First, make sure both formulas are compatible, say our experts.
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woman applying sunscreen to face
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Everyone knows that sunscreen is a must—always, no matter the season, weather, or time of day (though, you can skip it at nighttime!). And though you understand its importance, you might not know how to layer base makeup over said SPF. If you're hoping to wear foundation, concealer, or powder overtop your sunscreen, it helps to know how to apply them to avoid any textural inconsistencies—an issue that might drive you to skip SPF application, which shouldn't be an option. That's why we spoke with two makeup artists and asked them to explain everything you need to know about properly blending base on top of your sunscreen. You won't want to skip your moisturizer, either. We gathered insight from a dermatologist to figure out if you put sunscreen on before or after moisturizer, too. Armed with their advice, you will be able to stay protected while you put your best face forward.

First, apply moisturizer before sunscreen.

You already know to apply sunscreen first and foundation second—but there's another common question that crops up just ahead of this application process: Should you put on sunscreen before or after moisturizer? According to Dr. Ellen Marmur, a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of MMSkincare, the answer is definitively after. "The sun protection ingredients [in sunscreen] intercept the photons and repel them from the skin. Think of having little baseball mitts on the skin catching the energy balls aka photons," she says. "They need to be external to your moisturizer to work best." It's not recommended to combine your separate moisturizers and sunscreens to apply both simultaneously—the protective ingredients need to be evenly distributed. If you want to save time, choose a hybrid. "I'd go with a formulation intentionally made as a moisturizer with SPF," Dr. Marmur adds. "The mineral sunscreens tend to be more moisturizing." After you apply moisturizer and sunscreen, you're ready for the next step—foundation.

Ensure your sunscreen and foundation formulas are compatible.

According to Cover FX lead makeup artist Megan Curtin, your sunscreen and foundation formulas must be compatible, which means they were created with ingredients that won't repel each other. This can lead to pilling, she notes. "Silicone is typically the culprit for causing pilling (when your product rolls up in tiny balls on your skin), but that doesn't mean you should avoid it altogether—just make sure you're not using too much of it in each of your products," she shares. "For instance, a lightweight moisturizer underneath a sunscreen oil will create a great dewy base for a liquid foundation. Try layering Cover FX's Custom Blending Moisturizer ($42, dermstore.com), SPF 30 Booster Drops ($45, ulta.com), and Natural Finish Foundation ($45, dermstore.com). None of them are heavily laden with silicone."

Let your sunscreen fully dry.

When it comes to certain sunscreen and foundation formulas that don't blend well, that means the former wasn't yet dry before you applied the latter. "The key to successfully applying foundation over sunscreen is to allow the SPF to completely absorb—and then apply foundation as desired," says Paul Garcia, YSL Beauty's director of education and artistry. This practice goes beyond sunscreen and base application: It's best to allow your moisturizer, sunscreen, and primer to fully sink in before moving on to the next step, culminating in your foundation.

Use a face-specific sunscreen.

For the best results, Garcia says to opt for a face-specific sunscreen formula—we love Supergoop! Mineral Sheerscreen SPF 30 PA ($38, sephora.com)—and to focus on blending it into skin before you even think about foundation. This will also help prevent pilling. You shouldn't, however, think that you're ready and set after your base has been applied; according to Garcia, SPF reapplication is a must, which is why he suggests stocking up on other face-centric sun protection products that can be placed over makeup. Spray formulas, like Kate Somerville's Uncomplikated SPF Soft Focus Makeup Setting Spray ($44, ulta.com), or powder iterations, like Colorscience's Sunforgettable Total Protection Sheer Matte Sunscreen Brush SPF 30 ($45, dermstore.com), are best.

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