Should SPF Always Be A Supporting Actor?


We’re living in a golden age of sunscreen; any beauty aisle will tell you as much. The options have expanded exponentially, the protection factors are much improved, and formulas are better, er, formulated. You can wear an SPF serum, an SPF foundation, an SPF eyeshadow, lip balm, setting spray, scalp moisturizer, hand cream… But on that note I have a question: do you actually wear any of those non traditional sunscreens? I’ll go first with a resounding no.

Call me old school, but I like my SPF like I like my coffee: unadulterated and slightly overpriced. My sunscreen always follows my moisturizer (or serum) and precedes any makeup application. Add-ons like antioxidants and tints are fine, so long as they aren't the main show; i.e. I prefer an SPF with vitamin C and not a vitamin C ampule with SPF, if that makes sense. To me, if a sunscreen is part of say, a serum, then I start to wonder about the serum. Is it any good? Why does it need an SPF? Is SPF even agreeable with whatever concentrated ingredient the serum supplies? Makeup drums up a different worry. Will the color oxidize since it’s mixed with SPF? (In my experience, foundation with SPF tends to take on an orange tinge.) Not to mention the question of why does makeup need SPF at all? Surely I’ll never pile on enough SPF-laced blush to meet the threshold of adequate protection.

Sunscreen applied over my everyday moisturizer or serum is just simpler to me. It’s my tried-and-true daily practice that I know I can’t screw up. But maybe I’m alone here—what say you? Are you into SPF showing up in other kinds of products? Tell me if I'm behind the times!

—Ashley Weatherford

Photo via ITG