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Can you layer different sunscreens?

The right sunscreen goes a long way in protecting the healthy glow and beauty of your skin. Unfortunately, not enough people take the proper precautions, leaving many people exposed to unnecessary damage. To maximize your protection, it’s important to consider what each sunscreen option provides and when to use it. You may even wonder if you can layer different sunscreens to achieve better coverage. We have the answers to your important questions about layering sunscreen.

Should you layer different sunscreens on a daily basis?

The sun can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time, so it’s important to take steps to protect your skin. This means choosing a sun care routine that addresses your concerns with ease of use, quality ingredients, and SPF strength.

The best thing you can do is choose a daily sunscreen with at least SPF 30 that you enjoy applying. Make sure it says broad spectrum on the label, as this will ensure its ingredients protect against both UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays. Apply this sunscreen as the last step of your skincare routine in the morning.

If you wear makeup, give your sunscreen a few moments to set, then apply your makeup as usual. Then, reapply your sunscreen throughout the day, at least every two hours. If you follow this guidance, you really don’t need to think about layering additional types of sunscreens. Your broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen should suffice when applied thoroughly and often. 

Can you layer different sunscreens with makeup products?

What if your makeup includes SPF? Is it enough protection, or should you layer it with another sunscreen? 

Few beauty products have the level of SPF protection needed to prevent age spots, discoloration, and other visible signs of damage. And even if they are broad spectrum and SPF 30 or higher, it’s likely that you won’t be applying enough of the product to truly get sufficient coverage.

If you love your makeup with SPF and don’t want to stop using it, it’s okay to layer it with another sunscreen. Use a dedicated sunscreen product that’s broad spectrum and at least SPF 30, let it dry down, and then apply your makeup with SPF on top of it. 

If you aren’t wedded to makeup with SPF, then stick with using a broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen, and apply whichever makeup you like on top of it. When reapplying later in the day, carefully dab your sunscreen (it doesn’t have to be the same one) over your existing makeup to ensure you continue to be protected.

Layering chemical and mineral formulas

There are reasons to be concerned about ineffectiveness when layering certain sunscreen formulas with other products containing SPF. For example, trying to pair a sunscreen made with chemical SPF filters with a product that relies on mineral filters can create some instability in their respective protective capabilities. Some research shows that mineral sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide can have adverse interactions with a chemical filter such as avobenzone, especially when uncoated powders are used. This may jeopardize the skin’s protection as the compounds mix and degrade quicker in the presence of UV. When layering, you need to think about the ingredients in the sunscreen products.

Unless you know the exact properties of the mineral sunscreen powder (coated or uncoated, for example), it is hard to determine exactly how it will interact with other SPF products. To be especially sure, and to avoid instability issues if you’re layering SPF products, stick with the same types of ingredients. For example, if you use a mineral SPF 30 as your base, consider sticking with mineral-based SPF makeup. (The active ingredients in mineral sunscreens are zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, with no other active ingredients.)

How often can you layer different sunscreens?

Simply adding in a few more layers of sunscreen doesn’t extend how long you are protected for. You are only increasing your SPF coverage, up to the highest SPF of the sunscreens you chose (i.e. if you put on SPF 50 sunscreen and SPF 30 makeup, you are only getting a maximum of SPF 50 coverage, which you still need to reapply). It’s important to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, or more often if you are sweating or have been swimming.

Can you layer different sunscreens?

Use caution when layering sunscreens. Stick with the same active ingredients if you’re using two products with SPF in a row, e.g. make sure both are mineral formulas (zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as the only active ingredients) or chemical formulas. Whether you wear makeup or not, it’s best to finish your skincare routine with a layer that is nothing but sunscreen. Make sure you are putting enough sunscreen on, and let it dry completely before layering on any other sunscreen or makeup.