6 great sun-protective skin products to wear under your makeup.

Image: Natio, Hamilton’s, Neutrogena.

Choosing a sunscreen for your body is fairly straightforward process. Broad-spectrum protection? Check. A formulation you like the feel of? Check.

But when it comes to faces we tend to be a bit pickier — especially when looking for something to wear under makeup that won’t make your face extra greasy or worse, ghostly white. So what’s best?

Well, start by looking at the SPF, or Sun Protection Factor. This is a measure of the increased level of UVB light protection the product gives your skin compared to if it had no protection at all.

For instance, if applied correctly — with the correct amount of product and two-hourly reapplications — an SPF 30 product should allow your skin to be exposed to the sun 30 times longer than it would be without any protection at all before getting burnt.

“My take is that if you’re going to wear a sunscreen, you might as well wear the highest protection possible,” Dr Katherine Armour, a spokesperson for the Australasian College of Dermatologists, says. In other words, an SPF 15 is much better than wearing no protection at all, but opt for something higher if you can.

Watch: Australians are familiar with the pain of sunburn… among other things. (Post continues after video.)


When it comes to wearing sunscreen under makeup, there are a couple of popular myths floating around that we need to debunk right here, right now. One is that teaming a SPF 20 moisturiser with an SPF 15 foundation will give you SPF 35 coverage.

“They’re definitely not cumulative; you’re still probably only getting an SPF 20. Also, they’re more than likely not applied properly to get the level of SPF they say they are,” Dr Armour says.

She also points out that cosmetics containing sun-protective agents aren’t tested against the same stringent standards as regular sunscreen, so they don’t tend to be as substantive or long-lasting. “They’re a useful adjunct, but not a replacement for a proper sunscreen,” she adds.

The other myth? That wearing foundation or any kind of barrier on your face, even if it doesn’t have any SPF listed on the label, must afford some protection from the sun. That seemingly-logical thought also gets a big womp-womp.

“It depends on what’s actually in it, but basically no — there’s minimal to no protection afforded by normal makeup that doesn’t include sunscreen,” Dr Armour says. “In some ways it’s almost something on your skin that can boil.”

Where possible, Dr Armour advises choosing a facial sunscreen over a moisturiser, but any protection is going to be better than nothing. Here are the protective base products The Glow team wears under their BB Creams, foundations and co.


Edwina, Editor

Ultraceuticals SunActive SPF50+ Face Cream, $49

“When it comes to sunscreens I’m putting on my face, I’m extra picky. As someone whose face resembles the contents of a jar of olive oil by 10:30am, I don’t want to slather on a sunscreen that’s going to make me break out or further the shine I have going on. Aside from smelling delightful, this formula has all the sun protection a lady requires, plus antioxidants and moisturising ingredients which sit nicely under my foundation.”

Neutrogena Clear Face SPF30, $16.99.

“It’s sheer and it offers broad-spectrum sun protection. Tick and tick. These factors are worthy and important, sure, but the two main reasons I love it most are the fact that it’s oil-free and non-comedogenic. It basically mean that if you’ve got acne-prone skin, it’s not going to worsen it. I’ve been wearing this all summer.”

Image: Supplied.

Carla, Beauty Editor

Cetaphil UVA/UVB Defence SPF50+ Daily Facial Moisturiser, $19.99

"The name sounds super serious, which is exactly what you want in a sunscreen. The best thing is that it feels just like a regular facial moisturiser, so there's none of that heavy, filmy glugginess that can come with a lot of other sunscreen moisturisers. It also makes layering makeup on top a non-issue. Plus, the little bottle goes a long way. It's great for sensitive skin too."

Image: Supplied

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Kahla, Associate Editor

Hamilton Everyday Face SPF 50+, $8.95

"My parents got me onto Everyday Face after one of their doctors recommended it. It works perfectly well under a BB cream, but it'll also lend a touch of colour to your face if worn alone. I took some with me on holiday to Africa a couple of years back, and it was the ultimate sunscreen/moisturiser/tint multitasker (you can't exactly take a giant cosmetics bag on safari, you know)."

Dermalogica Pure Light SPF 50, $92.50

"I've been using this cream since it landed on The Glow desks and will continue doing so when the weather cools off. It's pricier than the other products here, but I love the light formula and zingy botanical fragrance. It doesn't feel greasy and it gets along just fine with whatever products I wear over the top."

Image: Supplied.

Brittany, Glow Guide Producer

Natio Ageless Daily Protection Moisturiser SPF 30+, $18.95

"Having fair skin, I'm all about the high SPF but that can often mean gluggy and heavy duty. This feels protective but light on the skin and as it's packed full of essential oils, it's really hydrating too."

Image: Supplied.


What are your favourite sun-protective products?