TikTokers Love Powder Sunscreen. Is It Effective?

powder sunscreen

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Key Takeaways

  • Powder sunscreen is becoming more popular, especially for people who don’t like the stickiness or scent of liquid sunscreen.
  • Dermatologists say powder sunscreen is safe and easy to use, but it’s best to use it as a reapplication on top of cream or lotion sunscreen.
  • Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30.

Most people are familiar with sunscreen in lotion or spray formulas, but TikTokers are raving about how easy it is to layer powder sunscreen over makeup.

Dermatologists on TikTok noted that powder sunscreen can help soak up oil and sweat while protecting skin against sun damage. Some have touted it as a quick and easy alternative to liquid sunscreen.

However, some TikTokers pointed out that you would need to use an unusual amount of powder to achieve the level of SPF that’s advertised on the product label.

Is powder sunscreen worth your time or is it best to stick with more traditional formulas? We asked a few dermatologists to weigh in.

Powder Sunscreen 101

Powder sunscreen is a convenient alternative to regular setting powder. It typically comes with a built-in brush, allowing you to simply uncap and brush it on your face or chest.

Gary Goldenberg, MD, a New York-based board-certified dermatologist and founder of Goldenberg Dermatology, said that powder sunscreen isn’t new—it’s been around for years in the cosmetics industry.

This type of sunscreen often uses “physical blockers” like zinc oxide, Goldenberg said, which can form a barrier against harmful sun rays.

While powder sunscreens have gotten mixed reviews on social media, doctors are generally in favor of them—when they’re used properly.

“Powdered sunscreens are great, mostly because they’re an easy way to reapply sunscreen without ruining your makeup,” Ife J. Rodney, MD, the founding director of Eternal Dermatology + Aesthetics, told Verywell. “If you have a cream formulation of sunscreen, you can’t apply that on top of your foundation without impacting it—and that limits some people from reapplying sunscreen.”

How to Use Powder Sunscreen Effectively

Powder sunblock is best used as a reapplication after you have already applied a layer of sunscreen lotion or cream on your face, Rodney said.

“It should not be your main or base sunscreen layer,” she said. “It’s supplemental and should not replace using a cream-based sunscreen as your base layer first thing in the morning.”

How often you should reapply powder sunscreen depends on your activities throughout the day. “If you’re in the sun, you should reapply every two hours,” Rodney said. “If you’re indoors, you can reapply at lunchtime or whenever you’re taking a break.”

Rodney recommends looking for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher. If you have sensitive skin, try a mineral formula, which contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Go with a brand you know and trust, especially if your skin tends to get irritated by facial products, Goldenberg added. “Make sure the product agrees with your skin so that it doesn’t cause irritation or acne,” he said.

What This Means For You

Powder sunscreen can be a safe and easy way to reapply sunscreen throughout the day without ruining your makeup. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 for best results.

By Korin Miller
Korin Miller is a health and lifestyle journalist who has been published in The Washington Post, Prevention, SELF, Women's Health, The Bump, and Yahoo, among other outlets.