Should You Apply Sunscreen or Moisturizer First?

In the quest for healthy, glowing skin, two skincare staples stand out: sunscreen and moisturizer. Both play pivotal roles in your daily routine, but layering them correctly can significantly impact their effectiveness. The question of whether to apply sunscreen or moisturizer first is more than just a matter of preference; it’s about maximizing protection and hydration for your skin.

Let’s dive into this topic to ensure your skincare routine is as effective as it can be.

The Importance of Sunscreen

Sunscreen is your skin’s best defense against the harmful effects of UV radiation, including premature aging, sunburns, and an increased risk of skin cancer. It acts as a shield, blocking or absorbing these harmful rays before they can damage your skin.

Given its critical role in protecting skin health, the effectiveness of sunscreen should not be compromised.

The Role of Moisturizer

Moisturizer, on the other hand, is essential for maintaining the skin’s hydration, elasticity, and barrier function. It helps to prevent dryness, flakiness, and irritation, promoting a smooth, supple complexion. Whether you have dry, oily, or combination skin, moisturizer is a must in your skincare arsenal.

Layering Sunscreen and Moisturizer: The Optimal Order

So, which should come first, sunscreen or moisturizer? The answer lies in the function and formulation of these products.

  1. Moisturizer First: Applying moisturizer first allows it to penetrate the skin and provide deep hydration. Moisturizers are designed to be absorbed into the skin, enhancing its barrier and overall health. For the best results, wait a few minutes after applying your moisturizer before moving on to the next step in your routine.
  2. This pause allows the moisturizer to be fully absorbed, setting the stage for sunscreen application.
  3. Sunscreen Second: After your skin has absorbed the moisturizer, apply sunscreen as the final step in your skincare routine before makeup. Sunscreen forms a protective layer on top of the skin, acting as a barrier against UV rays.
  4. Applying it after moisturizer ensures that its protective film is not diluted or disrupted, maintaining optimal effectiveness.

Chemical vs. Physical Sunscreens: Does It Matter?

The type of sunscreen you use—chemical or physical—can also influence how you layer it with moisturizer.

  • Chemical Sunscreens: These sunscreens absorb into the skin and then absorb UV rays, converting them into heat, and releasing them from the body. If using a chemical sunscreen, applying it after your moisturizer has fully absorbed can ensure it works effectively without interference.
  • Physical (Mineral) Sunscreens: These sunscreens sit on top of the skin and reflect UV rays. Since they act as a shield, applying them last makes sense to ensure they cover the skin evenly and effectively.

Additional Tips for Layering

  • Wait Between Layers: Giving your skin time to absorb each product maximizes its benefits. A few minutes can make a significant difference.
  • Consider the SPF in Your Moisturizer: If your moisturizer contains SPF, you might wonder if you still need sunscreen. While SPF moisturizers offer some protection, they often provide less coverage compared to dedicated sunscreens.
  • For prolonged exposure, layering sunscreen over an SPF moisturizer is recommended for comprehensive protection.


In the harmonious dance of skincare, applying moisturizer before sunscreen is the key to unlocking the full potential of both products.

This method ensures your skin is hydrated and protected without compromising the effectiveness of either product. By following this simple yet impactful guideline, you can enjoy a radiant, healthy complexion that’s well-protected against the environmental elements.

Remember, a well-thought-out skincare routine is the foundation of beautiful skin, so make sure to give your skin the care and protection it deserves, every day.

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