Is It Better to Apply Sunscreen Before or After Moisturizer?

sunscreen before or after moisturizer

Skipping out on SPF could spell trouble for your skin. We’re talking about premature aging, skin damage, and even some troublesome skin conditions. 

Oh, and let’s not forget the scary possibility of skin cancer.

Your skincare routine is like a shield against these issues. And that shield absolutely needs to include sunscreen.

But here’s the twist – While we all know sun protection is essential, the real question is: When should you slap on that SPF? Should you put sunscreen before or after moisturizer? 

It might seem like a tiny detail, but trust me, it’s a big deal. 


Well, because not only does the order affect how hydrated your skin stays, it also affects the level of defense your SPF can provide.

So, hold onto your hats because today, I’ve got the answer to whether you’re supposed to apply sunscreen before or after moisturizer. And that’s not all – I’m about to spill the beans on everything you need to know about SPF. 

Let’s dive straight into the SPF world.

Should I use sunscreen before or after moisturizer?

Should I slap on sunscreen before or after moisturizer? Well, it totally depends on what you’re wearing.

Dermatologists have different views on this because moisturizers can affect how well your sunscreen does its job.

Some experts worry that putting moisturizer on before sunscreen might create a barrier that stops the sunscreen from getting into your skin. 

On the flip side, putting moisturizer over sunscreen could mess with how the sunscreen guards you against the sun. 

So, do you put sunscreen before or after moisturizer?

If you’re using chemical sunscreen, go for sunscreen first. Why? Because chemical sunscreen needs to dive into your skin to shield you.

Now, if you’re using physical sunscreen, also known as mineral sunscreen, do moisturizer first, followed by sunscreen.

But wait, what’s the difference between these two types? 

I’ve got your back on that, too. Just remember, using sunscreen before or after moisturizer is way better than skipping the sunscreen altogether. 

Always wear sunscreen with SPF 30 and higher. You need more SPF to fight the sun’s rays.

Chemical vs. Physical sunscreen

Using sunscreen before or after moisturizer depends on the type of sunscreen you have. 

So, what’s the difference between chemical and physical sunscreen? 

Let me break it down for you:

Chemical sunscreen

This one’s all about absorbing those pesky UV rays from the sun before they wreak havoc on your skin. 

Its active ingredients act like tiny sponges, soaking up those UV rays and turning them into harmless heat. 

To make sure it does its job properly, you should rub it in and give it some time (about 15 minutes) to absorb in your skin. 

That’s why slapping it on before your moisturizer is usually a good idea.

Now what about mineral sunscreen? Should I put mineral sunscreen before or after moisturizer?

Mineral sunscreen

Now, this is a different ball game. Mineral sunscreen packs ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which act like a protective shield, stopping the sun’s rays from reaching your skin and causing trouble. 

Since mineral sunscreen needs to stay on the surface to work its magic, apply it as the last step in your skincare routine – after any moisturizer you might be using.

So, chemical and mineral sunscreens work in distinct ways to keep your skin safe from the sun’s harmful rays.

This is why the order of using sunscreen before or after moisturizer matters. 

Can I mix sunscreen and moisturizer?

While blending sunscreen and moisturizer might sound like a nifty DIY trick, let me tell you, it’s NOT a wise move. 

Mixing these two essential products can mess with their effectiveness, and that’s a risk you want to avoid when it comes to sun protection.

But hold on! 

If you’re a fan of multitasking, there’s a solution on the horizon – moisturizer with SPF. 

This special moisturizer is designed to do double duty: it hydrates and shields your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. 

It’s a lifesaver for those mornings when you’re in a rush and might forget your sunscreen because it tackles two skincare steps in one go.

However, according to experts, applying your sunscreen and moisturizer separately is usually better. 

That way, you can ensure each one does its job effectively.

What about a moisturizer with SPF?

A product that can moisturize your skin while safeguarding it from the sun? Sounds like a win-win, right? 

Well, hold on a second before you grab that SPF 15 lotion. 

You’ll want to ensure it’s SPF 30 or higher and offers broad-spectrum coverage for better sun protection.

But why SPF 30 and broad spectrum? 

Let’s break it down: SPF, which stands for “sun protection factor,” tells you how long you can enjoy the sun before those UVB rays start causing trouble – think sunburns, redness, and scary stuff like skin cancer. 

Dermatologists recommend a minimum of SPF 30 because it blocks around 97 percent of those UVB rays. If you go for SPF 50, it’s bumping that up to about 98 percent.

Now, the term “broad spectrum” means that your sunscreen doesn’t just cover UVB rays. It also takes on UVA rays. 

These sneaky culprits are responsible for premature aging, wrinkles, and skin cancer risks. 

So, when you spot “SPF 30” and “broad spectrum” on the label, you’re in good hands.

How long to wait to apply sunscreen after moisturizer?

The timing between applying sunscreen and moisturizer doesn’t have to be an exact science, but a little patience goes a long way. 

Giving your moisturizer a minute to sink into your skin and dry is a good idea. 

This prevents you from accidentally wiping away the skincare goodness you just applied – and let’s face it, skincare products don’t come cheap.

So, after that minute, you’re all set to apply your chosen mineral sunscreen delicately. 

The application process may vary depending on the sunscreen you use. 

If it’s a chemical sunscreen (the one that goes before moisturizer), wait around 15 minutes. 

This allows the sunscreen to absorb before you apply your moisturizer. So, a little patience goes a long way in your skincare routine!

Do I need to wear sunscreen if there’s SPF in my makeup?

Short Answer: Absolutely.

Long Answer: Without a doubt, it’s a good idea to wear sunscreen under your makeup. 


