Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ask OutInAPout:
Does the SPF in My Makeup Protect Me?

On my recent post on the new FDA sunscreen regulations, a reader asked a great question. Rather than just posting the answer back in comments (where it's bound to get lost in the shuffle for all but the most devoted readers!) I decided to share my answer with everyone.

Deb asks:

Is it important to wear [sunscreen] on the face? I wear mineral makeup that has titanium dioxide and zinc oxide in the base but there, of course, is no exact protection number for that.

My answer:

In short, yes, you definitely do need to wear sunscreen on your face in addition to your makeup.

As you mentioned, many mineral makeup companies do not label their makeup with an SPF, presumably because the cost of testing sun protection ratings for FDA approval can cost up to $25,000. There are, however, tons of products from larger companies- from bronzer to liquid foundation- that do boast an SPF. In either case, makeup shouldn't be relied upon for its sun protection because the typical user doesn't apply nearly enough product to benefit from the protection the product advertises.

In the case of mineral makeup (or any other powder sunscreen), you'd have to wear about 1.2 grams on your face to get the SPF stated on the product's label. To put that in perspective, you'd have to use about 1/6th of an ENTIRE JAR of your average mineral makeup every time you apply to get the correct coverage. According to cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Leslie Baumann, the average woman applies only 0.085 grams at a time, so you'd have to put on 14 times the normal amount! Ick!

Even though Deb's question pertained to mineral makeup, I do want to point out that the same issue exists for liquid foundations. According to Baumann, "SPF on the label of a...facial foundation is not an accurate reflection of how much sun protection these products offer. This is because the average person applies much less sunscreen product than is used in FDA testing".

Chances are, the idea of layering on even twice the foundation (let alone 14 times the amount!) probably doesn't sound like a great solution, so before you apply your makeup, make sure you apply a broad spectrum sunscreen. I like CeraVe AM; you can read my review about it here. Thanks for the question Deb, and keep them coming!


Deb said...

Oh, thanks for the in-depth answer! That totally makes sense about the amount one would have to put on to get protection... I didn't think of it that way. 14x the amount I usually put on... yucky. I suppose I'll use that sunscreen on my face now too, I just hope it doesn't break me out.

MissJupiter said...

I am so fair, I got singed a bit when I went outside for 3 minutes to get the mail. I have had to rely on homemade mineral powders with TD & ZO, & not staying outside more than a half hour. Unfortunately, in recent years I have only found one (including the "all natural" ones) liquid sunscreen that does not have silicones in it, which give me cystic acne, & that one has an overwhelming amount of migraine-inducing fragrance & is yellow, making me look sickly jaundiced. Do you have any advice for what else I could try if my TD/ZO powder is not enough? Have you ever come across a liquid sunscreen in recent years that is silicone-free?
Thank you!

Unknown said...

Anytime! It was a great question and one I know many other people can benefit from. Keep in mind, physical sunscreens Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are probably the least likely to irritate skin, but they tend to leave a white cast & feel thick & chalky on the skin, so if you can use an in-part "chemical" sunscreen, it'll likely feel & look better! If it makes you feel better I have (quoting my Dermatologist) "very, very, very, very sensitive skin" and I have no problems with the CeraVe AM that I mentioned.

Though I haven't personally tested very many silicone-free sunscreens, they are out there. Korres, LaVanila, and Peter Thomas Roth all have options for you.

Silicones are often used in sunscreens because they help make the product resistant to moisture, so they stay on longer. Also, since many active sunscreen ingredients can feel thick, sticky or chalky, silicones are added to help the product spread easier & feel silkier on the skin.

Despite some negative press (perpetuated by "natural" beauty companies) silicone allergies are extremely rare, and the ingredient is non-comedogenic, meaning it does not clog pores. In fact, silicone molecules are too large to enter the pore; that's one of their benefits. Silicones form a protective barrier on the skin but the particle size allows the skin to breathe.

I'm wondering if you've had the chance to visit a dermatologist or allergist about your cystic acne? What you think may be an issue with silicone could very well be a reaction to another common ingredient. If you can pinpoint with certainty what is bugging your skin, you may find you have more options than you thought!

I hope you'll let us know, and if you do find a good silicone-free option, drop in & let us know! Good luck :)

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