Sweaty face/head. How to wear moisturizer, sunscreen, makeup?
September 17, 2019 10:25 AM   Subscribe

I sweat a lot, mainly from my face/head. Please help me figure out a way to wear sunscreen and/or moisturizer without looking like I forgot to close my car windows during a car wash.

I am a sweaty person in general, but I mostly sweat from my head, face, and neck. When I get hot, those are the areas to sweat first. I live in a very hot climate, with high humidity for 4-5 months of the year.

Fortunately, I have very good skin. I drink a lot of water but otherwise don't do anything to earn/deserve it. I am 32 and I am thinking more about keeping my skin in good shape as I age. The problem is that I cannot wear any kind of moisturizer or sunscreen without sweating it off. If I am not feeling warm/hot, the moisturizer/sunscreen will make my face feel warm/hot, and I will sweat it off. If the weather is hot, it's even worse. Makeup is pretty much out of the question - I wear a little concealer under my eyes for very, very dark purple circles, but I don't bother with anything else.

My typical skincare routine is washing my face daily with cold water, and exfoliating or using a face mask once a week and then applying moisturizer (must be done at night). That's it. I am extremely loyal to a Lush moisturizer because if ever my skin feels patchy or dry or different, this moisturizer seems to be the magical cure-all. I can't wear it during the day, though - even though it is light and not at all greasy, it makes my face sweat, so I only apply it once per week.

I know I need to wear sunscreen on my face everyday - I do know this, and I would like to do it, but I cannot wear any form of sunscreen without sweating profusely from my face/head. I have heard a lot about Japanese sunscreens but having tried multiple kinds of sunscreen from different countries (although not Japanese, admittedly) I don't have much faith that that is the answer.

Please help me. I know it is only a matter of time before I need to moisturize more frequently or until I look sun damaged. I don't care so much about my appearance as I do about keeping my skin happy and healthy.
posted by gursky to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I am also a massive face/head sweater and I use powder sunscreen since it's the only thing I find that sticks (and even that only sticks around for an hour or so).
posted by sperose at 10:32 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm a face-sweater too, with grooming habits similar to yours, and I disagree that you need to wear sunscreen daily. I am slightly obsessive about always having a hat when I'm in the sun, I seek out shade, and then don't worry about the intermittent moments when the sun might touch my face when it's just a few minutes at a time.

I'm in my 50s and still getting compliments about my beautiful skin, and I am not sun damaged at all.

(In truth I think face sweating is like having a facial every day, and is great for our skin.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:37 AM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]

+1 for wearing a wide brim hat. I have this one with a 5" brim and generally just put stick sunscreen on my nose, cheeks, and chin. Trade off is hat hair.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:45 AM on September 17, 2019

I know you're skeptical about Japanese sunscreen, but the cult favourite Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence is the least greasy/heavy sunscreen I have ever encountered. It really feels like wearing nothing. Not sure where you live, but you can buy it easily on eBay or Amazon.
posted by noxperpetua at 10:46 AM on September 17, 2019 [10 favorites]

this mineral powder sunscreen is very good.
posted by supermedusa at 10:47 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

When running I turn into a giant ball of sweat. If I use any sort of lotion (even giving 20-30 minutes for it to fully settle in), I feel extra warm/slick and will sweat more than usual. If I use the thin aerosol spray bottles, I don't feel the warm insulating layer. Better yet for times running into the hours, I can reapply the spray while I'm a giant ball of sweat and I appear to get sun protection from it. Attempting to apply a lotion when I'm already sweaty (even after wiping arms/shoulders with a towel to attempt to dry off) apparently doesn't actually apply, and I'll burn with continued sun exposure.
posted by nobeagle at 11:21 AM on September 17, 2019

I don't think there is a solution to fighting the sweat (and I've read a healthy sweater is a sign of good fitness, at least that's what I tell myself!).

HOWEVER, I LOVE this sunscreen (Algenist Sublime Defense) that is SPF 50, but honest to god feels like a primer. It doesn't make my skin feel greasy like every other sunscreen, it actually makes my skin feel soft and smoothed over. My makeup goes on so nicely when I use this (after moisturizer, before foundation). Using a good amount of powder (like this one) after foundation / concealer will help with shine, but obviously won't stop profuse sweatiness.

Maybe carry a cute bandana to blot off sweat throughout the day?
posted by blueberrypuffin at 11:29 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

I could have written this! I sweat so much from my hair line and forehead. I am also trying to find a moisturizer that I can wear during the day without sweating it off. At the moment I just use one at night (Celestial from Lush, which has been amazing for my skin, but definitely too heavy for me to put on during the day). I will be following this thread with interest!

