It may be almost September, but the sun is still out and strong as ever. At SeeMe Beauty, we’re all about SPF these days (have you met our new Walking on Sunshine SPF?), and it seems we’re not the only ones! Every other primer, foundation, tinted moisturizer and more often comes full of SPF. Your first instinct may be to reach for all products containing SPF — sunscreen, lotion, makeup — and layer them in order to get maximum coverage. If you layer them all you'll be extra protected, right? Not exactly.
“The protection you get when layering SPF products such as primer, moisturizer, sunscreen, and foundation is not additive,” says Dr. Caroline Robinson, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Tone Dermatology. In other words, layering SPF products doesn’t help you block more rays. "All of our life we're taught that one apple plus one apple equals two apples," says Massachusetts dermatologist Papri Sarkar. "Intuitively you should be able to get an additive effect." But this is not the case when it comes to SPF.
If you layer three products with SPF 30, it’s the same thing as applying one layer of SPF 30 sunscreen. When products have different SPF levels, you’ll be left with the protection level of whichever you used the most of. (As Dr. Robinson points out, “Some of us tend to use makeup more sparingly, and skip certain areas like the ears and chest,” which is why she doesn’t recommend relying on makeup for sun protection.)
"SPF measures how much of the sun's UVB rays are blocked but layering products doesn't improve the amount of active ingredients in the cream," Sarkar explains. "The only way to change the SPF is to change the amount of active ingredients within the formulation. Applying more on top doesn't add any extra coverage."
Not only that, but if you apply the same amount of all the products you layer, your net SPF still won’t be greater than the highest individual SPF in the bunch. “The most important thing to remember when layering,” Dr. Robinson adds, “is that one product should provide you with adequate protection independent of the other layers you apply.”
Keep that in mind when you’re getting ready for the day and be sure to include our Walking on Sunshine SPF 30 in your routine!