Picture the scene: You, on holiday, in a bikini that’s the perfect combination of effortlessly cool and entirely supportive (you haven’t found it yet, but you will. You will), sipping a piña colada, lounging on a deckchair and feeling the sun on your face.
In this vision, is your face bare and primed for sun-protected tanning? Are you wearing a red lip? Full foundation and eyeliner, in knowledge that you have no plans to get into the sea?
It’s a question that will inform everything from your packing choices (that white top really does only look good with a statement lip) to the amount of liquids you can fit in your little resealable bag, so it’s worth sorting it out: is it a good idea to wear makeup while you’re sunbathing?
A recent study suggested that wearing makeup is better than wearing sunscreen alone when it comes to reducing the risk of skin cancer.
Research from the Australasian College of Dermatologists suggests that makeup’s blend of SPF ingredients, pigment (meaning colour, basically), and reflectors helps to protect your skin against the sun’s damaging rays, preventing signs of ageing and skin cancer.
The researchers suggested that foundation, powders, blusher, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick (rather than lipgloss) act to create another barrier between the sun and your skin.
That’s only the case if these products are applied on top of sunscreen, mind you. Makeup’s definitely not a replacement for your factor 50.
Lead researcher Dr Artemi said: ‘We can advise that functional coloured cosmetics should be added to long standing advice to further reduce the risk of skin cancer and premature ageing, as well as protecting against the increasing danger of air pollution.’
So that’s good to know. Anything that reduces our risk of skin cancer is a wonderful thing.
But beyond the prevention of skin cancer, does wearing makeup in the sun have any other benefits? Or will it leave us with clogged pores and a super fun holiday breakout?
Facialist Kate Kerr tells metro.co.uk that the impact makeup will have on the skin ‘depends entirely on the formula being used’.
‘Liquid foundations sit on the skin’s surface, which can be a problem in the sun, as they will prevent your sweat from flushing out the cell debris within the pore,’ she explains.
‘The sebaceous gland is also stimulated, causing an increase in oil production which, mixed with certain foundations can also lead to skin congestion.
‘Clogged pores are bad news for your skin, as this will trap bacteria, leading to breakouts.’
Add in to that the general negative effects of the summer on our skin, and we could be in trouble.
The increased heat in the summer months stimulates not only our sweat glands, but also our skin’s oil glands, creating an excess of oil and sweat that mixes with dead skin cells. This can lead to skin irritation, blockages, and breakouts. Pleasant.
Adding makeup to the mix can complicate things, and if you’re using comedogenic (meaning it sinks into pores) products, you’re heading straight to a breakout.
But it’s not all bad news – you just need to be a little clever when it comes to summer skincare – and the makeup you throw on top of your sunscreen.
First off, make sure you use a lightweight, oil-free sunscreen that’s designed specifically your face, rather than the greasy stuff you put on your body that can end up blocking your pores.
If you’d like some coverage, try a mineral powder, a tinted sunscreen, or, if you want to really smooth things out, choose an oil-free, lightweight foundation rather than anything too heavy.
Remember that even with makeup on top, sunscreen does need to be reapplied throughout the day – and that can be tricky if you’ve got to reapply your makeup each time. That’s why it’s probably best to keep things simple – no contouring and baking – and skip anything you’d be really annoyed about redoing every few hours. A bold lip is always a good shout as it’s minimal faff.
Kate notes that frequent reapplication of sunscreen can lead to an increase of oil production in the skin, leading to a breakout.
But we repeat: that does not mean skipping reapplication and hoping for the best.
Instead, Kate recommends deep cleansing along with a clay mask every evening, just to get rid of any clogged pores and lingering nasty stuff.
Oh, and most importantly, remember that while makeup and sunscreen will lower the risk of skin cancer and skin damage, baking in the sun for hours is rarely a good idea, regardless of whether you’re wearing makeup.
Over 80% of skin ageing is due to damage caused by UVA and UVB exposure, and any hint of a tan or sunburn is a sign that your skin is getting damaged.
When you’re sunbathing, feel free to wear makeup if it makes you feel good.
But don’t lounge for hours when the sun’s at its highest, reapply suncream regularly, and if you’re really keen to go brown, be mindful that a fake tan is always a good shout.