The Best Sunscreens That Double As Makeup

For when you are looking for protection and pigments in one.
Beauty
Written by Elise Minton Tabin
12.28.2021
The Best Sunscreens That Double As Makeupfizkes/Shutterstock

Daily use of SPF is non negotiable. While that may have once sent a shiver down your spine at the thought of grease-induced breakouts and an ashy complexion, today’s sunscreen formulas make you forget you’re wearing it to begin with. In fact, some of the most advanced tinted and pigmented versions provide ample coverage that will make you want to swear off wearing regular ol’ foundation and makeup during the day forever. Here’s what you need to know.

Here Comes the Sun(screen)

It’s a well-known fact that sunscreen is a necessary component of any and every skincare routine. However, when it comes to sunscreens that double as makeup and makeup that contains sunscreen, the differentiating factor is that proper ‘makeup’ also contains pigments and other ingredients, says Angela Lamb, MD, a board certified dermatologist in New York City.

Sure, wearing makeup with sunscreen is better than not wearing any sunscreen, but these products are not typically as protective as traditional sunscreen. Makeup with sunscreen tends to have a lower SPF than traditional sunscreen, says Dendy Engelman, MD, a board certified dermatologist in NYC. “Because of these differences, you would have to layer on more of the SPF-infused makeup to achieve the same amount of protection as a standard (quarter-sized) amount of traditional sunscreen on the face,” she shares. For this reason alone, Dr. Engelman recommends first applying a traditional sunscreen — with a minimum of broad spectrum SPF 30 — followed by SPF-infused makeup on top for additional protection.

But layering sunscreen under makeup isn’t always as simple as it sounds. Some formulas can pill on the skin, whereas others leave a whitecast behind. Still, a lot of women don’t like the feeling of sunscreen under their makeup, and, in that instance, SPF-infused makeup is the next best thing. Some of today’s most innovative sunscreens formulations offer sun protection while concealing spots and discoloration, adding a wash of color to the cheeks or lids, or even a pop on the lips.

To ensure you are appropriately protected, Dr. Lamb says to use a product with at least an SPF of 30 unless you truly spend your entire day out of the sun or nowhere near a window. “In those instances, SPF 15 will likely do,” she says. Remember, clinical sunscreen testing uses two tablespoons. On the other hand, makeup isn’t tested, nor is two tablespoons worth usually worn daily. For the record, two tablespoons of liquid makeup would equate to approximately 10 layers or more of the product; creams and powders are harder to quantify.

And how do you navigate mid-day reapplication because, let’s face it, almost no woman can go an entire day without a swipe of lip color or a dusting of powder across the nose? Try a powder or cream compact with sunscreen — you can pat it into the skin using a makeup brush — or buildable lip color to keep what’s already on the face in place without smearing or blurring.

If you’re just looking for a refresh sans color, certain sunscreen sprays are formulated with a fine enough mist for touch ups. This will also help to make sure you can target easy-to-forget facial features. “We always need to pay special attention to high-risk areas that are at increased risk of skin cancer, such as the tops of the ears and nose and lower lip,” Dr. Engelman says.

The Best Sunscreens That Double as Makeup

Want to protect your skin and cover up your imperfections at the same time? Look no further than these color-protecting products that are AEDIT-approved for their ability to offer the best of both worlds.

For Prepping & Setting

The best way to ensure a flawless face is to properly prep and set the skin. These sunscreen-infused products pull double duty in that department.

