Brush on sunscreens are like icing on the skincare cake

Here’s a riddle for you. How can you reapply sunscreen without messing up the full face of makeup you applied that morning? Powder sunscreen of course! (I finally figured out how to contour, so now I need to keep it for the day!)


Talk of brush-on sunscreens started popping up a few years ago, and I have to say I drank the Kool Aid.  They have become one of my favorite tricks to protect my face during the day. I look at them like the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae.  They give your face an extra layer of protection over whatever you already have on. Translation - you can use it as touch up during the day to make sure you are sun protected without having to take off or ruin your makeup.  It is perfect to apply if you know you are going to be outside for lunch or to take a long walk in the park.

Similar to powder makeup, brush on sunscreen uses mineral pigment to give both sun protection and cosmetic benefits also. How ingenious, right? They are made of combinations of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide just like you would find in a traditional mineral sunscreen.  Some even contain iron oxide, an ingredient that Dr. Z. tells me can help prevent infrared damage that leads to dark spots. And like regular makeup powders, brush on sunscreen helps minimize shine, give you a matte appearance, and can save my oily T-zone.

So what’s the rule on how to use them?  I wish I knew, but I can’t find any definitive recommendations. My best advice is to apply generously and often.  They all come in plastic containers that connect the powder to a brush, and you have to shake and tap it to get the powder out.  I try to cover my face a few times to make sure enough goes on. (Sometimes it is honestly hard to tell how much is actually coming out!)  For this reason, I don’t use them alone, and I don’t think anyone should use them, as their ONLY method of sun protection. I always use my regular sunscreen first and look at this as something extra.  I definitely don’t think this counts as the re-application, when Dermatologists say to reapply every 2 hours. There’s just no way that you can get enough on evenly to get what a lotion sunscreen gives you.  

Even though brush on sunscreens do not take the place of traditional sunscreens, they are easy to use, don’t cause irritation (which means you can even use it if you have sensitive skin), they work along your hairline and in your part, they aren’t greasy (in fact mattify the skin), and they are easy to carry in your purse.  These are the products I have been using.   

1. Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush on Shield SPF 50. To my knowledge, this was the first brush on sunscreen to become really popular.  It comes as both an SPF 30 and 50, but I always like the highest level of protection possible, so I go for the the 50.  Besides the sun protection benefits, I like that this powder comes in 4 different shades. While my skin is normally light/medium, I actually use the tan color because it gives my skin a sun-kissed glow like a bronzer.  It costs $65, and you can get it from online retailers or the colorescience website itself.

2. Brush on Block Touch of Tan SPF 30.  The great part about this powder is the more you put on, the tanner you look.  It is easy to remove as you wash your face, doesn’t leave you feeling greasy, and doesn’t clump around the hairline like foundation makeups do.  This one costs $31.


3. Isdin Fotoprotector SunBrush Mineral SPF 30.  My husband actually brought this one back for me from Spain, when he went to visit Isdin Headquarters.  It is easy to use, comes in a neutral shade, and gave a nice cosmetic benefit to the skin. It is available from your local dermatologist, or you can find it on ebay for about $38.

For their convenience, easy use, and cosmetic as well as sun protection benefits, brush on powder suncreens are #TheDermWifeApproved.