Does a Tinted Moisturizer Provide More Sun Protection?

Personal/Inspirational, Skin Care

Thanks to requests from several readers, the FutureDerm daily question is back!

Here is today’s question:

Dear Nicki,

Does a tinted moisturizer provide more SPF than a non-tinted moisturizer?


Dear Sandra,

Honestly, yes, but the amount of sun protection gained is trivial.  The reason for the increase is that darker pigments will always absorb light somewhat.  This is why, for instance, those of African descent may have a natural SPF of up to 15 in their skin (The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2007).   The higher melanin (pigment) production within darker skin merits a higher natural amount of UV absorption.

Still, the amount of sun protection gained with a tinted moisturizer is minimal.  In the average nickel-sized application of moisturizer, most women are getting only about 60-80% the sun protection listed on the bottle. This is determined by the fact that most dermatologists recommend applying 1/4-1/3 a teaspoon of sunscreen (1.23-1.62 mL) to the face, but most foundation applications are approximately 1 mL. (For instance, there are an estimated 30 uses in a 30 mL bottle of foundation.)

So even if a full portion of a tinted moisturizer provided an SPF of 15 more than a non-tinted one (which it does not), you would only achieve an SPF of 9-11 from it anyway.  What’s more, the likely increase is more like an SPF of 1-2, which means you’re getting less than 1% more sun protection.

Hope this helps,

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Photo source:  e.l.f. Studio Face Swatches, originally uploaded by Mad Tofu.

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