Keep your make-up intact & protect skin from UV rays too, with these expert-approved tips

Sunscreen, we all know we should be wearing it but does concern over ruining your make-up prevent you from reapplying it later in the day? If so, you’re not alone. While using sunscreen in the morning is a key, topping up our sun protection levels throughout the day is  just as important.

As dermatologist Dr Cristina Psomadakis (Dr Soma) points out: “We know that most skin cancers are caused by unprotected long-term exposure to the sun. And, while skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world, it’s particularly prevalent in the UK.”

This is clearly a very serious reason to lather on the sunscreen, but it’s worth pointing out that UV rays can affect our skin in other ways too. “UV rays are the number one cause of skin ageing, which includes wrinkles and pigmentation” says Dr Soma. Safe to say then, that the benefits of wearing sunscreen are pretty far-reaching.

Throughout the day we sweat, touch and wipe our faces. We eat, we cry, we laugh. All of these reduce our sunscreen coverage

Why is it important to reapply your sunscreen?

If you regularly apply sunscreen as the last step of your skincare routine – we’re sending a virtual high five your way! However, be aware that your sunscreen protection reduces over time.

“Throughout the day we sweat, touch and wipe our faces. We eat, we cry, we laugh. All of these actions help reduce our sunscreen coverage as it wears off over the course of the day,” explains Dr Soma.

How often should you reapply sunscreen? Sunscreen needs to be applied liberally, frequently and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It’s also recommended to reapply sunscreen every two hours, as the sun can dry it off the skin.

But what’s the best way to do that and keep our make-up base intact? From application techniques to top products to try, here’s all you need to know about how to apply sunscreen over make-up.

1. Apply enough sunscreen underneath your make-up in the morning

Is it best to put on sunscreen before or after make-up? We suggest that you start with before, making it the final step in your morning skincare routine.

The NHS recommends applying sunscreen twice: 30 minutes before going out into the sun then immediately before going out into the sun for ultimate protection. “Look for products with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 to 50 to help defend against UVB rays,” says Dr Soma. For UVA protection, look for ‘broad spectrum’ products with the highest, five-star rating.

Then, if you’re planning on wearing make-up, carry on as you normally would – your sunscreen needn’t affect your make-up products. In fact, some can act as a primer (extra bonus). Do bear in mind that even if your make-up contains SPF, you’ll still need to apply a separate sunscreen to give your skin the protection it needs and ensure even coverage.

As for how much you should be applying, the NHS recommends six to eight teaspoons if you’re covering your entire body, so be generous with the amount you use on your face. Too thin a layer and the effectiveness of your sun protection will be reduced. It may be better to play safe and apply too much instead of too little.

There are other aspects to remember, when having fun in the sun, to keep yourself and your family as safe and protected as possible.

• Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm.

• Never allow the skin to burn.

• Cover up with suitable clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat and wraparound sunglasses.

• Take extra care with children.

Want to learn how to layer your skincare? Watch our easy-to-follow, step-by-step video for top tips and tricks. Scroll down the page to check out our favourite sunscreens below.

2. Reapply sunscreen lotion with a beauty blender

Once you’ve put on your sunscreen at the start of the day, you may be wondering how you’ll top it up later. Can you really apply sunscreen lotion over your make-up? Absolutely.

One way Dr Soma suggests is to try applying sunscreen with a beauty blender or make-up sponge just as you would your foundation. That way, you’ll have better control.

Simply reapply your sunscreen over make-up using your sponge by squeezing it onto the back of your hand and dabbing it gently over your face.

Worried about leaving a white chalky residue behind? Sunscreens that don’t have a white cast will sink into the skin seamlessly once they’ve been pressed in with your sponge.

Try: Boots Everyday Blending Sponge

• Suitable for all ages

A make-up essential that now has us dabbing instead of swiping. The iconic egg-like shape allows for a more seamless application and will soak up products, like SPF, to evenly smooth them over skin.

3. Use a sunscreen mist

Sunscreen mists, sprays and waters are another way to get your fill of UV protection without disturbing the hard work you’ve put into your make-up.

Because the mists are so thin, they’re not wet and heavy on the face meaning your eyeliner and mascara will stay put, waterproof or not. Quick drying, just spritz over your face in an even layer for skin that’s shielded from the sun’s rays and foundation that stays in place.

4. Use a sunscreen powder

Another type of product you may wish to weave into your suncare routine is a sunscreen powder – particularly if you have an oily skin type.

You might find you need to use more powder than you would with a liquid SPF for the same level of protection, but it’s less likely to spoil your make-up and can actually help perfect areas that are starting to look shiny. Result.