The Prep Step: NYX Professional Makeup Bare With Me Cannabis SPF 30 Primer

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Primer is the first step in creating a flawless face — it evens out the skin to prep the skin for the makeup that's next to come. This moisturizing, colorless version includes SPF 30 and cannabis sativa seed oil for long-lasting hydration and total protection against damaging UVA and UVB rays. $17, nyxcosmetics.com

The Powder That Keeps Everything in Place: Ilia Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20

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Some days require makeup that stays put no matter what, and the best way to achieve that is with setting powder that does not quit. This one is available in three shades and blended with organic oils and powders in a talc-free formula to nourish the skin and obliterate shine while protecting it, too. $34, iliabeauty.com

The Colorless Refresh: Coola Makeup Setting Spray Organic Sunscreen SPF 30

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Perfect for locking in your look, reapplying your sunscreen, and/or refreshing your makeup, this weightless (and transparent) mist offers SPF 30 production while cutting shine and boosting moisture. Oh, and it’s water-resistant for 80 minutes in case you’re wearing it on a sweaty summer day or during a workout. $36, sephora.com

For Face

Whether you like liquid- or powder-based, it’s never been easier to find a complexion perfector with serious sun protection.

A Creamy Tone-Adjustor: Skinbetter sunbetter TONE SMART SPF 68 Sunscreen Compact

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Finding the perfect shade match can be downright daunting, which is why this silky smooth compact takes all the guesswork out by doing it for you. The tone-adapting formula, which can be used as a primer under makeup or layered on top for additional coverage, is 100percent mineral-based, so there’s no need to worry about clogged pores or breakouts. $65, skinbetter.com

For On-the-Go Application: Jane Iredale Powder Me SPF 30 Dry Sunscreen

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Powders are a must for sopping up midday oil, and this sunscreen-packed version does just that. Whether you use this for makeup touch ups, to reapply sunscreen (without messing up your makeup), or bare on the skin, the four shades of this weightless broad spectrum powder — it’s suitable for sensitive and acne-prone skin, too — leave the skin matte and perfectly protected. $50, ulta.com

The Triple Threat: MDSolarSciences MD Mineral BB Crème SPF 50

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Available in three shades ranging from light to dark, this velvety-smooth formula is part sun care, part skincare, and part makeup. The natural matte finish blends seamlessly into the skin, while zinc oxide protects, and caffeine and niacinamide help minimize redness and discoloration. $39, mdsolarsciences.com

For the Discerning Makeup Enthusiast: La Mer The Radiant SkinTint SPF 30

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La Mer is synonymous with the most luxurious skincare products imaginable, and this sunscreen-laden tint (available in 7 shades) doesn't disappoint. Its beautiful coverage is somewhere between a tinted moisturizer and foundation. The hero ingredient, the brand's famous sea-derived Miracle Broth, is coupled with lime tea concentrate and supercharged ferments to brighten and hydrate the skin. Is there anything this sheer wash of color can't do? We think not. $100, cremedelamer.com

The OG Sunscreen Makeup: BareMinerals Original Loose Powder Foundation SPF 15

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Swirl, tap, buff are three verbs that put BareMinerals on the map back in 1995, and this loose powder foundation is the product that started it all. This vegan formulation comes in 30 shades, is made with five clean ingredients, and offers mineral-based sun protection that blocks harmful UV rays from being absorbed into the skin. $32, bareminerals.com

For Total Coverage: Tower28Beauty SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen Foundation

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With 14 shades to choose from, this mineral sunscreen-meets-foundation is gentle enough to use on even the most sensitive skin. In fact, it's so gentle, the broad spectrum defender even boasts the National Eczema Association's Seal of Acceptance. The finish is heavy enough to cover up redness yet light and natural enough that freckles still show through with zero whitecast. $30, sephora.com

Sensitive Skin Safe: Saie Slip Tint SPF 35

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While this one falls into the tinted moisturizer category, its light, dewy finish makes it a showstopper. Packed with mineral sunscreen, the best part about this hydrator-and-sun-protector-in-one is that you don't have to guess which shade is the perfect match. Just send a selfie to the brand's skin concierge to receive a recommendation. $32, saiehello.com

For Lips

When it comes to sun protection, the lips are one of the most easily overlooked areas of the face. These two-in-ones make it impossible to forget.

