10 years ago by

It’s that time of year where the sun is (hopefully) shining everyday, you’re probably spending more time outside and you’re probably thinking more about SPF.

Yes, yes, yes you should be wearing a sunscreen year round (UV rays don’t vacation in winter!) but it’s on our minds more now that the weather is changing.

Living in New York, I’m always looking for extra convenience in my beauty routine, especially if I am on the go. For example: my powder has a built in mirror and brush, simplifying my mid-day touch ups, my NARS pencils fit perfectly into that mini zipper pouch I call a wallet and I’ve got a travel size Oribe that I can hide in most of my handbags. When it comes to sunscreen, it’s not always the most convenient thing to tote around (especially since you should reapply often when spending time in the sun). I’ve started to rely more and more on foundations and moisturizers with built in protection in order to save time (and space).

I asked Dr. Marko Lens for a few tips when it comes to sun protection and how to make the most of the products you’re using. Here’s what he had to say…

On multi-tasking products…

First, you need to make sure that the sunscreen is broad spectrum. When it’s included in the moisturizer, it’s very individual. It might not be the right moisturizer for you. What’s happening is that in order to develop a very effective sunscreen, you need to compromise a little bit on moisture. Making a perfect hydrator with SPF is impossible. Imagine if you have thirsty skin and you want to protect the skin but also give it hydration. You aren’t going to achieve it with even the most perfect sunscreen moisturizer. Finding a balance is important.

On the order of application…

It should always be the last thing you apply. Obviously, afterwards you can apply your makeup. You would put your serum, then your moisturizer, then your sunscreen and then your makeup.

If you are using a face oil, the oils can stick on the skin, they might not absorb completely. They can create a barrier. The penetration can be difficult because you have to go through the oil or serum and then the skin before you reach the dermis.

On playing chemist…

You shouldn’t mix your products. If you are mixing half sunscreen and half moisturizer, you are diluting the effect of the sunscreen. If you need more moisture, apply a moisturizer first. [Editor’s Note: I’m the first to admit I’m guilty of this. I’m always mixing together foundations and moisturizers and primers…]

On SPF 30 vs SPF 50…

I recommend SPF 30. If you go up to SPF 50, you’re only adding 1% of absorption. SPF 30 is absorbing 97% and SPF 50 is absorbing 98%. In order to make SPF 50, you need to boost the UVB filters, so the texture will change. The thicker formulas usually aren’t as user friendly.

Any sunscreen should be applied every two hours, which is not always possible. Assuming that you’re staying in your office and you’re not exposed to the sun, I would apply once a day. It’s very difficult, if you have a sunscreen on and then you apply makeup, are you going to take it off and reapply? You have to be practical.

Some of my favorite multi-tasking sun products? Daily Defence Sunscreen SPF 30, Zelens; Ultra Sun Protection Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Primer, Chantecaille; Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30, NARS; Moisture Surge CC Cream SPF 30, Clinique.


Add yours
  • Great tips! Thanks for the info and reminder about every two hours to reapply – it’s always so easy to forget when I’m out having fun…


  • thank you: it’s never too early to learn how and what to apply! :)

  • Je ne connaissais pas la différence entre le SPF30 et le SP50, j’ai opté pour un 50 car j’ai des tâches sur le visage (suite à ma grossesse) et je dois en mettre, mais sérum + SPF50 ça me semble beaucoup, je pense que si la crème est assez hydratante, on peut éviter d’en mettre deux.
    Avène fait des crèmes hydratantes SPF30, je pense que je vais opter pour cette marque.

  • Great tips! I always use an SPF30 and my favorite cream with sun protection is the Clinique CC cream! It has a great texture!

  • Raquel April, 3 2014, 9:23 / Reply

    I believe a tinted sunscreen is a great option.

  • I choose very carefully when I choose a sunscreen because it is something you use in big quantities, the ingredients are very important, I prefer physical sunscreens and my favorite is Skinceuticals SPF 50, they have one which is tinted that I love a lot. For the body I love Bioderma SPF 50 spray , the main ingredient is Tinosorb which is one of the safest chemicals for the sunscreens.

  • Perfet photo and great tips :)

    xoxo, Elisa
    My Fantabulous World

  • Thank you for the info but let’s not forget that some amount of sun needs to get through our skin so that our body can produce vitamine D which is an anti-depressant and anti-inflammatory agent.