10 of the best sunscreens to reapply over make-up

Ready to protect against UV rays all day every day? These are 10 of our team's favourite sunscreens to wear over make-up.

Shop more top sunscreens in our full range.

For a matte finish

Try: La Roche Posay Anthelios Anti Shine Invisible Fresh Mist SPF50

• Size: 75ml

• SPF50

• High UVA protection

• Matte finish

• Water resistant

A lightweight mist that gives top-level protection without the need for rubbing into skin – ideal for sunscreen reapplication over make-up. Plus, the non-sticky matte finish is suitable for all skin types, whether you’re prone to oiliness or sit on the drier side.

For sensitive skin

Try: Garnier Ambre Solaire Over Make-up Super UV Protection Mist SPF50

• Size: 75ml

• SPF50

• High UVA protection

• Non-comedogenic

• Cruelty free

This mist not only provides great sun protection, it also has anti-pollution properties. Containing vitamin E and hyaluronic acid, it gives long lasting hydration and is a great choice for sensitive skin too.

For wearing over & under make-up

Try: La Roche-Posay Anthelios UVMUNE 400 Invisible Fluid SPF50

• Size: 50ml

• Very high UVA protection

• Suits sensitive skin

• Water, sweat- and sand-resistant

• Boots Beauty Award winner

La Roche-Posay Anthelios UVMUNE 400 Invisible Fluid SPF50 has a thin, milky texture that’s perfect for wearing under make-up, or dabbing gently over your base products. It’s neither sticky nor greasy for minimal disturbance to your handiwork. Simply apply with a sponge as you would your foundation.

For hydration

Try: Vichy Capital Soleil Solar Protective Water Hydrating SPF50

• Size: 200ml

• SPF50

• High UVA protection

• Non-comedogenic

• Cruelty free

Vichy’s misting range is all about hydration. Containing hyaluronic acid and the brand’s special mineralising water, its lightweight formula shields skin from harmful UV rays while adding moisture. Just spritz over make-up to top up throughout the day.

For vegans

Try: Bondi Sands Fragrance Free Sunscreen Face Mist SPF50+

• Size: 79ml

• SPF50+

• UVA protection

• Fragrance free

• Vegan friendly*

• Cruelty free

Although Bondi Sands is mainly known for its tanning products, its suncare range is right up there among our favourites. This vegan-friendly face mist is fast-absorbing and offers high protection – great whether you’re wearing make-up or not.

For a sunscreen powder

Try: Hawaiian Tropic Mineral Sun Protection Powder Brush SPF30

• Size: 4.25g

• Broad spectrum UVA protection

• Mineral-infused formula

•  Translucent powder

• Synthetic bristles

• Light tropical scent

Particularly useful if your skin is on the oilier side, the handy brush makes for precision application of the mineralised formula during top-ups. The powder absorbs any excess oil, leaving your skin with a silky matte finish, while upping the UV protection your skin needs at the same time.

For a lightweight mist

Try: Avène Very High Protection Spray SPF50+

• Size: 200ml

• SPF50+

• UVA protection

• For face and body

• Water resistant

• Sensitive skin

Containing Avène’s famous thermal spring water which soothes and softens skin, this anti-drying sun spray helps keep your complexion comfortable, protected and hydrated. Apply to fingertips and dab onto face and neck for a smooth, seamless finish.

For easy application

Try: Sun Bum Original Sun Cream Spray SPF50

• Size: 170g

• SPF50

• UVA protection

Not only does this sun spray’s dry-touch formula melt into skin, it smells gorgeous. Its easy-to-use nozzle makes it a doddle to top up hard-to-reach areas like your back, and to address your top-to-toe suncare needs.

For fragrance free

Try: Eucerin Oil Control Sun Gel-Cream for Oily and Blemish Prone Skin SPF 50+

• Size: 50ml

• SPF50+

• High UVA protection

• Unperfumed

• Matte finish

If a mist isn’t for you and you’d rather apply a regular sunscreen, take a make-up sponge and dab this high-protection product over your make-up for a shine-free finish. Its dry-touch formula and ultra-light texture is ideal for those with oily skin.

For face & body

Try: Soltan Clear and Cool Protect Suncare Mist SPF50

• Size: 200ml

• SPF50

• 5 star UVA protection

• Water resistant

• For face and body

• Instant cooling effect

• Vegan friendly*

If you’re not keen on spraying sunscreen directly onto your face and like the idea of a lightweight product that isn’t creamy, simply spritz this into your hands and pat gently onto your face (or use a Beautyblender). Its water-resistant and high-protection formula is perfect for summer holidays.

Want more SPF goodness? Check out our full sun protection range.

*Contains no animal-derived ingredients or by-products.