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.
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It’s 2016. Why are we still talking about this? 😛 So, I’ll be the first to admit I slacked on sunscreen one particular dreary grey wintry day. I was half asleep and was in a hurry and funnily I did use the Iope that morning. It was silly to forget the sunscreen because I’d scheduled a mid-day run.
When I got back from my run and I’d sufficiently warmed down, my skin felt a little uncomfortable. Just the tiniest bit. And I know it’s not from the cold tingling my skin. I was absolutely certain it was from UV damage. Bear in mind this is right smack in the middle of winter and there was barely any sun (doesn’t mean there’s no UV rays).
I turned to my running partner and he said my nose was starting to resemble Rudolph (the red nose reindeer). Too late. Damage has been done. Irreversible damage. No sunscreen at work either so I slapped on some moisturiser with spf 15 on top for the rest of the day. (And put up with Rudolph jokes and questions like – I thought Asians don’t burn?)
Paris B says
Because I’m STILL getting these questions in 2016! 😛 I blame the cushion foundations. Back in 2013 it was BB Creams that made this claim. Now cushion foundations claim to be enough. Madness! Thanks for sharing your experience. Oh yes, we Asians do burn. We just burn kinda slowly like soggy wood LOL! 😀
The amount of foundation I use is half of yours! So I always wear sunscreen. However, I only use 1 finger length on one side of my face and another finger length on the other side of my face. You definitely use much more than I do! That said, I have the luxury to reapply since I don’t work in the office anymore 🙂
Paris B says
Ya I”m kinda paranoid about using sunscreen and also very trigger happy LOL! Always shocks everyone when I tell them how much I use. That’s why I can’t do sunscreens that are too creamy. It just feels to uncomfortable.
Good one, Paris! Thanks for sharing as I was wondering about this too but can’t get any real answer. All the bb cushion contains sun protection so I skip my sun screen (for quite some time) and after reading this, only realize that my spots may be caused by not wearing enough sun protection (which I thought is enough).
Paris B says
Glad you found it useful Elynn. I’ve actually met many beauty bloggers who tell me they don’t use sunscreen just makeup, so maybe that’s why few people talk about this. It scares me that’s the knowledge that’s being shared! I’m sorry to hear you’ve developed sun spots 🙁 But there’s no time like now to invest in a good sunscreen and while I’m not into whitening products (so I can’t help there) I can suggest that you try a good Vitamin C serum like this one I like 🙂 If the spots aren’t too dark (mine have been accumulated over years of early neglect and ignorance and childish bravado) then it can help lighten them somewhat 🙂
Thanks for sharing the amount you use Paris. I diligently wear sunscreen. However looking at the amount you use, I realize that I need to amp up the amount. Maybe that’s the reason for a the heated up sensation I get in the sun and patchy sun spots despite the sunscreen. Need a more generous coverage. Shied on using generously as always left me looking oily.
Paris B says
You’re welcome and I’m not saying I’m using the optimum amount. It’s just how much I use daily 🙂 But sometimes, we can get that heaty feeling from not using proper sunscreen either, or staying too long out in the sun or not reapplying. Sometimes, it’s genetic too. Very complicated. haha But even if we do get spots, sunscreen will help keep your skin looking better texturally as you age, which I think is better 🙂
Hanny Daforcena says
I used to be terrible at sunscreen. Ever since moving to Australia for my Masters though, I’ve been taking to mixing my sunscreen with my foundation in my hands and applying the mixture like a BB cream. I use like half a pump of foundation and a 50 sen coin’s worth of sunscreen.
The formula of my sunscreen is somewhat liquid and I feel that I much prefer it than… creamier formulas as it feels light.
P.S: Cosmetics shopping in Australia is TERRIBLE *makes me miss Malaysia juuuuust a little more than necessary*
Paris B says
Ooh you’re in Australia! Having a good time? 😀 That’s actually a clever way to do it – at least you’ll get your proper dose of sunscreen, and a nice tinted effect as well. Time saver too! 😀 I hear ya about cosmetics shopping Down Under. I can’t get over the prices when I’m there! But there’s that Priceline sale going on now that my friends tell me is worth sweeping the shelves clean for, so time to take advantage of that! 😉 Oh and I’m sure you miss the food here too haha! Everyone does eventually 😉
I’m so glad you wrote about this. Anytime I’m out and someone asks me about my skin and what I use the first thing I say is sunscreen. I’ve always used sunscreen even before makeup. I can’t stress enough to people how important it is. When my 13 year old niece (now 16) wanted to get into makeup I told her that the first thing she should be using is sunscreen. It’s really that simple. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again about how my mom used to slather sunscreen all over me when I was younger and hated it. My 40 year old wrinkle/sun damaged free face thanks you!
