When to Apply Sunscreen? Before or After Moisturizer?

    Sun cream or sunscreen is vital in safeguarding your skin from the damaging impacts of the sun.
    However, to see accurate results, it is crucial to grasp the correct timing of when to apply sunscreen. However, depending on your individual preferences, there may be exceptions to the rule.
    So, keep reading to find out the ideal order of applying sunscreen before moisturizer or after, helping you make informed decisions for your daily skincare routine.

    The Role of Moisturizer

    Moisturizers are a powerful skincare product that is vital in maintaining skin health. It acts as a shield against any environmental stressors. That helps in maintaining a youthful glow for a long time. Additionally, this humble skin care product brings in other benefits too, which include:
    ● Helps in locking the skin’s moisture
    ● It prevents dehydration and restores the skin’s natural balance
    ● Acts as a protective barrier against weather conditions, pollution and air conditioning
    ● Reduces dryness of skin, sensitivity and irritation.
    ● The presence of peptides and hyaluronic acid decreases the appearance of fine lines and
    ● Stimulates collagen synthesis and improves skin elasticity.
    ● It aids in improving the appearance of makeup, ensuring it will last longer.
    Apart from these, moisturizers are essential in protecting and nourishing the skin. Thus, implementing a quality moisturizer that matches your skin’s needs will help maintain a healthy and glowing complexion.

    Understanding Sunscreen

    Sunscreen is yet another unsung skincare product. It protects the skin against the harmful effects of the sun’s rays. It works as a barrier on the skin from damaging UV radiation. Applying sunscreen helps to prevent sunburn, reduces the risk of skin cancer and works against premature aging and wrinkles. That makes it a trusted companion and safeguards your skin’s health, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors without worrying about sunburn.

    Applying Sunscreen Before Moisturizer

    Although we know both sunscreen and moisturizers are useful, they can sometimes be confusing, especially their application. For optimal protection and skincare, it is necessary to understand the proper order.
    It is noted that if you use chemical sunscreen, it must be applied first. The benefit of applying chemical sunscreen before moisturizer is that it penetrates deep inside the skin to provide protection. Here is an ideal order of application:

    ● Begin with cleansing your skin with a cleanser. It helps remove any dirt, impurities or excess oil from your skin.
    ● Apply sunscreen immediately after cleansing, evenly over the face and exposed body areas.
    ● Leave the sunscreen for a few minutes. Let it absorb into the skin, creating a protective barrier on the skin’s surface.
    ● Once the sunscreen gets absorbed, proceed with the application of moisturizer.
    ● Massage it into the skin. Recommended to use it in upward motions. It helps in locking the moisturizer on the skin and provides additional hydration to the skin.
    However, there are certain conditions where you must apply moisturizer before sunscreen.

    Continue to read the same in the coming section.

    Applying Sunscreen After Moisturizer

    Can sunscreen be applied after moisturizer? Well, the answer is yes. If you are using a physical
    sunscreen, for example, mineral sunscreen, it is best to apply it after moisturizing.
    Physical sunscreen includes mineral ingredients. These do not penetrate the skin. The procedure is similar to the above with little changes.
    ● Cleanse your skin well to remove any debris or excess oil.
    ● Apply moisturizer evenly on your skin and face.
    ● Let it absorb well, and then apply the sunscreen.
    ● Spread it evenly.

    Instances when applying sunscreen after moisturizer are:
    ● Individuals who have sensitive or reactive skin. Applying sunscreen after moisturizer helps in reducing irritation from the ingredients.
    ● If moisturizer contains a broad spectrum of SPF and provides adequate sun protection, it is best to apply it before sunscreen.
    ● Applying sunscreen over moisturizer will ensure more coverage if you use a heavy moisturizer, creating a thick layer on the skin.

    The Verdict: Before or After?

    While there are scenarios where you can apply sunscreen before moisturizer, it is also good to apply moisturizer before sunscreen. Thus, based on deep study, applying sunscreen before moisturizer is good if you use a chemical sunscreen that provides better protection against UV rays. On the other hand, if your moisturizer is rich in SPF or has sensitive skin, using sunscreen after its application is best recommended.
    Therefore, it is generally recommended to check the ingredients and percentage of SPF and know the skin type before you decide on its application.

    Additional Tips for Sun Protection

    Apart from the above-mentioned power of sunscreen and moisturizer to maintain skin health,
    here are a few more tips to protect skin from the sun:
    ● Use a lip balm with SPF if your lips can suffer from sun damage.
    ● Opt for sunglasses that will protect your eyes from damaging UV rays. It helps block
    UVA and UVB rays that impact the delicate skin around them.
    ● Cover up your exposed areas of skin with clothing. Opt for lightweight and tightly woven
    fabrics that cover your legs, arms and neck.
    ● Reduce prolonged exposure to sun rays to decrease the risk of sunburn and skin damage.
    ● Reapply sunscreen regularly every two hours after activities like sweating, swimming or
    towel drying.
    ● Drink more water to prevent dehydration as well as maintain a healthy skin.


    For optimal sun protection and skincare benefits, it is generally recommended to apply sunscreen before moisturizer. It allows the sunscreen to form a protective barrier against harmful UV rays, while moisturizer can still provide hydration and nourishment to the skin. The key is to find a routine that works best for you while ensuring that sunscreen and moisturizer play crucial roles in keeping your skin healthy and protected.

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    Medically reviewed by Tina Joy, Pharmacist, Care n Cure Pharmacy