Can foundation interfere with sunscreen ingredients?

Thank you for your awesome website! Is it true that if you use a sunscreen and foundation with SPF, the SPF in the foundation can interfere with the sunscreen's ingredients, making it less effective. Also, I use a physical facial sunscreen (ZinClear) but was told today that the best sunscreens are ones that contain both physical and chemical ingredients. Do you agree?

Your welcome!   For a “physical” sunscreen that has actives that are zinc or titanium, the answer is no.   For the chemical sunscreens that rely on binding to skin cells to work, the answer is probably  –  but I’ve never seen any research done on this.   For chemical sunscreens it may make sense to put them on first or only over an antioxidant serum or gel. 

I absolutely disagree with the last statement.  Zinc oxide is the only sunscreen ingredient that blocks both UVB well and the full spectrum of UVA.  If you’re using a high percentage zinc sunscreen (8-20%) you don’t need a chemical sunscreen.   Not sure who told you that, but hopefully it wasn’t a dermatologist.   Link to sunscreens and more info on sunscreens.

Hope this helps,  Dr. I  

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

Ask me your skincare question!

Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin, and I believe that consumers need and deserve a medically trained and unbiased skincare advocate.

  • All our content is written and researched by myself and my trained staff.
  • My medical office in Seattle has experience treating thousands of patients.
  • This site is not affiliated or financially tied to any product line.
Ask Me Something
SkinTour Skincare
One of the best investments in your skin is your daily skincare. Why? Because you can prevent many problems with blotchy skin color, lack of glow, texture, some types of acne, and fine lines with good skincare products. You can also correct some of these problems with effective skincare products. Great skincare is often more expensive because quality ingredients are expensive. Some companies spend on research/development which benefits all of us and adds to the cost. Are they worth it? In general - yes!