    Yours thoughtfully ;)

  • Ai-Ch'ng April, 3 2014, 10:13

    I love the photo, and I agree with you, Lucia. Too many people would rather not have wrinkles and suffer the side effects of Vitamin D deficiency, which – along with what you’ve mentioned (antidepressant and antioxidant), also contributes – ironically – to cancer.

    Everything in balance, I would say. I haven’t worn sunscreen for years now (as I have developed skin sensitivity to something in them): but I always rely on a hat and covering up physically where necessary.

    And, every morning – when I water my plants, I go sans hat, sunglasses and covering up – just shorts and T-shirt, bare feet (winter I succumb to wearing shoes and a cardigan, but I pull my sleeves up to expose my hands and forearms) and let the sun love me for fifteen minutes daily. I have never felt better.

  • Catherine April, 3 2014, 3:33

    15 minutes per day of the underside of your forearms in the sun is enough to get your vitamin D. My dad has skin cancer all over and does his 15 minutes very carefully, with just his arms in the sun and the rest of him in the shade! Another friend is not so lucky. She has melanoma and the outlook isn’t good.
    You be outside, which is what feels good, without having your skin bake.

  • catherine April, 3 2014, 3:40

    15 minutes per day of just your forearms exposed is enough to satisfy your vitamin D requirement. My dad, who has lots of skin cancer, does his 15 minutes with just the undersides of his forearms in the sun and the rest of him safely in the shade. Another friend is not so lucky. She has melanoma and the outlook isn’t good.
    See this article from the New York Times:

  • C’est indispensable de se protéger… en vieillissant on le comprend (je sais de quoi je parle !!!) et je me protège quasiment tous les jours , même à Paris !

  • Just to be safe, I always just buy moisturizer that has SPF in them. For me, the lips are really what I need to take good care of ;)
    Your Friend, Jess

  • Caroline Mt April, 3 2014, 10:26 / Reply

    Et as-tu pu demander s’il fallait en mettre ou non en hiver? Car je lis de plus en plus que les filtres de crème solaire s’oxydent au bout de 2 h sur la peau ce qui l’abîme, c’est pour ça qu’il faudrait la réserver aux jours où le soleil risque vraiment d’abîmer la peau et pas en hiver! en effet, en été le soleil est fort donc mieux vaut de la crème solaire oxydante que des coups de soleil, mais à l’inverse quand il ne fait pas beau ou lumineux (hiver) la crème solaire ferait plus de mal que de bien.
    Raaaaa j’aimerais bien avoir la réponse….

  • Why don’t more foundations come with spf 30? Seems like it would be a no brainer. If you know of a good one, let me know. At this point i’m using garnier BB with spf 15.

  • Great tips, kiss!!
    Passa a trovarmi VeryFP

  • Thanks for the reminder that the sun season is here. I wear sunblock religiously on my face, but it is only recently that I have added a layer to my neck and décolletage… Much needed.

  • Merci pour ce post, j’ai la peau assez mâte mais bon je suis consciente des effets néfastes du soleil et l’année dernière j’ai un peu galéré à trouver un fond de teint avec SPF à part le shiseido compact mais je préfère les fluides. Me concernant le problème est que les crèmes solaires sont souvent trop grasses alors je réchigne à en mettre sur le visage…Mais je retiens la CC crème clinique pour cet été! J’utilise déjà la antiblemish solution donc je pense tester ça cet été :)

  • If you are looking for a GREAT CLEAN spf, I’d also recommend Juice Beauty CC Cream. It’s spf 30, slightly tinted (leaves you with a glow) and amazing!

    I LOVE it:

    A lot of sunscreens can break you out so we have to be really careful. I know a famous aesthetician who doesn’t wear any at all…she just stays in the shade and wears a hat!


  • Je ne sais pas aux U.S. mais en Europe il me semble que les cosmétique ne sont pas censés pénétrer jusqu’au derme, ils doivent rester dans les couches superficielles de la peau. L’huile empêche peut être le filtre de se mettre correctement en place mais ce ne devrait pas être un problème d’accès à cette partie profonde de la peau. A vérifier peut-être… ?

  • Spf protection is also recommend for those who stay long ours in front of screens/monitors as well. Kanebo and clinique work for me.

  • Great tips!!

    Bags and other accessories from.. on lowbudget-lowcost Fashion Blog

  • Can anyone speak to the positives/negatives of powder SPF? I think that Bare Minerals makes one that is a translucent powder – might be a good option for applying every 2 hours without ruining makeup (and de-shining during those sticky summer months).


