The Myths About Flashback!

April 02, 2019

6 minutes Read

The Myths About Flashback!

Flashback is one of those makeup words that some people fear or else one that a lot of people aren't even aware of!

If you're someone reading this and wondering what is flashback it is basically  a reaction between your face and the physical flash of a camera. Yes of course it makes you look brighter and more obvious in certain situations but when SPF or heavy powders are involved it can be make you look casper-like or as if you have a load of talcum powder on your face….supposedly. Ever wondered why you're ghostly white in the middle of your friends even though you have three layers of tan on? Well know you know! Basically, all the fancy makeup technology that protects your face from the sun is stuff that’s built to reflect light. So when a flash fires directly at your face, the result is known as “flashback”... however flashback does not always happen whenever you see the word SPF and so that's why I have put this blog together to must some of those myths.


SPF & Bridal MakeUp:

I have been doing wedding makeup for years and its one of the parts of my job that I love the most. I would also hear day in and day out how ‘you shouldn't wear SPF on your wedding day’. Firstly SPF is very important to wear daily regardless if you're in sunny spain or rainy Ireland and you shouldn't feel like you absolutely can not wear it on your big day because the reasoning is silly. Yes SPF is known to make you look paler but the truth is not all SPFs do and certain blends of it are worse than others and this is the reason I am putting this blog together to bust some of the myths!! 

Its also important to note that flash is only used by some photographers in certain situations or at the end of the night on your pal’s iPhone.

It does not mean that every photograph you take will be a direct flash as photographers and self obsessed selfie-takers will be searching for natural light as much as possible I am guessing…if this is the case flash is not involved.

If you're having your wedding inside all day chances are no SPF will need to be involved and so you can wear whatever base you would like. If you're going to be part outside and part inside and are worried about how you might photograph inside not all products with SPF flashback particularly not ones that have the correct blend and then sometimes the ones that have the least amount of SPF in them flash back the worst which leads me to believe that there is some sort of imbalance between talc or silica or SPF all in one. So here are some tips for busting that flashback...

 So where does SPF come into it?

You can wear it on its own as a layer, built into your primer, moisturiser or foundation it really depends on the products you use. I personally love a good double up product so would use a base that acts as a primer, SPF 30 and moisturiser all in one.

Regardless of whether SPF is reacting or not a flash is known to be more harsh than day light which you'll see in my pictures below.

When we were building our Second Skin we wanted to have a mineral makeup SPF50 foundation and we knew we could do this and not have any flashback because its all down to the mix of ingredients inside with talc thats in some foundations etc!

This is me wearing Medium Plus with an iPhone flash directly in front of me and nothing changes, i.e No Flashback!


I have tried numerous foundations over my career and creating Second Skin was the ultimate winner for me to have a buildable coverage, look like skin but protect as you go.

But lets take a look at other brands and see how they wear.

First up is NARS Longwear Radiant. This doesn't contain SPF fyi.

Check out this Natural Light vs Flash Light pic here;

Natural Light will always be more flattering on however the flash shows the effect of that light but you can see its not making me grey or ashy and its not reacting to anything inside the foundation.

MAC Studio Fix is another popular bridal foundation that brides would assume they cannot wear given it contains SPF15. So yes it does have a slight flashback and has a lot of talc so its good for a one day use but I wouldn't over do it a it can dry the skin out. Even though it has SPF15 I don't find the flashback that bad at all. It's subtle and sometimes it can be flattering to have a very very slightly lighter face.


Estee Lauder Double Wear, this foundation is heavy on but it lasts. You may think it only contains an SPF10 so its fine but whatever blend of SPF it has combined with the high powder content makes it is notorious for a harsh flashback to the point that I would avoid using it in certain instances.  

See my natural vs flash light wearing this here. As you can see the flashback causes a much stronger greyish tinge to the face and in certain situations (the darker the room, the whiter it could be).


Don't put all the emphasis on foundations with SPF however...

A lot of us focus so much on what foundations have SPF in them and what not to wear when sometimes it can be other factors such as your powders and concealers that contribute to flashback more so.

Powders containing silica for example are killers for flashback..something like the MakeUp ForeverHD is a big culprit when applied incorrectly. Its not the powders fault as it is deigned for tv its more about how much of it people actually apply. Im sure we have all seen those scary images of celebs with the red carpet faux pas such as below; 

Another big factor that can make flashback more obvious is wearing a shockingly bright under eye concealer. Yes going a shade or two lighter than your foundation is nice but too much of a difference will only causes issues with flash. So avoid using one so bright and again packing on a silica filled powder as I have done here:

FYI Laura Mercier translucent powder doesn't contain silica but it is full of talc, either does the Charlotte Tilbury Genius Powder although that doesn't smell great at all!

In Summary:

  • It wont affect you if you photographer doesn't use a lot of flash particularly if its not direct!
  • Not all products that contain SPF cause flashback so don't avoid using everything with an SPF in it when you should be wearing it! 
  • Our Second Skin has an SPF50 in it but it wont flashback. Our Beauty Base has SPF30 in it and also won't flashback.
  • It is stronger the more fake tan you wear ie the darker the colour and the more you depart from your natural shade of course the flashback will be more severe.
  • Flashback is worse with the more matte, talc containing foundations.
  • There are ways to bring SPF into your makeup just selecting the right ones.
  • Don’t focus all of your attention on the base or foundation as sometimes the problem can lie with the powder/concealer on top too!

I have also done a blog on my thoughts on the Top 5 Common Bridal Foundations used if you fancy checking it out just click here! 

Lots of love, 

Aimee xx