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When to Apply Sunscreen Before or After Moisturizer? Know The Truth

When to Apply Sunscreen Before or After Moisturizer

It’s a fact that every skincare routine should incorporate both sunscreen and moisturizer, but determining the correct sequence for their application can be perplexing. Should sunscreen be applied before or after moisturizer?

This controversy has sparked numerous discussions among professionals and beauty enthusiasts. Some argue that moisturizer should be applied as a foundation to enhance absorption, while others maintain that using sunscreen as the final step provides the highest level of protection.

In this article, we will guide you through key considerations regarding the application of sunscreen in relation to moisturizer. So, let’s delve right into it, shall we?

Why I need both Sunscreen and Moisturizer for My Skin?  

While many people prefer to only think about using sunscreen to protect themselves from the sun’s damaging rays, it’s equally crucial to take into account the advantages of moisturizer in your skincare routine. Sunscreen protects against ultraviolet (UV) radiation, lowering the risk of skin cancer and preventing sunburn. Due to its components and extended exposure to sunshine, it does have a tendency to dry out the skin. Moisturizer helps restore lost moisture and keeps your skin hydrated in this situation. 

Moisturizers have a number of additional benefits in addition to hydrating your skin more than sunscreen does. By forming a barrier of defense on the skin, they stop toxins and other environmental irritants from penetrating deeply into its layers. Additionally, some moisturizers have antioxidants that work to fight free radicals and lessen the effects of sun damage on aging. Additionally, by include both sunscreen and moisturizer in your skincare regimen, you may concurrently treat many issues since sunscreen protects your skin from UV radiation while moisturizer hydrates and nourishes it.

Finally, it’s essential to use a moisturizer and sunscreen together to preserve skin that looks healthy. While sunscreen protects you from UV rays, it can also dry out your skin over time if it isn’t properly hydrated, which is what a high-quality moisturizer can offer. Consequently, spending money on these two crucial products will not only shield you from harm but also enhance the overall health and beauty of your skin for many years.

Should You Apply Sunscreen or Moisturizer First?

The answer to the question is very simple. Talking about the sost experts who suggest that users should apply sunscreen after moisturizer. You might be wondering why? But, there is a definite reason. This is just because moisturizer makes a room to hydrate the skin and create a smooth surface for the sunscreen to stick to. 

On the flip side of the coin, if you apply sunscreen before moisturizer, the moisturizer might hinder the sunscreen from absorbing into the skin properly, decreasing its effectiveness.

However, you may find an exception to this normal rule. If you are using mineral sunscreen aka physical sunscreen, you can easily apply it before using moisturizer. The reason why physical sunscreens do not need to be absorbed into the skin to work. 

Let’s have the order of how to apply your skincare products in the morning. 

  • Cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser.
  • Apply a toner to help balance the skin’s pH level.
  • Apply a serum or other targeted treatments.
  • Apply moisturizer.
  • Apply sunscreen.

Please note that you should reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or more if you tend to sweat or swim. 

Some Additional Tips for Applying Sunscreen

  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, including your face, ears, neck, lips, and the tops of your feet.
  • Be sure to reapply sunscreen even on cloudy days.
  • Let sunscreen dry completely before applying makeup.

How Long Should You Wait to Apply Sunscreen after Moisturizer? 

Many of us are well aware of how crucial sunscreen application is when it comes to shielding our skin from the sun’s damaging rays. What about moisturizer, though? Should we wait a certain length of time after moisturizing our skin before applying sunscreen? The solution is more complicated than you may imagine.

After applying moisturizer, some experts advise waiting anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes before applying sunscreen. The justification for this is because moisturizers have the potential to act as a barrier on the skin, making it more difficult for sunscreen to enter and be effective. Other experts, however, contend that as long as your sunscreen has a suitable SPF rating, there is absolutely no need to wait.

Applying sunscreen after moisturizer ultimately comes down to personal preference and skincare regimen. Waiting a few minutes between moisturizing and using sunscreen may give you peace of mind if you like to layer various products on your skin and have some additional time in the morning. On the other hand, using a combination product that contains both a moisturizer and an SPF can help you save time without sacrificing protection if you value efficiency and convenience in your skincare routine.

Finally, while some contend that waiting between using a moisturizer and a sunscreen will increase their efficacy, others disagree. In the end, one’s skincare regimen ultimately comes down to personal preference and practicality.