  • Jane with the noisy terrier April, 10 2014, 7:29

    I’m a big fan of the powder SPF by Dr. Peter Thomas Roth for reapplication throughout the day, after you’ve put your makeup on. It comes in a tube that swivels up into a brush so it’s easy and handy to use and keep in your handbag. I’ll be taking it with me to Israel and Turkey next month. Dermalogica makes a great sunscreen that can be used alone or added to products (in which case it drops from 50 to 25 SPF). Sunscreens also lose their SPF value by 50% after a year–even faster if exposed to heat, so use them generously and replace often. It takes a shotglass-ful to cover your body to get the full protection of the SPF on the tube. A note to brides and grads–sunscreen does flash back in photos so maybe choose a powder version after you’ve taken your photos.

  • thanks for the tips <3

    doing a giveaway on my blog!

  • “Une crème solaire, quelle qu’elle soit, doit être appliquée toutes les deux heures” FAUX. Prenez une crème liposomale à formule “encapsulée” (les filtres solaires sont encapsulés dans les liposomes), type DAYLONG de SPIRIG, appliquez-là une seule fois par jour et vous serez protégés pour la journée. Peu cher et très performant.

  • Sun brings joy, but it can be a dangerous thing too.. I love that more and more people are aware about sun protection and its great effects! Love the science behind these products! I wrote a post about this a day ago!

  • Je sur-valide la crème Clinique. Toujours pas trouvé mieux !
    Baci, Ali

  • Thanks for this post Alex, it is the right time for it. :) My mom is obsessed with sun protection (I find that a lot of French women are) because we both have fair skin and she has been overexposed when she was young. We finally have some sun in England so I started to wear sunscreen under my makeup two weeks ago. I don’t really believe in multitasking products as regards sunscreen because it is too important (especially with my skin type). I do use a foundation that has a SPF for fall/winter but then I have to combine it with a sunscreen during spring/summer.

    Although you gave really nice tips and informations (I had no idea about the difference between the SPF numbers and it is always difficult to choose when buying a product), you didn’t mentioned a problem that I find with sunscreen which is the fact a lot of them are greasy. I don’t know about you but I have to buy 1 for my face and 1 for my body. Two years ago I found the perfect one for my face that is Avène Cleanance Sun protection (SPF 30) which is made for acne prone skin. I don’t have acne anymore but I have a combination skin. This sunscreen does not grease my face nor causes breakouts so I highly recommend it. ;) I also like Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily UV Defense (SPF 50) sunscreen for the body because it is not sticky or too thick.

    Btw, the picture is really lovely, it is such a nice candid shot.

  • Anthelios by Roche Posay do a sunscreen for oily skins, which goes on matt. Their sunscreens are really good, very light texture, strong protection, broad spectrum and they’re all hypo-allergenic. The only complaint I have is that they don’t sink in immediately, but otherwise they’re great.

  • Thanks for the recommendation Lisa. :-) I will try it for this summer to compare with my Avène one.

  • Viktoire April, 3 2014, 12:59 / Reply

    C’est vrai qu’il faut protéger notre peau toute l’année…
    Vive le soleil et les premiers rayons !
    Et merci pour ces beaux conseils.


  • Really great post you made here especially now the sun really is starting “burning”

  • Jill Kargman says the only good spf is a building!

  • I think the sunscreen should go first, before the moisturizer, to be most effective. The protecting barrier is created when the sunscreen reacts with the skin. And when the pharmaceutical companies test their sunscreen for effectiveness, they test it on bare skin. Not with moisturizer in between. The efficiency goes down if you put in barriers. Unless you think your moisturizer is magic that disappears into the skin. Oh well !

  • Je viens de découvrir l’UV Plus HP SPF 40 de Clarins qui est super car il se glisse dans un sac à main même petit et qu’i permet des retouches en cours de journée totalement invisibles. Le top, so far!

  • My very fair skinned friend was told by a dermatologist to use Factor 30 as anything higher than that has a nominal affect. Once you get higher than SPF 30 its just a marketing ploy…no idea if it’s true or not, but thought it was interesting!

  • These were the exact questions I wanted to ask you when I read the other post about oil. Thanks for the tips, Alex!

  • Nice post! But please keep in mind it depends on what kind of spf you use. A chemical one needs to penetrate. But a mineral spf sits on top and creates a barrier or film.

  • Roslyn April, 4 2014, 4:33 / Reply

    I have porcelain white skin, am 44, live in Australia & love tennis & swimming. However good your sunscreen is (and I’m a fan of the Invisible Zinc range esp with built in moisturiser) no sunscreen beats a broad brimmed hat. I use sunscreen every day & always wear a hat. Always. I go home if I’ve forgotten it as I now feel naked without!

