More and more women are relying on their color cosmetics for sun protection. You know that I love combination products, and makeup containing sunscreen is a great example: fewer layers to apply, lower overall expense, etc. But can you rely solely on your makeup with sunscreen for your sun protection?
Makeup with sunscreen screams its protective powers with a conspicuous SPF rating on its label. And you've heard me say many times how strictly regulated SPF ratings are... No one dares overstate their SPF for fear of irreparable damage to their brand reputation from prosecution by both the FTC and the FDA. But just because makeup has an SPF doesn't mean it will provide you with the sun protection you need.
It boils down to three issues.
First, when was the last time you put makeup anywhere on the front or sides of your neck, let alone the back of it, and who really puts makeup on the top of their ears? So clearly, at least these usually neglected areas, if not others, aren't likely to have sun protection.
Next, where you do put makeup, do you apply it uniformly? And even more importantly, do you use enough makeup to contain the amount of sunscreen you need to get the full protection of the rated SPF? Keep in mind that an insufficient amount of sunscreen, especially traditional carbon based sunscreen, causes the SPF to fall dramatically to the square root of the labeled SPF... A 15 becomes a 4 and a 50 becomes a 7. You can't afford to let that happen.
Last, many makeups with sunscreen only have UVB protection since their SPF rating refers only to protection from the UVB rays that cause sunburn, not the UVA rays that cause premature aging of the skin and skin cancer. For the makeup to also block these ubiquitous and dangerous UVA rays, it must be labeled "with UVA protection" or "with broad spectrum protection."
I still love makeup with sunscreen. Just be aware of its limitations. If you're counting on it for sun protection, make sure that ALL sun-exposed areas are adequately covered and that it also has UVA protection. Otherwise, make sure you're using a separate sunscreen, and as always, apply it before you apply your makeup.