Hydration Plus Color in One: Ava Isa Sun Lip Sun Whip SPF 15

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The delicate skin on the lips requires ample sun protection year-round, but it’s hard to choose between lip color and sunscreen. Thankfully, this vegan lip balm melds the best of both worlds and offers lip defense and a pop of pretty natural hues, plus a dose of hydration. Available in three shades, just one swipe coats the lips in zinc oxide to shield them against both UVA and UVB rays. $19, thedetoxmarket.com

A Cult Classic Lip Color with Plumping Power: Kaplan MD Perfect Pout Lipstick Revitalizing Lip Treatment + Sunscreen SPF 30

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Just when we thought lip-protecting products couldn’t get any better, this one emerged in eight hues. Although it’s been a fan favorite for years, it relies on SPF 30 plus 22 certified organic extracts and a unique peptide- and hyaluronic acid-rich complex to provide a plumping effect for full lips that are perfectly swathed in color. $30, kaplanmd.com

For Cheeks

Looking for a pop of color with protection? Look no further than any of these formulas...

For a Bronzed Beauty Look: Sweat Beauty SPF 25 Mineral Bronzer

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Bronzer is essential for creating that I-just-vacationed-in-St. Barths-look, but if travel plans have you headed elsewhere, you can still fake a tan with this breathable powder. Loaded with SPF 25 and vitamin E, swipe this on the cheekbones for a bit of contour or, if you’re feeling brave, dust it all over for a bronzy glow. $42, anthropologie.com

The Multitasking Pigment Stick: Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Color Balm SPF 50

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Colorescience basically wrote the book on sunscreen that doubles as makeup. Some of the many reasons we’re huge fans of all of the three shades of this color-packed tint (you can also use it on the lips): It’s buildable and offers protection against blue light, pollution, and environmental damage, too. $30 each, dermstore.com

Dewy & Glowy Yet Totally Protected: Illuminare Perfect Color Blush 21

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For a pop of shielding color on the cheeks that looks like you just came off the slopes, consider this skin-tone complementing cream. Easy to apply — place a few dots on the apple and high parts of the cheek and blend in with your fingers or a brush — this one leaves a slightly dewy finish yet loads of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to block out damaging UV rays and environmental aggressors. $18, dermstore.com

For Eyes

Putting sunscreen around your peepers has long been a recipe for stinging and watery eyes — until now.

Twinkle Eyes: Supergoop SPF 30 Shimmershade Eye Shadow Set

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The skin on the upper eyelids is delicate, and, if you've ever fallen victim to sunburned lids, then you know that they're painful (and not the best look on anyone). Enter this trio of gold and bronze tones that effortlessly glide over the lids to coat them with SPF 30 and without any of the chemical actives found in so many sunscreen products. Two thumbs up for the creamy texture that stays put, lasts all day, and doubles as a primer. $60, anthropologie.com

The Dark Circle Eraser: SkinCeuticals Physical Eye Defense SPF 50

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Dark circles, puffiness, crepey skin. If you’re not dealing with at least one of those under-eye concerns, we’d like to know your secret. This mousse-like SPF provides mineral-based UVA and UVB protection (a must for the delicate skin around the eyes) and instantly blurs and brightens. Depending on how much coverage you’re looking for, you can wear it alone or allow it to act as the perfect canvas for concealer. $30, skinceuticals,com

For Body

If you are going to wear body makeup, you might as well let it double as a UV blocker.

Below the Neck Benefits: Dermablend Leg & Body Makeup SPF 25

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The face isn't the only part of the body that needs adequate sun protection — the legs, arms, and pretty much everywhere else require it, too. Enter this full-body, head-to-toe formula that conceals everything from spider veins and bruises to tattoos, age spots, and beyond thanks to 12 fade-proof shades. Light enough to wear all day without transfer, it also protects the skin to prevent unwanted sun damage. $36, dermablend.com

All products featured are independently selected by our editors, however, AEDIT may receive a commission on items purchased through our links.

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ELISE MINTON TABINis a contributing writer for AEDIT.

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