  • MissPimpin April, 4 2014, 4:34 / Reply

    Merci pour tous ces conseils, mais sérum+crème (ou huile)+solaire+maquillage, ça fait pas un peu beaucoup ??? genre plâtre, non ? suis pas sûre qu’il faille pas limiter la protection solaire aux vacances, après tout, c’est bon pour le moral de la peau du soleil !!!

  • Roslyn April, 4 2014, 4:36 / Reply

    PS my dermatologist told me that you get enough vitamin d if a little of your arm or leg is exposed for a few minutes a day – no need to toast the face!

  • Federica April, 4 2014, 5:10 / Reply

    Buongiorno ! I discovered last year this fabulous products in the U.S.: Marie-Veronique Organics “Pacific Sunscreen Everyday Sheer Coverage, SPF 20” and I have made it my everyday sunscreen…
    The brand seems to be very natural and it is very effective on my skin at the same time ;)
    Now I have found this website to order them whether I am in Europe, Italy or anywhere
    PS. Gals, have u discovered that brand?? Would love to know how it works on your skin ;)
    Grazie Garance for your posts and topics that are always spot on!!!

  • I love Marie Veronique Organics!!! I use all the Pacific line, I was worried about using oil on my skin but it just feels amazing, after one week my pores were thiner and and a nice glow. They also have a more basic line M.V.O. and the Sunscreen Everyday Sheer Coverage has SPF 30 and a hint of color, perfect matte skin, you don’t have to worry about shine or skin breakouts. If you are in Spain/Europe you can also find it at

  • Appert April, 4 2014, 5:51 / Reply

    Tellement vrai!!
    J’ai adopté un produit Clarins l’écran multiprotection SPF 40 de Clarins qui est plus léger pour ma peau (un peu encore acnéique, à plus de 30 ans çà commence à bien faire!)
    et fait très bien son boulo. C’était une proposition de ma dermato et j’ai pas regretté, le flacon est pas très grand ms pas besoin d’en mettre beaucoup, c’est très fluide!

  • I just started chemo which makes me super sunsensitive so now I’m all about the sunscreen. I just discovered powdered sunscreen! It goes on like a face powder so I can keep reapplying throughout the day without messing up my makeup. I got it at Sephora.

  • I use DDF with SPF 15 in the morning (no need for more protection during the day… I leave in the early morning and work in a hospital, so no windows). For the afternoon, I keep a Cetaphil SPF 50 in my car and apply it to my hands and face before driving back from work, or whenever I’m driving and it’s sunny. It’s super hot where I live, though. I wonder if anything bad can happen to my sunscreen from the heat?

  • Toujours pas trouvé mieux !

  • Vanessa April, 7 2014, 12:08 / Reply

    There is a contradiction in the information. Dr. Lens says that the sunscreen will not reach the dermis through oil and serum. Yet, he says to apply the sunscreen after serum and moisturizer. oil is meant to hold in the skin’s moisture and thus be impenetrable. Could the sunscreen be applied first, then wait 15 to 20 minutes and then apply the serum or oil? It stands to reason that the more product between the skin and the sunscreen will delay the penetration of the sunscreen.
    I suppose the best regime is the one that works best for the individual’s skin. Personally, as I am in that awkward and awful peri menapause state where the skin is very dry, flaky and so sensitive that I use moisturizer and wear hats and sunglasses. This protects my hair as well.

    Il faut souffrir pour etre belle!

  • Armelle April, 9 2014, 7:38 / Reply

    Rien ne protègera aussi bien du soleil que le chapeau et l’ombre.
    (c’est mon chirurgien dermato qui me l’a dit).

  • Charlotte April, 10 2014, 1:46 / Reply

    I get so angry when I hear doctors that say we must wear spf all year round and all the time. It is the sun, it creates life and we need it! Vitamin D deficiency has become such a bit problem because we are inside too much and only step outside with sun protection! Everyone should get about 20 mins in the sun without spf every day. At least. Also, have you every looked at the ingredients of sunscreens? They are absolutely toxic. You might get skin cancer from those ingredients instead of the sun. Did you know that many organic oils have a natural spf (coconut, jojoba)? Sure it’s low, but it’s better than nothing and surely enough if you’re not at the beach. Mineral makeup is additional protection.

  • Great article! We are linking to this great article on our website. Keep up the great writing.

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