Well, here’s the scoop: Many makeup products, even those that proudly tout SPF, often don’t contain enough sun protection to shield your skin. 

So, even if you think you’re covered, you might not get the protection you need.

Even with the rise of no-makeup makeup trends, it’s unlikely that most people apply enough makeup to reach the advertised SPF level. 

Plus, certain areas like your neck and ears might get left out when you rely solely on makeup for sun protection.

Think of any SPF in your makeup as a bonus, not your primary defense.

There is, however, an exception to this rule – tinted sunscreens. 

These aren’t makeup but rather sunscreens with a tint for subtle coverage. They can both provide sun protection and even out your skin tone. 

So, if you want that makeup look with added sun safety, tinted sunscreen is your friend.

Can I put makeup over sunscreen?

You can! Dermatologists recommend applying sunscreen before your makeup, especially for the first application of the day. 

Giving it at least two minutes to settle into your skin is a good practice. 

This helps prevent your makeup from diluting the sunscreen or interfering with its ingredients.

However, remember that you must reapply sunscreen every two hours and after activities like sweating or being in the water. 

To maintain your sun protection and your makeup look, experts suggest using a powder sunscreen, SPF setting spray, or sunscreen lotion for reapplication. 

This way, you can keep both your skin and makeup safe from the sun’s harmful rays.

How often should I reapply sunscreen?

How often you apply sunscreen before or after moisturizer depends on the season and where you are.

When the sun blazes in the spring and summer, it’s a good idea to reapply sunscreen every two hours. 

But when fall and winter roll around, and the UV exposure is lower, you might get away with just applying it once a day to exposed areas.

But remember, your location matters too. 

East Coast and West Coast folks might have different sun patterns, so always keep that in mind and adjust your sunscreen routine accordingly. Stay sun-safe!

Sunscreen tips, according to experts

Sunscreen is like your skin’s superhero, protecting it from aging and the risk of skin cancer. 

However, it won’t do its job effectively if you’re not applying it correctly. 

Here are some essential tips to ensure you’re harnessing the full power of your sunscreen to keep your skin safe:

  1. Choose Wisely: Opt for a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, water-resistant properties, and broad-spectrum coverage.
  2. Timing Matters: Always apply sunscreen before heading outside. It takes about 15-20 minutes to absorb into your skin and start working fully.
  3. SPF Isn’t a Time Machine: Higher SPF doesn’t mean you can bask in the sun longer or reapply less frequently. Stick to the reapplication schedule.
  4. Watch the Clock: Don’t hang on to the same sunscreen for too long. After a year, toss it out because expired lotion loses its protective potency.
  5. No Neglecting: Don’t forget to protect your ears, scalp, lips, and feet. These areas are prone to sunburn and potential skin cancer.
  6. Rub it In: If you use a spray sunscreen, rub it in and then apply another layer to avoid missing spots.
  7. Reapply, Reapply: Reapply sunscreen every 120 minutes, even using a water-resistant formula. This step is just as crucial as the first application.

These tips will maximize your sunscreen’s effectiveness and save your skin from the sun’s not-so-loving rays. 

My top picks for best sunscreen

I’ve put together some fantastic sunscreen recommendations that cater to every skin tone and type. Your skin deserves the best UV protection! 

Best ForProductPriceShop At
Best OverallEltaMD UV Sport Broad Spectrum SPF 50$30Amazon, Target, Walmart
Best MineralThinksport’s SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen$15.49Amazon, Thinksports, Target
Best TintedTower 28 SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen Foundation$32Amazon, Kohl’s, Sephora
Best For Oily SkinHero Cosmetics Force Shield Superlight Sunscreen$19.99Amazon, Ulta, Target
Best For Sensitive SkinBlue Lizard Sensitive Face Mineral Sunscreen$16.99Amazon, Target, Walmart
Best For Mature SkinSkinCeuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense SPF 50$42SkinCeuticals, Dermstore, Walmart
Best For Dry SkinNeutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen$9.59Amazon, Target, Walmart
Best For Acne-Prone SkinGlossier Invisible Shield SPF 35 $25Amazon, Glossier, Sephora
Best For Dark SkinCeraVe Hydrating Sheer Tint SPF 30 $13.99Amazon, Ulta, Target

Wrapping Up

So, should I apply sunscreen before or after moisturizer?

If you’re going for a chemical-based sunscreen, it’s best to apply it early in your skincare routine, so it gets properly absorbed by your skin.

On the flip side, if you’re using a mineral-based sunscreen, apply it after your moisturizer. 

Those mineral ingredients act as a protective shield on the skin’s surface against the sun.

And here’s a little pro tip: allow your sunscreen a good two minutes to sink in before you start applying your makeup. 

Trust me, those UV rays from the sun can do a number on your skin’s appearance, texture, and overall health, so it’s super important to get your sunscreen game right.

And that was all about whether you should use sunscreen before or after moisturizer.

Now, I’m curious – which sunscreen is your go-to? Share it in the comments below!


When to apply sunscreen in skincare routine?

When you’re breaking down your skincare routine, here’s the order to remember: Cleanser, toner, serums, moisturizer, and eye cream all come before your sunscreen in the lineup.

Can you put moisturizer on top of sunscreen?

Yes, you can put moisturizer on top of chemical sunscreen since it takes around 15-20 minutes to absorb completely.

Do you apply sunscreen before or after moisturizer and makeup?

For your first sunscreen application, put it on before your makeup. Your makeup can be the final step in your skincare routine. 

Just allow enough time for your skin to absorb the sunscreen and moisturizer before you start your makeup routine.

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