Difference Between Moisturizer and Sunscreen

It’s no doubt that moisturizer and sunscreen are both vital parts of a skincare routine, however, they differ from each other while talking about the purposes and functions. Here is the rundown. 


  • Purpose: Hydrating and nourishing the skin is the core purpose of the best quality moisturizer. In fact, this skincare item helps balance the moisture of skin. Moreover, it prevents dryness and maintains a smooth, supple complexion.
  • Ingredients: To keep moisture in, they frequently include occlusives (such as petrolatum), emollients (such as oils or shea butter), and humectants (such as hyaluronic acid).
  • Benefits: Skin texture is improved, flakiness is decreased, and a barrier against environmental elements that cause moisture loss can be created with moisturizers. 


  • Purpose: The purpose of sunscreen is to shield the skin from the damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. They lessen the risk of skin cancer, premature aging, and sunburn.
  • Ingredients: In physical/mineral sunscreens like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide or chemical sunscreens like avobenzone and octisalate, UV-filtering components are present.
  • Benefits: Sunscreens safeguard the skin from sun damage, such as sunburn, dark spots, fine wrinkles, and skin cancer, by blocking UVB and UVA radiation.

Key Differences:

  • Function: While sunscreens are meant to protect against the sun’s rays, moisturizers are primarily concerned with moisturizing and nourishing the skin.
  • Ingredients: While sunscreens contain UV-blocking chemicals, moisturizers contain substances that help the skin’s barrier function by retaining moisture.
  • Application: Typically, moisturizers are applied to the skin to keep it hydrated and can be used both during the day and at night, whereas sunscreen is only worn during the day to protect against UV rays..
  • Usage: No matter the weather, moisturizers are appropriate for daily usage. When outdoors, especially in sunny weather, sunscreen is highly important.
  • Order of Application: It’s normally advised to use moisturizer before sunscreen in a skincare routine. Moisturizer keeps your skin hydrated underneath and helps make a smooth base for sunscreen.

Can You Combine Sunscreen and Moisturizer?

Those looking to simplify their skincare routine frequently combine sunscreen and moisturizer. Although it could seem practical, it’s crucial to take this hybrid product’s efficacy into account. Since sunscreen and moisturizer have different functions and formulations, using them together may reduce their effectiveness when used separately.

First and foremost, sunscreen forms a shield on the surface of our skin to shield it from damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. Conversely, moisturizers work to replenish the natural moisture balance of our skin while hydrating and nourishing it. Combining these two products runs the risk of reducing the sunscreen’s SPF (sun protection factor) due to the additional chemicals required in the moisturizing recipe.

Furthermore, using a sufficient amount of sunscreen to provide the best possible protection from the sun necessitates following specific instructions that may differ from how we usually apply moisturizer. Generally speaking, you should apply roughly a quarter teaspoon of sunscreen to your face alone in order to receive full protection. When using a combination product, it might be challenging to apply the product liberally since you could be less likely to use enough or make sure it is distributed evenly throughout all exposed regions.

In theory, combining sunscreen and moisturizer makes sense, but it’s important to avoid compromising effectiveness for convenience. Instead, think about using separate products; apply a generous amount of broad-spectrum sunscreen on top of your go-to skin moisturizer after letting it sink completely.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Does it matter what type of sunscreen I use?

    It does matter, yes. Chemical sunscreens should be applied before moisturizer since they need to be absorbed into the skin to function. Physical sunscreens can be used after moisturizer because they sit on top of the skin and deflect UV radiation.

  2. What if I’m using a moisturizer with SPF?

    You can apply a moisturizer with SPF either before or after applying sunscreen. It’s crucial to remember that the SPF in moisturizers is typically lower than the SPF in sunscreen. It is therefore preferable to use sunscreen separately if you want to spend a lot of time in the sun.

  3. Should I apply sunscreen before or after makeup?

    Always put on sunscreen before using makeup. This is due to the fact that cosmetics cannot offer sufficient sun protection. It could be challenging to reapply sunscreen during the day if you cover sunscreen with makeup.

Final Thoughts 

The efficiency of moisturizer and sunscreen may differ depending on the order in which you apply them. Although there is no one solution that works for everyone, experts typically advise using sunscreen after moisturizer. This enables the moisturizer to completely penetrate the skin and form a barrier that improves the adhesion of the sunscreen. 
Furthermore, putting sunscreen on last guarantees that it stays on the skin’s surface and offers sufficient protection from UV rays. For the best sun protection, select a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater and reapply every two hours.

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