The 12 best foundations with SPF in 2024 reviewed by our beauty experts

We review the best foundations with SPF for bonus protection on top of your daily sunscreen

Collage of three of the best foundations with SPF featured in this guide from L'Oreal Paris, IT Cosmetics and Rare Beauty
(Image credit: L'Oréal Paris/IT Cosmetics/Rare Beauty/Future)

The best foundations with SPF should tick all the boxes in terms of having your desired coverage and finish and matching your skin tone well. But they take this benefit list a step further with the inclusion of some UV protection, too. 

Ideally, the best foundations with added SPF will help to protect the skin without compromising on a luxurious feel or flawless finish. But, can it replace the best facial sunscreen? The short answer is absolutely not. A separate sun cream for the face is essential. That's not to say that the level of protection specified on an SPF foundation's bottle is incorrect; It's to do with how much is applied. To achieve adequate protection from any SPF product, you should use around a teaspoon's worth to evenly cover your face and neck – which is probably more foundation than you usually apply.

Think of foundations with built-in SPF as a beauty bonus, offering an added layer of protection that almost fortifies your dedicated facial sunscreen. Apply this first, wait a minute or two for it to settle, and then move onto your makeup. “To create an even layer of your SPF foundation, use a buffing brush and apply your base in circular motions,” says Rose Gallagher, makeup artist and ambassador for IT Cosmetics UK and Ireland. After much testing, ahead are the formulas the woman&home team rates as the very best foundations with SPF. 

The best foundations with SPF, reviewed by our beauty experts

How we tested the best foundation with SPF

a selection of the best foundation with SPF tested for this feature

A selection of the foundations with SPF that we tested for this feature

(Image credit: Stephanie Maylor)

Since SPF can change the texture of a foundation, we wanted to make sure every foundation on this list felt comfortable on the skin. Each base has been worn by us for at least a couple of days to test the feel of the formula, given the added UV filters. Below are the factors our testers took into consideration when using each formula. 

  • Price
  • Packaging
  • Shade range
  • Consistency of the formula
  • Coverage
  • Finish
  • Inclusion of additional skincare ingredients
  • How it wore through the day

As any beauty editor worth their salt will tell you, facial sunscreen is a non-negotiable element of a morning skincare routine. With that in mind, we tested all of these foundations on top of our usual sunscreen as a "bonus" layer of protection and assessed how well they applied and wore on that basis. 

How to choose the best foundation with SPF

If you’re planning on putting your best face forward for a photo you deem worthy of a spot on your grid (if you know, you know), it’s first worth keeping in mind the type of filters used in your foundation with SPF. “When you use flash photography, SPFs can flash back in photos, essentially leading to your face looking much paler in the photo than it does in real life,” says Rose. “A physical or mineral-only SPF means you won’t see any flashback.” To pick out a mineral block, often found in the best sunscreens for sensitive skin, look for zinc oxide or titanium dioxide listed in the ingredients on your foundation. The following are also important considerations. 

  • Price: First and foremost, as with any beauty purchase, it's a good idea to have a firm idea of how much you can and want to spend before you begin browsing.
  • Finish: Do you prefer to look glowy, matte or somewhere in between? Have this in mind when shopping to ensure the formula. 
  • Skincare benefits: Rose notes that SPF can make a formula denser. With this in mind, she recommends "[Looking] out for ingredients like niacinamide, collagen, and hyaluronic acid to allow for a fresh, hydrating finish" to balance this out. 

Does the SPF in foundation work? Can it replace your usual SPF?

As mentioned earlier in our guide, no. Nowadays you’ll find UV protection in everything from face moisturiser with SPF to foundations. But is it possible to rely on moisturiser and makeup as your main form of sun defence? Abi Cleeve, MD of Ultrasun, says not. First of all, “Many foundations with SPF only offer protection from UVB rays and not UVA rays, which penetrate the skin’s surface and do long-term damage,” she explains. 

The other issue is the amount you need to apply to achieve the protection advertised on the bottle. “The official guidelines given by Colipa (the European cosmetic industry association) are 2mg/cm2 – approximately one teaspoon worth for the face,” says Cleeve. As noted above, "SPF foundations are applied a lot more thinly, thus not providing the same level of protection as 'pure' sunscreens.” The message is clear: apply a separate sunscreen first for rigorous protection. Abi recommends using a facial sunscreen of SPF 30 or above: “Choose one with broad spectrum protection to prevent damage from both UVA and UVB rays," she says. 

What are the benefits of foundation with SPF?

Though even the best foundation with SPF won't offer the same level of broad-spectrum cover that sunscreens do, Abi sees the inclusion of SPF in makeup as a positive. Think of foundation with SPF as the supporting cast member to your leading facial sunscreen. “SPF in the foundation is great as a bonus and also contributes to the overall awareness of the need for UV protection," says Abi. However, she stresses: "A separate SPF is vital for long-term protection.” Apply your dedicated sunscreen as the last step of your skincare routine before your makeup.

What does the number of SPF mean

The SPF rating applies to UVB rays, which are the ones that cause the skin to burn. As noted by CeraVe, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays, while SPF 50 blocks 98%. Protection from UVA rays, which cause premature ageing in the skin, may be indicated by a PA or star rating, but the key term to look out for is "broad spectrum". This indicates that a formula shields skin from both UVA and UVB radiation for well-rounded protection. To maintain this protection, you should reapply your chosen sunscreen every two hours. 

Stephanie Maylor

Stephanie Maylor is a Beauty Editor working across five national magazine titles, with almost 15 years' experience in the industry.  She has written for many brands, including woman&home, Grazia, Now, More!, Fabulous, NW, Woman, Woman's Own, Woman's Weekly, Essentials, Best, Chat, and OK! online. 

In 2010 she launched her own beauty blog, which was shortlisted for Best Beauty Blog in the 2011 and 2012 Johnson & Johnson Beauty Journalism Awards. She has interviewed many high profile industry experts and celebrities including Alesha Dixon, Twiggy and Christina Hendricks. 

With contributions from