The only sunscreen I have found that is manageable for me is Riemann P20, specifically the spray type rather than a creamy lotion. I spray it onto my hand rather than directly onto my face, it comes out looking like a yellowish liquid, and then rub it onto my face (and neck, arms, any other area that I need it for that particular day). It can apparently stain so be careful if you wear white, but I've not had a problem with it. I put it on a good 20 mins before I need to leave the house and then I do sweat away as normal but without that greasy horrible feeling of sweating off sunscreen or moisturizer.
posted by maybeandroid at 11:32 AM on September 17, 2019

As a person who tried the Biore Aqua Rich and similar competitors and found it eye-burny, my new love is (Japanese) Nivea Sun Protect Super Water Gel SPF 50 - "water gel" is the new hotness in Asian sunscreen, and it is the most un-there sunscreen I've ever tried. I bought it in a larger pump bottle and just pump some into my hands, rub them together, and do my face/neck/chest. It has no chalkiness or white cast either, and I am prone to face-sweats and haven't had a problem with this one - though because so much makeup etc does make me sweat, I now apply all of that stuff standing directly in front of a large fan. It helps some! You might try it and see if it short-circuits the reaction.

But if you can't get that to work, I would say move on to barrier clothing and accessories.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:40 AM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

It sounds like you make your own moisturizer, so I wouldn't worry about that.
posted by amtho at 11:45 AM on September 17, 2019

As a fellow face-sweater, I find that I'm less likely to break out in sweat after applying a moisturizer if it's gel rather than cream. I like the Body Shop Seaweed Gel Cream, though to be perfectly honest, I very rarely use it, and mostly during the winter when the air is dryer.
posted by snakeling at 12:36 PM on September 17, 2019

I have had fairly good experiences with two Japanese sunscreens: Missha All Around Safe Block Soft Finish Sun Milk (also reduces shiny appearance, slightly more sweat-resistant but feels heavier on the skin) and Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector (feels lighter on the skin, less sweat resistance, possible white cast if applied heavily, not-inexpensive).

If I know I'll be spending time outside when it's hot, rather than, like, briefly moving between climate-controlled spaces, I usually just wear a sun hat.
posted by box at 2:45 PM on September 17, 2019

I sweat on my face and scalp and neck like crazy. I have a permanent habit of carrying a bandana (folded and tucked) in my back pocket ALWAYS. Blot off the sweat. It's like wallet, keys, bandana for me. An absolute essential. Be sure to get only 100% cotton ones, and wash them a couple times before using. They take a long time to break in. I no-kidding have about 10-12 of them, and just rotate as they get dirty.
posted by SoberHighland at 4:31 PM on September 17, 2019

I know I’m a bit late to the party but I wanted to mention how great the Shisedo oil-free sunblock (mentioned by “box” above) performed for me on a miserable nasty sweaty day full of direct sunlight. Normally that spells sunburn since the sunblock sweats off too much.

I went to the zoo a couple weeks ago, that day it was about 89 and sunny and humid, AKA a miserable day to be outside if you are oily or sweaty. I put the Shisedo oil-free sunblock on my face, neck, ears, and put some kind of coppertone-sport-waterproof-whatever sunblock on my arms and legs and hands, and waited about 20 minutes to go in the sun. For the first hour of sweating the only difference was the Shisedo looked much more matte and wasn’t slightly sticky the way the Coppertone sport stuff was, the Shisedo also hadn’t smelled like anything after it dried and the Coppertone still smelled very sunblock-chemical-y the whole time.

4 more hours go by, now I was REALLY sweaty. Covered in sweat head to toe, so sweaty my long hair had become this nasty sweaty mop all the way down to the ends. I figured I must surely have a sunburn by now from not re-applying sunblock every 2 hours plus all that sweating must’ve worn it off faster. Nope, not only is my skin fine and unburned everywhere and the snblocks hadn’t sweated off, but my face looks FANTASTIC. I am visibly disgustingly drenched with sweat/grease everywhere besides my face and neck and ears, i.e everywhere that I put on the Shisedo sunblock in the morning was still free of nastiness and looked pleasantly dewy. I re-applied everything just in case and it didn’t get all nasty/cake-y/peely from additional layers of product. I also didn’t end up break out with my recurring terrible neck acne from using the Shisedo sunblock.

If anyone was thinking that the Shisedo oil-free foundation must be great or really good like their oil-free sunblock, tried that on a different day and it sadly started showing my sweat/oil after 5 minutes of not even going outdoors :( I put some mineral powder on it and that helped for maybe 60 minutes of errands and then the sweat soaked through and made the makeup look/feel slimy.
posted by marshmallow kitty at 12:48 AM on October 8, 2019

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