Paris B says
Thanks for sharing Tracy! You’re lucky not to have sun damage – I’m not as lucky thanks to some rebellion in my younger days despite my Mom’s best efforts to dunk me in sunscreen! But still, skin texture wise, I’m definitely showing better skin texture than someone my age would 😀 Glad you’re now sharing that wisdom with your niece – I make sure my little nephews are always slathered up!
Shija Rahim says
Great info Miss P,
I am wondering does the The body shop sunscreen is as great as our favourite Shiseido sunscreen? Both have SpF50 kann.. The prices comparison too, pls?
Paris B says
I’ve got a review on the TBS sunscreen coming up! But just between you and me, I’m sticking to Shiseido 😉
[email protected] says
Great post! I shake my head whenever I hear that someone just uses a moisturizer with SPF or a foundation with SPF. We should always use a separate sunscreen no matter what. ALWAYS.
Paris B says
Absolutely! I think it bears reminding because apparently, there are beauty gurus out there preaching otherwise! *gasp* (And that’s why we shouldn’t call them ‘gurus’ 😛 )
What about eye area? Do you also use eye cream with spf?
Paris B says
I don’t, but I do use a thin layer of my regular sunscreen around my eye area. I can’t advise it for everyone because depending on the product you use it can possibly clog pores, but if you use a light textured sunscreen you might be able to get away with it. Otherwise, the next best bet would be to use eye cream with spf – some protection is better than none!
I can be so slack when it comes to sunscreen, tsk tsk on me for that one. This was a good reminder to step it up, even with these grey winter clouds in Melbourne!
Paris B says
Oh yes, sunscreen 24/7/365! 😀 I think most people tend to skip it in winter, but UV rays don’t really care if it’s winter or summer 🙂
Do you reapply sunscreen every two hours? Could you share any tips on reappying sunscreen over makeup?
Paris B says
I know I should, but I don’t. The primary reason is because I’m indoors for the most part of the day and while lights etc impart UV rays, it’s not as bad as the sun’s rays. I only reapply if I’m outside for any length of time e.g. by the beach. But I’m otherwise an indoors gal. I won’t recommend apply sunscreen over makeup. The best way is to remove everything and re do your skincare, sunscreen and makeup. However, there are some brands that make powder sunscreen that they say you can apply over your makeup to touch up through the day. I’ve tried them and didn’t like them because they dried out my skin.
Tine @ Beautyholics Anonymous says
BB/CC/whatever double alphabets they throw at us, are, at the end of the day, makeup. Unless one applies the same amount of these makeup creams on my face as we do with sunscreen, then it’s simply not enough. Cushion foundations would be even worse because we only apply so little of it on our skin even in layers. There is no question about it; either use a high-SPF moisturiser or a separate sunscreen. It’s sad that at this day and age, beauty brands are still trying to sell the “BB/whatever creams with high SPF will give you sufficient UV protection” bullshit. 😛
Paris B says
I am always horrified whenever I see people expounding the same theories the brands tell them to say – that you can use the cushion foundation as sunscreen because it’s got SPF50. Damn. If they burn, they deserve it 😛
You weren’t feeling any specific ray of sun when you were just wearing your BB cushion. It’s not possible to detect UVA from UVB rays by simply feeling hot. What you were most likely feeling was the higher percentage of chemical sunscreen in the cushion vs. the PHYSICAL.
Chemical sunscreen is less effective, according to dermatologists (go see one and stop babbling about sun care when you cleary have no clue) because it works by absorbing into the skin and then deflecting the sun rays. This causes heat production and can lessen the effect of the sun protective factor. Please read EWG before you espoused the silly, incorrect sun care information to your gaggle of teens who follow you. Also, I dare you to research and find out just how effective sunscreen is if it’s layered! Hint: it’s what the SPF number indicates and has everything to do with amount applied and proper absorption…so if you apply enough of your beloved cushion bb cream you are protected though it makes the most sense to layer sunscreens because you can literally raise the SPF that way. But still research. You might learn something.
Paris B says
Cushion foundation (which, if you know anything about me is not a ‘beloved’ makeup product) or any BB/CC creams are makeup products and I stand by my assertion that they remain as that and on their own, offer insufficient protection as few people will use a sufficient amount to make much of a difference. While there is no doubt that it can be layered and built up, there is a fine line between function and flattering. A thick amount of makeup that contains SPF on skin is not flattering, although it can be functional. Much better therefore to apply proper sunscreen and then as little (or as much) makeup as you want thereafter. Make all the assumptions you want about me, but it’s incredibly rude and condescending of you to make assumptions about the people who read my blog, to presume their ages or their ability to form their own opinions from reading varied sources on the same subject matter. There are ways to make your point a valid one without descending into name-calling. You might want to learn something about manners too.