residue so that I can apply makeup without dealing with the grossness.

Reapplication is with the same sunscreen (with the addition of a stick sunscreen) in the same manner as above, working in small sections, blot if you need to, don’t forget areas like the tips of your ears!

waterproof makeup to wear with sunscreen

Makeup over the heavier sunscreens and when dealing with wet conditions, is well, much less. I stick to waterproof makeup formulations, and there’s less that you can do to the sunscreen covered areas of your face. I like to use a waterproof concealer, I’ve found that the Lancome Effacernes is the most waterproof, though IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye isn’t far behind and it is more pigmented. I use the concealer just like up above, though I use a little less of it since the sunscreens make it more likely to move around here.

Do you reapply over makeup? Let me know how you do it!

Best Sunscreen Information
Find more information about how sunscreens work, application tips and product reviews in my sunscreen guide

Product Sent for Review, Affiliate Links

Sign up for updates

About Me

Iā€™m a doctor, a mommy and a bit of a beauty addict. If you let me, I can take 2 hours to get ready in the morning. Really. I'm on a quest for faster beauty that works!

Leave a Comment


  1. 5.28.13

    This is such a great post! Now I'm conflicted about my skincare because I've been using Clinique's Moisture Surge and I really love it but it doesn't have SPF. I know you need SPF 30 but if I use SPF 15 moisturizer and SPF 15 foundation, will that work?

    Also while we are on the topic of skin, how often should I be getting a skin check for cancer? I've been getting a full body scan once a year but I've heard of people getting them every 6 months too.

    Lastly, and a little off topic, do you think it matters to your skin's health whether you use organic and natural products? I've been using natural makeup more often lately but have to admit I still love my other "unhealthy" makeup too. Are Revlon, Clinique, Lancome, etc not as good for you because they aren't natural like tarte and bare minerals? This is something I have always been curious about.

  2. 5.28.13
    Yasmin Zc said:

    Someone on YouTube (Sam from the Pixiwoos I think) once said that layering SPF on top of SPF would reduce the SPF factor. Is that true? I always wear SPF in my moisturiser everyday anyway, so this post was super helpful, but I was just curious to know. Thank you x

  3. 5.28.13

    @Yasmin- I've heard makeup artists say that, but it makes NO sense scientifically. Yes, sometimes ingredients can inactivate each other, but it isn't likely with 2 sunscreens. 1 chemical sunscreen and 1 physical sunscreen will just both be there, not canceling out each other.

  4. 5.28.13

    They aren't additive at all, so you're just wearing SPF 15. I'd look for a higher SPF lotion that you like and just stick with your current foundation. That's the "bonus" that is just there, the lotion that you spread everywhere with enough product is what is really protecting you.
    As far as I've heard, they still recommend once a year checks unless you have a personal history of skin cancer. I'm in the ICU though, not primary care, but I think that I would have heard if they'd changed that. šŸ˜€
    As for "natural" vs more traditional products, I'm not of the opinion that something is better or safer just because it is natural. I think knowing what you're putting on your skin is good, and the fewer ingredients the better, but listen to your skin! If it's telling you it needs something, then listen.

  5. 5.28.13

    Lovely post, I really enjoyed it šŸ™‚ Not to be nosy or anything but how old is your daughter? And where to you think you can buy the 'Every Day" topic products? (For the North East Region) Thank you!

  6. 5.28.13

    She's 2! Fun and sometimes, during tantrums, not so fun. LOL

    Kiehl's is available on their website, or they have a LOT of free standing stores. I've also bought it at Neiman's, Nordies and Bloomies.

  7. 5.29.13

    hello, first i would like to say i very thankful for your blog. its so informative, i would like to know what the color or number of the Neutrogena's Healthy Skin Enhancer, i have your same skin tone.

  8. 5.29.13
    kettecske said:

    Thanks for this post! This subject was really in my mind and got almost the same routine you have, unless I don't rub the sun lotion on top of make up but pat it on my face. Personally, I found it ruins it less but it could just be me.

  9. 5.30.13

    @Laura- I was using Fair to Light last year, but after getting my rosacea under a little better control and dying my hair darker and a little red, that was definitely wrong! So, now I'm Ivory to Fair.

    @kettecske- I've tried patting and it hasn't worked well for me simply because I couldn't get the sunscreen to sink in like I wanted it to, though its probably somewhat related to what exact products you're using. I think the important thing FOR SURE is to not just rub and go crazy all over your face, trying to keep things a bit more confined in 1 spot that will be a little easier.

  10. 5.30.13
    Tania said:

    Great post. I've always wondered how to re-apply sunscreen when you have a full face of make up. I never re-apply if I have make up on, if I don't have to go to work, I just won't wear face make up and just sunscreen so I don't have to worry about re-applying.

  11. 7.30.13
    Ola said:

    It is a very useful and informative post, thank you (I have just discovered your blog, and I love it). I am a sunscreen fanatic. I use spf 50+ all year round, partly as cancer prevention, but also to prevent photoaging. I rarely spend a lot of time in the sun (we do not get a lot of it in my country) so I do not reapply on a daily basis. In the summer if I am out, I tend to remove everything and reapply sunscreen to cleansed face. Troublesome, I know but somehow I avoid putting anything on my madeup face.
    It is true different spf in different product don't add up. But it is true that good photostable sunscreen is hard to find. And some spf is likely to be rendered inactive due to ingredients in makeup/powders.

  12. 2.10.14
    Anonymous said:

    Hi, would you recommend to apply mist sunscreen over make up? It's easier to apply the mist rather than the lotion type. Suggestion, please? I am considering to buy mist sunscreen šŸ˜›

  13. 2.10.14

    I don't recommend spray sunscreen ever. The most is basically impossible to know how much to apply, there's talk of taking them off the market for this reason. In addition the most can trigger asthma attacks.