You know what? You will not believe the number of times I’m asked this very question. Do I need a separate sunscreen or sunblock if my cushion foundation or foundation is already SPF50? Goodness peeps, please don’t fall for the damn makeup-as-skincare hype!
As much as I risk repeating myself, having written about this about 3 years ago (I foresaw problems LOL!) I thought a refresher course was in order.
Also, I recently did a little experiment (reluctantly) where for some reason, I ended up not carrying my usual skincare arsenal with me. I had some random bits and bobs of cleanser and moisturiser on hand but when I dug around desperately the next morning for sunscreen, I had none. No sunscreen! HORRORS!
I’m afraid to say that toiletries pouches aren’t a Mary Poppins magic bag of tricks :( No matter how hard I rooted, I couldn’t unearth any sunscreen! I was very reluctant to head out anywhere without any sun protection so I did the next best thing – I used cushion foundation which had SPF50. How did that work?
NOT WELL AT ALL!
I don’t know if you’ve tried it, but although I wasn’t out under direct sunlight, and was primarily indoors, the skin on my face felt very uncomfortable. I was in quite a bright and airy place, with large clear windows that let in the light, and that was just as bad as going out under the sun.
In less than an hour, my skin started feeling warm and, for the want of a better description, lightly toasted. I very very rarely (well, almost never) not wear sunscreen so this was a feeling I was not used to. Clearly, the cushion foundation, for all its sun protection properties did zilch.
After a couple of hours, I escaped to a room without windows, but the damage was done. My skin continued feeling lightly toasted, and it didn’t feel comfortable at all. It felt like how you may feel after getting a touch of sun – skin feels warm from the inside.
At the first opportunity, I headed home, cleaned off all my makeup and re-did my whole skincare routine, this time ending with a proper slathering of sunscreen all over. Then, I topped up with the same cushion foundation.
When I headed out again, this time under the sun, my skin didn’t feel as uncomfortable. I was out and about under the sun for about 2 hours, and I still felt fine. No smarting, and no toasted feeling. My skin did not feel exceptionally warm.
This was an important observation.
You see, sunlight that damages our skin has UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are what reacts on the skin surface and warms up the skin. So, when my skin started feeling warm, I knew that the UVB rays had reached my skin. The cushion foundation may have protected my skin for a very short while, but it wasn’t sufficient for the simple reason – we don’t use enough.
By contast, when I apply sunscreen, I apply a generous amount all over my face. I use about a finger’s length on each part of my face – 2 part cheeks, 1 forehead, 1 nose, 1 chin. On my nose and chin I sometimes use about half that amount or it might be too heavy. For me, I’ve found this to be the best amount to keep my skin protected. And I’m proven right, because when I layered up properly, I didn’t experience the burning, which tells me that my skin is protected from the UVB rays.
By contrast, if I were using foundation, I would apply that same amount you see in the picture all over my face! There’s no way it can protect my skin the same way sunscreen can. If I were to apply the same amount of makeup on my skin as I do sunscreen, I’d be wearing a mask and look pretty awful.
And from this personal anecdote, my advise is to always, ALWAYS wear a separate sunscreen. Make it a habit. Don’t listen to people or brands who tell you that their BB/CC/Cushion foundation has such good SPF protection that you can use it on its own. It’s your skin, take back control of it!
Sunscreen is skincare and goes on as the very last step. Anything after that is makeup. Don’t confuse the two, and for goodness sake, don’t mix the two up! Your skin will thank you for it when you get older. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about ;)
Do you have an experience to share about using BB/CC cream or cushion foundation in place of sunscreen?
While I’d agree that SOME protection is better than none e.g. in my situation above, where I had no sunscreen on hand, I’d suggest you do what I did i.e. clean off everything and apply sunscreen at your first opportunity. Sun damage doesn’t need hours to manifest, just a few minutes will do the trick and then you’ll spend years eradicating that damage.