When I perform skin cancer screening exams, I often ask my patients if they use sunscreen daily on the face, ears, and neck. Many women respond, “Yes, there’s sunscreen in my foundation.” But is that enough?
According to Dr. Leslie Baumann of the Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute, most women would need to wear 7 times more liquid foundation than they normally wear in order to achieve adequate sun protection. For those who wear powder-based foundations, 14 times more foundation than usual would be required to provide sufficient SPF coverage.
Another important consideration is that most women do not extend foundation below the jawline, which leaves the neck and upper chest exposed. Because these areas are often neglected, they tend to develop brown sun spots and dilated blood vessels from effects of the sun over time.
A simple solution is to apply a lightweight sunscreen or moisturizer with sunscreen daily under makeup. Look for a broad-spectrum formulation that contains zinc oxide. It’s certainly fine to layer on makeup with sunscreen, but don’t rely on it as the sole source of sun protection. Another option is to choose tinted sunscreens, which safeguard against the sun’s rays while helping to minimize mild skin flaws.
My daily regimen includes Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46, a sunscreen designed for skin types that are prone to acne, rosacea, or hyperpigmentation. I have tried numerous facial sunscreens over the years, and this is by far my favorite. It does not feel thick or greasy, and although it contains a generous amount of zinc oxide (9%), it does not leave a white residue on the skin. I apply the Elta MD UV Clear to my face, ears, neck, and upper chest every day without fail, even if I am not planning any outdoor activities. The makeup that I apply afterwards also contains SPF, but it is just icing on the cake!
By: Allison K. Arthur, M.D.