Does SPF Makeup Actually Work? A Dermatologist Weighs In

Even with all the innovations in sunscreen, people will always look for ways to avoid smearing on the stuff. Dropping it into their moisturizer, eating it, never leaving the house... But the most popular option, by far, is picking up SPF-infused makeup. And it makes sense: If you're covering your entire face with it, shouldn't it protect you all the same?
Not exactly, warns dermatologist Josh Zeichner, MD, who says that while SPF makeup is a nice complement, it's no substitute for daily sunscreen. "Makeup with sunscreen can provide some protection, but is not enough," Dr. Zeichner says, adding that SPF foundation labels can be misleading, especially if you're looking for a lightweight finish. "We do not apply as much product as we should to get the SPF labeled on the bottle — and we do not apply it to all the areas that we need, including the neck and the ears. If you used as much makeup as one would need to get adequate sun protection, your face will likely look caked on."
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While Dr. Zeichner affirms that SPF-infused foundations can provide some added protection, the best practice is to use them in tandem with sunscreen. "Apply a light, high SPF sunscreen to your full face, " Dr. Zeichner recommends. "Then, you can apply your makeup over it. I always think it is a good idea to layer sunscreen products."
Ahead, check out some of our favorite SPF makeup products from the drugstore so you can splurge on a quality face sunscreen to use with them.
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This foundation is great for those who struggle with dryness, even in the humid summer months. The creamy formula offers light to medium coverage and a dewy finish that never looks greasy.
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Celebrity makeup artist Allan Avendaño used this multitasking BB cream to give Camila Cabello her Grammys' glow — so you know it's good.
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If summer is wreaking havoc on your skin, this lightweight foundation will cover breakouts, without causing even more to pop up.
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Physicians Formula is a great pick if you have sensitive skin; it covers redness and bumps without stinging or flaking.
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Janelle Monáe swears by this full-coverage liquid, which comes in 14 shades.
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This lightweight formula doesn't just cover spots and bumps; it also blurs lines and wrinkles without settling into them.
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