Sunscreen Before or After Moisturizer? – Which goes on first moisturizer or sunscreen?

Published Categorized as Beauty Tips

No matter what time of year, the sun’s harmful UV rays shine down on us and can cause severe problems if left unchecked. Without using sunscreen, you’re opening yourself up to rapid skin aging and potential skin cancer. But does wearing sunscreen mean you can’t moisturize too? Moisturizing is as important as protecting your skin from the sun. Keeping your skin hydrated is just as vital as keeping your body hydrated. So, when in your beauty routine should you incorporate both sun protection and hydration? Should you apply your sunscreen under or over your moisturizer?

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You can find your answer to this here. Let’s see what the proper method of applying both moisturizer and sunscreen is.

Table of Contents

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Does using sunscreen and moisturizer at the same time affect how they perform on your skin?

Using both as part of your daily routine is vital, but there is a definite argument as to the order of application. In truth, it may all boil down to the type of sunscreen you’re using.

The first type of sunscreen is a chemical sunscreen, which is a formula that absorbs into your skin. That protective layer is used to absorb UV rays turning them into heat.

This type of sunscreen tends to be waterproof and doesn’t leave a thick layer of film on your skin.

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The second type of sunscreen, physical or mineral, reacts very differently. This type of sunscreen reflects the sun’s rays by forming a barrier or film on your skin. This is a good choice for sensitive skin and offers a bit more moisturizing ability than the chemical version.

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So, as you can see, the difference between the two can lead to a few minor alterations to your daily moisturizing and sunscreen routines.

Let’s start with the ramifications of using SPF before your moisturizer

Is there any change in the efficiency or formula when done this way?

The truth is sunscreen will really have no effect on the efficiency of your moisturizer.

The reverse cannot be said. When applying your moisturizer after your sunscreen, the chemicals in the sunscreen can keep your moisturizer from doing its job.

Depending on the moisturizer you may find that the way that your sunscreen is supposed to work may be dramatically changed.

The addition of sunscreen before moisturizing can also cause issues with breakouts.

(If you’re looking for a list of best sunscreens for acne-prone skin, check out this post.)

Can you mix sunscreen with moisturizer?

Would this solve the problem?

The answer is no because once again, the moisturizer may change how your skin and the UV rays interact, and that could lessen the effectiveness of the sunscreen.

On the other hand, there are a few moisturizers that have SPF in them. These can be used but will not protect you as well as a product specifically designed to.

Moisturizers with SPF

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Should You Use Moisturizer First or Sunscreen First?

Now that we have an idea of how the two interact, let’s talk about the actual order of application a little more in-depth.

Your sunscreen can come in two varieties.

  • You have chemical sunscreens that will need to be applied directly to the skin with no other barriers for it to work fully.
  • You have mineral / physical sunscreens that don’t have this issue, and therefore can be applied at any time during your daily routine.

In the end, most experts suggest applying your sunscreen first to get the maximized efficiency and protection it has to offer.

If however, you have dry skin (if you do make sure to check out this post on moisturizers with dry skin) you may want to moisturize first. If this describes you, then you will want to moisturize and then wait 20-30 minutes before applying your sunscreen.

This will allow time for your moisturizer to be fully absorbed and will offer no barrier of entry to your sunscreen.

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The Dermatologists Weigh In

Just like with everything, there are different opinions expressed by different dermatologists.

The one thing they all tend to agree on is the importance of both sunscreen and moisturizer in your daily routine.

Though these dermatologists may have different opinions, they also agree that it depends on the ingredients of the product you are using as to which one goes first.

Laying down a good foundation of a chemical sunscreen before moisturizing may seem like it would keep your moisturizer from working, but with some sunscreens, they need the skin contact to work.

So, what do you do?

It seems that the most common answer from dermatologists is to apply sunscreen first and then moisturize.

The fact is, there is no right answer. The problem becomes more complicated with the addition of those moisturizing sunscreens and creams like the ones we talked about above.

Check out our recommendations for great face creams for the summer.


No matter what method you decide, as we said, all experts agree you need both sunscreen and moisturizer in your life.

Though we were not able to give you a definitive answer to the question of sunscreen under or over moisturizer, we hope that you have a clearer understanding of your options.

In truth, the order may not matter if you are using mineral sunscreen, as it can be applied at any point in the routine. But with chemical sunscreen, it is essential for skin contact.

So, the best way to sum up the answer to the question is to read the ingredients, know your skin, and then do what feels and works best for you.

Just remember sunscreen is a necessity if you want to keep looking young and healthy.

Check out more sunscreen posts on our blog!

Do you apply your sunscreen under or over moisturizer? Let us know!

By Ellis James

We design luxuriously glamorous bags, organizers and life essentials for you. At Ellis James Designs, it’s all about YOU. Your bag, Your way. Our exclusive designs are timeless, indulgent and most importantly inspired by you. What will be your first Ellis James Design?


  1. This is a brilliant reminder and a very well-timed one too, as Im heading to Greece tomorrow and will need to make sure to take care of my skin! 🙂 x

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