Out of seven days in Portugal with friends recently, I wore makeup during the day just once. The rest of the time, I wore tinted mineral sunscreen, partly because time spent putting on a face when there was exploring to be done seemed silly, and partly because it's easier to re-apply high-SPF sunscreen over sunscreen rather than makeup. The thing is that tinted sunscreen on its own can make the skin look rather flat. And when you're pale like me, or paler, tinted sunscreen is often a smidge or more too dark.
what i WON'T do with mineral sunscreen
Sure, you could mix a little white mineral sunscreen in to lighten the tint, but I won't do that because I'm not certain how mixing one formula with another might compromise them both. Sunscreen has to cover skin evenly, including those areas that frequently stretch and crease. Mixing two formulas together might result in a patchy coverage that only looks even, and it might affect the durability of the coverage as well.
Or you could drop some foundation or pigment into plain mineral sunscreen to customize a tint, but I won't do that either because I refuse to compromise the level of SPF promised on the label. Plus, adding pigment will absolutely affect how thoroughly the sunscreen covers the skin and for how long. "It's only a drop," people say, but how many drops are you starting with? Four or five drops of sunscreen? And will each drop of pigment and sunscreen be exactly the same amount every single day? Nope, I'm not playing SPF roulette, thanks.
Despite my strong feelings on the subject, if you choose to tint your mineral sunscreen with pigment or foundation, at least you're wearing protection, even if you don't know exactly what that protection level is or whether it covers skin properly.
what i WILL do with mineral sunscreen
I'm just pale enough that tinted mineral sunscreen is a tiny bit dark for me. I'm also just pale enough that I can wear regular, tint-free mineral sunscreen by itself. If I apply bit by bit and rub it in, I get very little white cast, and besides, it helps to temper any redness in my complexion without looking ghostly (unless it's Shiseido mineral Wet Force SPF 50, which made me look like a zombie). But one day in Portugal, a trick occurred to me: why not layer the tinted and un-tinted versions like foundation and illuminator? As in the tinted version all over, let it dry, then dab the plain white mineral sunscreen wherever I want to add a bit of glow?
To maintain formula integrity, Stephen Baldwin (Senior Associate Director of Global Suncare Formulation Development at Bayer, the company that makes Coppertone), and Naomi Furgiuele, (Senior Director of Global Beauty Face Care at Johnson & Johnson, makers of Neutrogena and Aveeno) both advise that it's better to let a base layer of unadulterated sunscreen dry before applying anything on top. And wherever we went in Portugal, I always had a tinted and un-tinted mineral sunscreen with me, so I could apply and re-apply on the go. So....
The result is in face photos in this post. In the right light – always important – tinted mineral sunscreen with a bit of non-tinted mineral sunscreen on top made my skin look luminous and far younger than it is. The combo looks best over skincare that gives my skin a dewy finish, by the way – not-so-much over anything matte. And I'd get more dimension if I used a tinted sunscreen with a deeper hue, of course.
I also put plain SPF 50 mineral sunscreen on my lips, let it set, then topped it with a teeny touch of lip gloss to give it a little colour. (Probably reduced the SPF level somewhat because gloss is so emollient, but I didn't have a mineral SPF lip balm with me. Coola makes one, by the way; it comes in eight shades, including nudes, pink, bronze and red that can double as face colour. )
This mostly-sunscreen face isn't for everyone, of course. I did rather envy some of the really well put-together tourists with pretty makeup and hair and super-cute outfits. But although I missed having brows and eyelashes (this would've been an ideal time for lash extensions), I chose not to put that effort in.
If you're wondering why it's taken me until now to figure this mineral-sunscreen approach out, it's because I'm so indoorsy, especially in the height of sunshine weather. I actively dislike being in direct sunlight and tend to prefer the protection of a whole building and lowered blinds rather than sunscreen. But there's no avoiding the relentless sunshine in the Algarve... a story about that is coming soon.
In the meantime, please enjoy a slideshow (that will look better on your phone) from the trip with my lovely friends (who planned everything): Deborah, Stephanie and Heidi. We went to the Algarve, Sintra and Lisbon; this is a quick overview!
The LaSpa SPF 30 Moisturizing Mineral Sunscreen ($40 at laspanaturals.com*) in the slideshow is just one of the options I had with me in Portugal. It's fragrance-free and made (in 🇨🇦!) with certified-organic coconut oil, beeswax, carnuba wax, avocado oil and rosemary leaf extract. It's a little on the oily side, but my skin likes it. I just wish it were an SPF 50. The brand recently launched a mineral SPF 50 Ultra Sun Protection Stick ($18 at laspanaturals.com), but I haven't tried it. I'll use this 30 in greyer months; my skin will really like it in the winter. LaSpa uses "non-toxic" in their marketing, though... ugh.
In the headshots, I'm wearing Vichy Ideal Soleil SPF 60 Mineral Ultra Fluid Tinted Lotion ($28.50 at well.ca; they ship to the USA) with Aveeno Sensitive Skin SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen ($15.97 CAD at amazon.ca and $9.99 USD at target.com) on top, down the centre of my face. As well, on most days I wore a UPF 50 hat with a giant brim – it's in the slideshow. (Sunscreen isn't great as a first line of sun defence, especially if it's mineral, a fact that's part of my upcoming story.)
Do you wear tinted mineral sunscreen? Have you ever tried one that's too dark for you? Do you already use tinted and un-tinted mineral sunscreen this way?
shoppity shop-shop tinted mineral sunscreen
shoppity shop-shop mineral sunscreen
*laspanaturals.com is a non-affiliate link