Brides are always asking me whether they should skip facial SPF on their wedding day.
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There is a lot of noise out there about facial SPF’s and flashback with flash photography, which makes many brides panic and think their faces will flare white in their (super expensive!) wedding pictures.
Because I am such a die-hard facial SPF obsessive, (I like to think of my self as an SPF enthusiast, but really, who am I kidding??)
I would never in a million years even consider being out in the sunshine without a facial SPF myself, so there is no way I would ever advise a bride to go get herself a good burn on her big day.
But I do have some rules when it comes to the subject:
1. No Moisturizer Containing SPF
There are two main reasons that I am anti moisturizers that contain SPF.
Firstly they are deceiving. Most girls don’t apply a large dollop of moisturizer and then work it in evenly across their entire face, throat and decolletage. It takes a thick, even coating to get the advertised SPF value – you may think you are applying SPF 20 but actually may only be getting random patches of SPF 2.
Secondly I don’t know what the active ingredients are. And for the most part I’m not interested in wasting time on a wedding day googling the bride’s moisturizer to see what the SPF ingredients are.
They probably are going to involve zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, the two main culprits in SPF flashback.
I prefer to use my own moisturizers or hydrators on my bride’s skin, so that I can get the skin prepped the way I want it, have no greasy film on the surface of the skin, and then apply my own, photo friendly facial SPF in a layer that will protect the skin properly (otherwise the whole exercise is a waste of time) and that will not flare under flash.
2. No Foundation Containing SPF
Mostly for the same reasons as the moisturizer equation, but also because the foundations I use are pro foundations, and don’t come with SPF. I need my bride to look flawless for 12 to 14 hours, so I use foundations that are designed to last that long, look gorgeous on camera, but also look like beautiful skin to anyone standing close or leaning in for a kiss.
My personal feeling is that if I were to go after the SPF protection on the bottle I would need a thick, opaque layer of foundation, which is the exact opposite of the look I’m going for.
3. Use a free standing facial SPF.
By that I mean it is it’s own product, not built into anything else.
When you use a freestanding SPF you are completely aware of where you are applying it, and how evenly you are applying it. You actually can get the protection advertised on the product.
I have two main facial SPF products that I use not only on weddings, but also on any outdoor shoot, be it with models or actresses, or anyone else. I like them for the protection, I like that they don’t leave any greasy residue, and I love that they never, ever flashback.
The first is Kiehls Super Fluid UV Defense SPF 50+
Oil free, super lightweight, broad spectrum (protection against both UVA and UVB rays) with a patented photo-stabilizing technology, this one not only gives you long lasting protection, but is weightless. Some facial SPF’s feel heavy, I like that this one feels like it disappears into the skin
The second is Neutrogena Dry Touch With Helioplex SPF 85
This is the product that I wear 365 days per year. I buy the highest SPF number they have on the shelf – If they have 100, I buy SPF 100, if the highest they have is SPF 75. I buy SPF 75.
There is some debate about the efficacy of anything over SPF 30, but the way I see it with sun damage being the leading cause of skin aging, and with my desire to completely avoid melanoma and carcinoma, if there is so much as a whisper of a chance that there might just possibly be more protection in a bottle of SPF 85 than in SPF 30, you can count me in!
Neutrogena’s product is definitely heavier than the Kiehls product, but it’s dry touch finish is perfect for makeup.
4. If You Insist
If you insist on using your existing facial SPF that has flare potential, you can minimize the flashback by setting your foundation with a loose, color pigmented powder like Makeup Forever Super Matte Powder, which is a staple in my pro kit.
5. If You’re Still Not Convinced…
Think about what time of day you will be outdoors having pictures taken. If your pictures are happening after 3:30 when the sun is starting to soften a little (this does not apply to Phoenix, where the sun is white hot until much later), and you really don’t want to risk wearing a sunscreen, you can probably get away with not wearing it. Personally, I would always wear SPF, but that’s just me…
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