Layering sunscreen with facial makeup enhances its sun protection factor under real-use conditions

Skin Res Technol. 2021 Sep;27(5):751-757. doi: 10.1111/srt.13010. Epub 2021 Mar 3.


Background: The proper application of sunscreen is important to ensure protection of the skin against ultraviolet (UV) damage. Sunscreens are used in various ways in real world situations, which alters their UV protection efficacy. In this study, we simulated typical consumer use of sunscreen, which is often sequentially covered with facial makeup, in a laboratory study.

Methods: We compared the sun protection factors (SPF) of sunscreen and makeup products after consecutive layering of the products.

Results: The SPF of each sunscreen and makeup product was dramatically lower than stated on the label upon application of a typical amount used by a consumer, which is lower than recommended. For high-SPF products, the drop in effective protection was proportionally greater than those for the low-SPF products upon application of lower doses. However, layering sunscreen and makeup products greatly increased the effective SPF compared with that achieved by single application of each product, even when the amount of each product used was below the recommended level.

Conclusion: Layering sunscreen with makeup may compensate for insufficient sunscreen application in real-life conditions by providing an additional source of UV protection and improving the homogeneity of coverage. Our results suggest that recommending consecutive application of sunscreen and makeup products may be a practical and useful approach to improving UV protection that would not require additional steps in the facial care routines of many individuals.

Keywords: skin care; sun protection factor; sunscreening agents; ultraviolet radiation.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Skin
  • Skin Neoplasms*
  • Sun Protection Factor
  • Sunscreening Agents*
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects


  • Sunscreening Agents