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You don’t want wrinkles and sunspots, so you wear sunscreen to prevent them. While you always should wear sun-protective products, there’s a fine line between cautious and overzealous. While wearing two sunscreen products at the same time won’t hurt you, it’s important to understand how they help you individually and how combining them doesn't necessarily mean you're doubly protected.
Not a Math Problem
Even if math is your strong suit, the SPF label doesn’t mean you can add two numbers together. For example, if you are wearing SPF 15 makeup powder and 30 SPF sunscreen, this doesn’t mean you are wearing SPF 45. The number on the SPF refers to the time and percentage of protection the sunscreen provides. For example, an SPF of 15 means the sunscreen will protect you 15 times longer than your skin without sunscreen. If you burn quickly, however, this still might be a very short time. Also, a SPF 15 sunscreen blocks about 93 percent of the sun’s rays while an SPF 50 sunscreen blocks 98 percent. By wearing more than one sunscreen, you are more protected more than you were when wearing one product -- but your level of protection won’t be the same as adding your SPFs together.
You are more protected from the sun with two sunscreen products, but this won’t keep you from needing to reapply several times per day -- or more often if you are doing something that involves water, such as swimming or sweating through an extended exercise session. Most sunscreens should be reapplied every two hours to ensure they still are protecting you.
Sunblock vs. Sunscreen
Not all sun protection products work the same way. There are sunblocks and sunscreens. Sunblocks contain ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to reflect the sun’s rays. These sunscreens don’t penetrate your skin, but instead lay on top of your skin, making them less likely to cause irritation. Sunscreens like avobenzones do penetrate your skin, where they work to keep the sun’s rays from affecting your cells. If you like the extra protection of wearing two products, you should consider wearing a physical sunblock and a chemical sunscreen because each will work in different ways to keep you safe from the sun.
Sunscreen and Makeup Products
Today’s makeup manufacturers want you to look good now and in the future -- that’s why they incorporate a sunscreen into products like foundation, powders, concealers and bronzers. If you check your makeup bottles, you might find you already are wearing two or more sunscreen products on a daily basis. Unless you are clogging your skin with too many makeup products, wearing more than one sunscreen-containing product can be beneficial to your skin.