Does It Protect Your Skin?


Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It’s the outermost layer, and it protects all the other organs from danger.

Some types of makeup can protect you from sun damage, so people often forgo other types of protection like sunscreen. But when it comes to ultraviolet (UV) rays, you can never be too safe. 

What Are UV Rays?

Sunlight contains UV radiation. UV rays provide your body with vitamin D, an essential nutrient that supports your immune system, bone health, and more.

UV rays can also be risky. Overexposure can lead to:

  • Sunburn
  • Skin aging
  • Skin damage
  • Skin cancer

UV rays occur naturally from the sun. However, tanning beds, stadium lights, and some lasers can expose you to artificial UV radiation.

What Is the UV Index?

The Ultraviolet (UV) Index is how weather services indicate the sun’s UV radiation intensity. The rating serves to guide how you protect yourself from overexposure.

Even at the lowest rating of the UV Index, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) suggests protection such as sunglasses and sunscreen. At the highest rating, protection from sun damage is a necessity.

What’s the Deal With SPF?

Makeup, sunscreen, and other cosmetics have a sun protection factor (SPF). Cosmetics with an SPF label protect your skin from sun damage.

SPF measures the amount of UV radiation it takes to lead to sunburn. The higher SPF a product is, the more UV radiation exposure you can handle before getting sunburned. For example, sunscreen with an SPF of 15 provides adequate protection, but SPF 30 or 50 protects even more. 

Is Makeup With an SPF Enough?

Makeup with an SPF is appealing. You can cut down on your morning routine, protect your skin, and look good with fewer steps. But, unfortunately, it may not be enough to protect you from sun damage.

Consider it logically. A cosmetic with an SPF protects the skin it covers. Makeup with SPF will protect areas like your lips and cheeks.

Now, what about your hands, neck, chest, arms, and other exposed areas? Your makeup with an SPF won’t help protect those areas from sun damage.

Makeup with added sunscreen may be enough to protect your face (if you’re using it on your entire face). A safe and recommended routine is to use sunscreen along with your SPF makeup. The sunscreen protects what your makeup doesn’t reach.


Other Ways to Protect Yourself from UV Rays

Even though your makeup may not provide enough protection from the sun, there are several ways to keep your skin safe.

Avoid peak hours. You should limit the amount of time you spend in direct sunlight during the day. The sun’s rays are more dangerous from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M., so avoiding them during this time will help you avoid sun damage.

Find shade. You don’t have to stay inside to avoid UV rays. Lounging under an umbrella, sitting beneath a tree, and relaxing in a gazebo keep you away from the sun’s rays. But, of course, you should still use sunscreen and wear protective clothing.

Cover up with clothes. It may be uncomfortable at first, but covering your skin with clothes will protect them from UV rays. Clothes like long-sleeve shirts and pants will save your skin. Even simple accessories like sunglasses and hats help.

Hats will help you if you have little to no hair. The top of your head is susceptible to the sun. Without hair to protect your scalp, you are exposed to severe UV radiation.

Sunglasses also protect your eyeballs, not just the skin of your eyelids. Sun damage can damage the skin of your eyes. The UV rays can also damage your eyes and lead to cataracts.

Avoid light-colored surroundings.
Snow, sand, and light concrete reflect sunlight. This reflection makes the UV rays more intense and can double your exposure.

Use sunscreen as recommended. Expired sunscreen provides less protection from UV rays. Additionally, reapply sunscreen every two hours while outside. Reapply it more frequently if you are sweating or swimming. 

Get familiar with your local UV index trends. Your location will have its UV index trends. If you know the frequent levels of UV radiation, you know what kind of precautions you need to take.

Who Is At Risk?

All skin colors can experience sun damage when exposed to UV rays. People with naturally pale skin and light-colored hair should exercise extreme care.

People treated for skin cancer or who have family members with skin cancer should also be careful. They could be at risk when exposed to UV rays.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Sun Safety.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Is the Sunscreen in Your Makeup Enough?”

United States Environmental Protection Agency: “UV Index Description.”

U.S. Food & Drug Administration: “Tips to Stay Safe in the Sun: From Sunscreen to Sunglasses.”

Skin research and technology : official journal of International Society for Bioengineering and the Skin (ISBS) [and] International Society for Digital Imaging of Skin (ISDIS) [and] International Society for Skin Imaging (ISSI): “Layering sunscreen with facial makeup enhances its sun protection factor under real-use conditions.”

© 2009 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.


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