You Still Need Sunscreen With Your SPF Makeup
SPF has infiltrated your lipstick and eye shadow as beauty brands jump on the $1.4 billion sun care market—but don't toss out that tube of Coppertone just yet.
Supergoop, a fun-to-say sunscreen brand, is known for clear, non-sticky formulas. Since its launch in 2008, the line has developed a cultish following of skincare devotees who swear the products give them UV protection without the telltale white streaks of other sunscreens.
But this week, the line launched a new SPF product that, unlike previous launches, is meant to be noticed.
As the name implies, “Shimmershade” is a sparkly eyeshadow made for the “no makeup makeup” set. The $24 cream topcoat is meant to be applied over one’s lid with a finger. Along with leaving a slight iridescent tint, “Shimmershade” contains SPF 30. Supergoop’s promise? A “long-wearing” product that “keeps eyes pretty and protected.”
Supergoop—which, as Fortune’s Emma Hinchliffe wrote, ended 2018 with $40 million in revenue—is not the only label injecting some creativity into the $1.4 billion sun care industry. While eyeshadow does not typically contain SPF, there are a host of beauty brands selling makeup designed for a day at the beach.
Tarte, a behemoth brand in the makeup community, has long sold a $39 “Amazonian Clay” full-coverage foundation with SPF 15. Dr. Nicholas Perricone hawks a liquid bronzer designed to help fake a tan while delivering a sun protection factor of 30. Brands like Sun Bum, Kiehl’s, and Revlon all make glosses designed to eliminate the potential for pesky—and painful—lip sunburns.
The desire to double-up on sun protection makes sense. Aggressive campaigns from the American Cancer Society and other health organizations have amplified the importance of regular sunscreen use, but only among certain demographics.
According to the CDC, about 30 percent of women regularly wear sunscreen when outside for more than an hour, compared to a measly 15 percent of men. This could partly be due to the abundance of SPF makeup and skincare that is primarily marketed to female shoppers.
“There is evidence that suggests men are less likely to protect themselves from the sun or engage with melanoma awareness and prevention campaigns,” Dr. Dorothy Yang, junior doctor at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, told CNN last year.
The CDC also found that “non-Hispanic blacks,” people who do not sunburn easily, and those who earn below $60,000 a year are less likely to lube up. Of course, this leads to dire outcomes: the American Academy of Dermatology estimates that 7,230 people will die from melanoma by the end of this year.
While many women—especially those who fuel the $17 billion skincare industry—are sure to apply SPF on their face, many forget to extend the same care to other exposed areas of their skin like the hands, shoulders, or neck. SPF makeup for the face cannot help with that.
Dermatologists are weary of SPF makeup, but not entirely dismissive of the trend.
“SPF makeup should never be a substitute for a real sunscreen,” Dr. Howard D. Sobel, a New York dermatologist, told The Daily Beast. “Makeup with an SPF can protect against UVB rays, but it does not always protect against UVA rays, which cause premature aging and potentially lead to skin cancer.”
UVB rays tend to harm outer layers of the skin, which leads to redness and burning. UVA rays are more prevalent and dangerous. That type of radiation is responsible for any golden glow one may get from the sun, but also penetrates deeper into skin, which can injure DNA. Those mutations have the potential to turn into skin cancer.
When a sun product is listed as “broad spectrum,” that means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. (Supergoop's Shimmershade fits the bill.)
Dr. Sobel sees no harm in using SPF makeup as long as it is layered over sunscreen. “I recommend applying a liberal amount of sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher year-round, everyday, rain or shine,” the dermatologist said. “Make sure to let it absorb in your face for a few minutes before doing your makeup.”
It should be applied at least 20 minutes before going outside, and touched up for every two hours spent in the sun. Dr. Sobel’s favorite sunscreen to apply over makeup is ColorScience Sunforgettable, which boasts an SPF of 50 and comes with a brush to help with blending.
Dr. Nava Greenfield of Brooklyn’s Schweiger Dermatology Group is a fan of Supergoop’s sunscreen, but remains skeptical of layering. “If you are using an SPF 30, it’s helpful to layer with SPF makeup, but it may not be necessary,” she said.
Should you double dip and put an SPF 30 eye shadow over your SPF 50 sunscreen, do not expect to leave the home wearing SPF 80. “SPF is not additive in that way,” Dr. Greenfield explained. You will still only have an SPF of 50 on your face, but the extra makeup can serve as a physical barrier between the skin and the sun.
Representatives from Supergoop were not able to respond to The Daily Beast's request for comment in time, but the brand's founder Holly Thaggard told Fashionista that the brand supports applying the eyeshadow over sunscreen, too.
“We really believe at Supergoop that SPF layering and wardrobing is super important,” Thaggard said. “Having that good, generous first coat of something like Superscreen [the brand's SPF] or a moisturizer-based SPF is definitely always something we encourage. In the same vein of that, I would encourage everyone to wear an eye cream with SPF, absolutely. I would start there in a perfect world and then layer on the Shimmershade on top of that.”
That laundry list of products are undoubtedly a lot of steps standing in the way of you and the beach. At least it will make you sparkle, so long as you do not dip your head underwater and mess it all up.