Does Sunscreen Go Before Or After Moisturizer?

When it comes to skincare routines, one of the most common questions asked is, ‘Does sunscreen go before or after moisturizer?’ Though this seems simple, the dilemma leaves many scratching their heads, trying to get the right order for maximum effectiveness and benefits. If you are one of these, then fear not because we will give you all the details so you can solve this mystery once and for all. 

Does Sunscreen Go Before Or After Moisturizer

Does Sunscreen Go Before Or After Moisturizer? | Here’s What You Need To Know

Importance of Sunscreen

Before we get into all the details of sunscreen, moisturizers, and their order of application, let’s take a moment to appreciate and understand the importance of sunscreen and moisturizers. Consider sunscreen your skin’s best friend, not just a normal one, but the one who strives to protect and guard you. 

It shields your skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation, which are the primary cause of premature aging, sunburn, and, most importantly, skin cancer. No matter what your skin type is, protecting it from the sun should never be compromised. 

Importance of Moisturizer 

Moisturizers are also important in your skincare life to keep your skin hydrated, plump, and healthy. They contain incredible ingredients that create a barrier,  locking in moisture and keeping your skin hydrated for hours. Whether you have dry, oily, or combination skin, you should use a moisturizer that is made for your skin type to maintain a healthy and glowing complexion.

Sunscreen First Or Moisturizer?

Let’s cut to the chase and answer the debatable question – ‘does sunscreen go before or after moisturizer?’ If you were hoping for a direct answer, then maybe you gotta hold on because there’s some detailed information you need to know first for a better and well-understood answer.

best sunscreens

If you think about it, according to dermatologists, applying one product (either moisturizer or sunscreen) over the other can interfere with and decrease the effectiveness. For example, if you apply moisturizer first and then your sunscreen, it can create a barrier between your skin and the sunscreen, restricting it from getting into the skin. On the other hand, if you apply moisturizer over your sunscreen, it comes in between the sun (rays) and the sunscreen or how it interacts with the rays.

So what do you do now? Here’s the thing: one major factor that influences the order of application is the type of sunscreen you use – chemical or physical. If you are a crazy sunscreen lover, you might already know the difference between the two, but if you don’t, I’ve got you covered, buddy.

Chemical VS Physical Sunscreen

Chemical sunscreens are designed to absorb into the skin and convert UV rays into heat, which is then released from the skin. Since they are to be ‘absorbed’ into the skin, it is said to be applied before moisturizer. This allows the active ingredients present in it to penetrate the skin without having any barriers and hence works effectively.

Chemical VS Physical Sunscreen

To simplify things, here’s the order of application:

Chemical sunscreen: Cleanser – Toner – Serum – Chemical Sunscreen – Moisturizer – Makeup (if you want to)

Physical sunscreens or mineral sunscreens are formulated with ingredients that sit on top of the skin and physically block or reflect the UV rays. Now, since these physical sunscreens create a barrier on the skin’s surface, they should be applied after moisturizer. This will ensure they stay on top of the skin and provide a protective shield without being disturbed by other products.

The order of application in terms of physical or mineral sunscreen should look like this:

Physical sunscreen: Cleanser – Toner – Serum – Moisturizer – Physical Sunscreen – Makeup (if needed)

Combining Sunscreen With Moisturizer 

When discussing moisturizers and sunscreens, the thought of mixing sunscreen and moisturizer together must have crossed your mind, and we don’t blame ya! The direct answer to this question would be no; mixing sunscreen and moisturizer wouldn’t be a good idea. This is because moisturizers and sunscreen are very important for the skin as they serve their purposes. Mixing both of them together can decrease their effectiveness. Talking about sunscreen, it might not protect your skin as it should. 

However, with innovative technologies and advancements, you can find several moisturizers with SPF that moisturize your skin and protect it from UV rays. But sometimes, these SPF-infused moisturizers may not protect your skin completely or sufficiently. So ensure you don’t completely rely on these moisturizers for maximum sun protection. Try using a separate moisturizer, according to your skin type, and sunscreen with high SPF for maximum protection. 

two finger rule for sunscreen

Tips For Proper Application

Here are some tips to ensure you get the most out of your sunscreen and moisturizer.

  • Firstly, it is important to understand that applying sunscreen is a must! When stepping out during the day, remember to slather a good amount of sunscreen and then enjoy your day. Mixing moisturizer and sunscreen together and then applying it is still better than not applying sunscreen! So ensure you nourish your skin with a moisturizer and protect it with proper sunscreen.
  • Before applying any product, wait a couple of minutes before applying the next product. Give each layer time to absorb, set properly, and work magic.
  • Use an adequate amount of product. Don’t let your skin bathe in moisturizer by applying a lot; this can leave your skin feeling sticky or greasy. For sunscreen, make sure you apply a generous amount and don’t stop when your face is done; carry it all the way to your neck as well. 
  • One of the most important tasks regarding sunscreen is its reapplication. Make sure you reapply your sunscreen after a few hours, especially if you are in the sun for a long time. If you have makeup, you can use spray SPF for easy and mess-free application.

Frequently Asked Questions | Does Sunscreen Go Before Or After Moisturizer

How long to wait after moisturizer to apply sunscreen?

After you apply your moisturizer, it is recommended that you wait about a minute or so before applying sunscreen. If you are using a physical sunscreen, that should be the last step of your skincare routine, so give your moisturizer some time to absorb into the skin to create a hydrating base. Ensuring the moisturizer is completely absorbed can prevent any interference with the efficacy of the sunscreen. Also, it is important to note that you must apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you leave your house. 

Can I apply sunscreen without moisturizer?

The direct answer to this would be to skip moisturizer before sunscreen. However, this depends on your skin type and the specific needs of your skin. Not using any moisturizer before sunscreen does not cause any harm to your skin, but in the long run, for the overall health and integrity of your skin, it is always advisable to use both moisturizer and sunscreen.

Does sunscreen go before or after makeup?

Sunscreen or skin protection is supposed to be between your skincare and makeup. This means you go on with sunscreen once you are done with your skincare. After sunscreen, you apply your makeup. This ensures that your skin is properly protected from UV rays while providing a smooth base for your makeup. 

Which is more important, sunscreen or moisturizer?

Both sunscreen and moisturizer are important for the health of your skin. Moisturizers keep your skin hydrated, prevent dryness, and enhance the elasticity and radiance of the skin. Meanwhile, sunscreens are crucial for your skin as well, and they protect your skin from harmful rays that can cause premature aging, sunburns, or even skin cancer. This way, sunscreens help your skin in the long run.


If you are a skincare enthusiast, you should know sunscreen’s importance. And you’re here means you care about the steps in your daily skincare routine. The answer to ‘Does sunscreen go before or after moisturizer?’ depends on the type of sunscreen you are using. 

There is some science behind these sunscreens and their order of applications. Chemical sunscreens need to interact with the skin and absorb into it for its effective and protective action. So you know there should be no moisturizer in between. But physical sunscreens are like the last step of your skincare; they form a protective barrier on the skin and guard it from the outside. Remember, the key is to find a perfect routine that works best for your skin type with the products you use so you can benefit from its complete potential. 

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About Parker Olivia

Hey, it's Olivia! I'm the one steering the ship over at "Skinastra," and we're on this skincare adventure together. Growing up in the lively mix of New York City, I got hooked on skincare thanks to the melting pot of cultures around me. After grabbing a degree in Cosmetic Chemistry from New York University, I'm all about unraveling the secrets to that glowing beauty and making sure you're in on the discoveries too. 

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