We Asked A Sunscreen Expert How To Wear It Under Makeup Without Hating Life

Sunscreen, we now know, is integral to protecting ourselves from melanoma. It’s also integral if you want to maintain great skin, which isn’t the primary reason you should be using it daily (Hello! Avoid skin cancer!) but is totally a benefit on the side.

But if you wear makeup, you’ve probably struggled to find a sunscreen that works with your routine. Even if you don’t, sunscreen has a history of leaving a white cast on your face, making you look greasy, and irritating sensitive skin. It’s often easier to just not apply it – even though we know we should.

I asked Ava Matthews, founder of Ultra Violette (one of the coolest new sunscreen brands in Australia, and recently landed in Sephora stores) for her hot tips on incorporating sunscreen into your daily routine without losing your goddamn mind in the process.

1. Old formulas will be greasy on skin

According to Ava, the reason sunscreen has such a bad rap in terms of leaving skin greasy is because the old formulas required a high percentage of oil to keep the sunscreen filters stable. Now, there are water soluble SPF filters, which means lighter formulas.

Look for formulations that include Tinosorbs (types of UV filters) as they generally would have been formulated in the past 5 or so years. Some SPFs on the market were created in the late 90’s!

2. Use a hydrating SPF under makeup

If sunscreen has notoriously made your makeup run off your face in record time, look at switching to a hydrating SPF formula.

Hydrating benefits (vitamin E, glycerin, hyaluronic acid)  in an SPF should keep skin and makeup looking fresh without it running off your face. Maybe consider replacing your daily moisturiser with a hydrating SPF. Ultra Violette’s Supreme Screen SPF50+ doubles as a great moisturiser and primer under makeup.

3. Can you apply sunscreen OVER makeup?

Yes – but it takes some creativity.

We’re working on something that is going to make reapplying your SPF a lot easier. Until that’s available, then there are some SPF powders and sprays that can be reapplied over makeup (just make sure it’s made in Australia).

One hack Ava told us comes via influencer Hannah English, who worked out how to use the serum-texture Ultra Violette Queen Screen SPF 50+ over makeup by applying with a sponge.


So any super light-weight sunscreen could work the same way. It’s important to re-apply through the day, especially if you are out in the sun often.

4. Sensitive skin can benefit from a physical sunscreen

Basically there are physical sunscreens, which use Zinc / Titanium Dioxide to shield skin from the sun, and chemical. Chemical formulations can irritate very sensitive skin, which could be why you’ve always hated sunscreen.

That being said, for me personall it’s been worth trying chemical sunscreen (that’s geared toward more sensitive skin types) because my skin seems to not react if it’s fragrance free. And let’s face it, physical sunscreens are naturally heavier in consistency.

Some people find that physical SPFs (i.e. those utilising Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide as filters) are heavier on skin and can make your skin “sweat” so if you hate the feeling of traditional sunscreens, steer away from a physical and find a chemical SPF that’s lightweight in texture.

At the end of the day using sunscreen is a no-brainer. There’s no argument not to. It’s just about finding the right one for you.