Do Powders With SPF Offer Adequate Sun Protection?

Powders with SPF can seem a great alternative to sunscreen, especially if you have oily skin. They don’t feel oily or greasy on the skin, help control oil production and make your makeup last longer. But do they offer adequate sun protection too?

How much powder do I need for reliable protection?

Powders with SPF can provide the level of protection stated on the packaging, but only if applied liberally, which is impossible to do. According to Dr Leslie Baumann, “when scientists test facial powders to determine SPF (as mandated by the FDA), they typically assume that 2mg of product will be used per cm2 of skin. The average face is about 600cm2 (although that varies from person to person, of course), meaning that a person needs to apply about 1.2g of facial powder to get the SPF stated on the product’s label. Studies show that most women only apply about 0.085g of powder at a time. In a nutshell, you’d have to apply 14 times the amount of powder you usually do to be sufficiently protected against the sun!” There is no way anyone could apply that much powder to their faces, even if they want to!

So, are powders with SPF useless then?

No, they aren’t. While powders with SPF aren’t a substitute for sunscreen, they can enhance sun protection if applied over sunscreen or foundation with SPF. And if you need to do any touch ups throughout the day (provided that you don’t spend too much time outdoors, especially during the hot summer days), a powder with SPF is a good way to do it: this way you’ll be reapplying both your makeup and sunscreen. But make sure that your powder contains psychical sunscreen ingredients (Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide) as chemical ones need to get into contact with the skin to be activated and so, if applied on top of makeup, they won’t provide much protection at all. But in any case, powders with SPF are always good to set your makeup and keep oil at bay.

Do you use powders with SPF?

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  1. says

    thanks for the info! i had no idea that we needed THAT much of powder to act as a sunblock. I do have powder with SPF but it is not a major factor that i consider while buying since i usually use sunscreen and foundation with SPF already. But good to know! ­čśë

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Xin, I know, right? That’s a lot of powder! Better to stick to sunscreen and use the powder only for touch-ups. :)

  2. says

    Thanks for this! I was always skeptical that powders could provide sufficient protection, so it’s good to see facts regarding this! It would be impossible for me to put 1g of powder on my face, hehe.

    You make a good point about the physical sunscreen ingredients for a powder. I’ll make sure that the next powder I buy has them!
    kuri┬┤s last blog post ..some long-term lemmingsMy Profile

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Kuri, you’re welcome. I’m glad you find the post helpful. I don’t think anyone could put on that much eheh. And it’s always good to make sure your powder contains chemical filters so you know you’re protected even if you’re wearing makeup. :)

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Trisha, I agree with you. It’s better than nothing indeed but it still shouldn’t be used as a replacement for sunscreen. :)

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Dao, that’s true. It’s just impossible to get the level of protection stated on the packaging unfortunately. Using sunscreen and then powder is the best option.

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Tammy, you’re welcome. It’s a shame we need to apply that much to be properly protected as it’s just impossible to do so.

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Paris, I’m not a fan of sunblock in powder form either. I think it’s much easier to get adequate protection from a lotion that a powder.

  3. says

    I don’t usually use a power with SPF, but one of the ones I have supposedly has an SPF of 55 (by Physician’s Formula). I can’t imagine applying 14x the amount of that powder I use. That’s crazy! I don’t rely on the SPF from powder, but when I went to the pool all day last week I put on tons of regular sunscreen and then put the powder on over it for a little extra protection.
    Jeni┬┤s last blog post ..Good Plastic SurgeryMy Profile

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Jeni, sunscreen + powder is definitely the best option. And it’s crazy indeed the amount of powder you have to apply for reliable sun protection!

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Amanda, I agree with you. I would chose one with SPF too, but I just wouldn’t rely solely on it for sun protection.

  4. says

    Thanks for this! I love to read about sunscreens.

    My question is a bit different: I use Olay’s sensitive day cream with SPF15 if I don’t spend more than 20 minutes outside (instead of the usual SPF 50 Japanese sunscreen), but have been wondering if that is enough, because you need to apply a teaspoon of sunscreen to get the entire protection (right?), but I’m not applying that much moisturizer, of course. What do you think?
    (I am applying mineral make-up on top.)
    Julia┬┤s last blog post ..I need one of theseMy Profile

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Julia, you’re welcome. Well, if you’re not applying the recommended amount, then you’re getting a much lower level of protection (about SPF 4 or 5). If only spend 20 minutes outside a day (and stay away from windows too), that may just be enough but I would still recommend you apply sunscreen in conjunction with it to be on the safe side. Hope this helps.

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