When to apply sunscreen, before or after moisturizer?

When to apply sunscreen, before or after moisturizer?

Sunscreens and moisturizers have become integral to the skincare routine for both men and women. It is because we spend a lot of time under the sun, especially while going out for work or even enjoying the sun on the beach. But many users can’t decide which one of these needs to be applied first for the desired results. Before we give our verdict, you should know about these two skincare products, their types, and how they work. Let’s begin: 

What is sunscreen?

Sunscreen, popularly called sun cream, is commonly used by people nowadays. Its primary function is to protect skin from harmful ultraviolet sun rays that cause our skin to look tanned and older than its actual age. Sunscreen protects skin from sunburn.  

Types of sunscreens:

The composition of each sunscreen differs from the other depending on the way they protect you from the sun. But you can categorize most sunscreens as either chemical or physical. 

Chemical sunscreens are water resistant as they can soak in sunlight and convert that into heat energy so that your skin dissipates it quickly. So, this sunscreen is best to apply when swimming or you sweat a lot during any other activity. Its ingredients include azobenzene, oxybenzone, etc.
Physical sunscreen deflects harmful sun radiation and feels slightly heavy on the skin due to zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. But mineral sunscreens sit on the skin’s surface, making them less irritating and ideal for those with sensitive skin.

What is a moisturizer? 

Moisturizer is an emollient that works to protect and soften skin. Healthy skin produces sebum, an oily and waxy substance, to lubricate skin and make it look fresh. The moisturizer also reduces the chances of skin going extremely dry. 

Types of moisturizers:

There are three main types of moisturizers:

  1. Emollients - These contain oil and fatty acids as the main ingredients. This moisturizer helps reduce fine lines, treats eczema, and is usually good as an anti-ageing emollient. 

  2. Humectants - These have ingredients such as glycerin, AHA, and lactic acid. They moisturize the skin by drawing air from the air.

  3. Occlusives - Such a moisturizer contains beeswax, silicons, petroleum jelly, etc. These are good for parenting moisture loss from the skin. 

While sunscreen, fairness crème, powder, and moisturizer are commonly used as skincare and face care products, many people face the dilemma of which one to apply first. 

So, should you apply fairness cream, powder, or moisturizer before or after sunscreen? 

Here is how to proceed :

Sunscreen first, fairness cream later! 

Fairness cream has ingredients that work on the skin to brighten up its complexion by reducing pigmentation and dark spots. But most women go out in the sun just to walk around or enjoy a beach. At that time, they need to apply sunscreen to protect the skin from harmful UV rays that can even cause tanning due to prolonged sun exposure. 

But avoid mixing your fairness cream and sunscreen and applying it as one lotion. That will dilute the effects of both the products. So, the question is can we apply sunscreen after fairness cream? You should follow the correct procedure. 

When using a chemical sunscreen, apply it first on the face before a fairness cream. That is because sunscreen with chemical ingredients should first penetrate your skin to protect it from the harsh sun rays. Then, you can apply fairness crème.   

However, if you use physical sunscreen, also commonly referred to as mineral sunscreen, use it after applying any fairness crème on the face. This is because it works to reflect sun rays. 

Powder first, sunscreen later!

Facial powders are part of your makeup and skincare routine. A woman uses some kind of powder to give a shine to her face. These days, however, facial powders come loaded with several healthy ingredients for the skin. So, their use is no more just cosmetic to women. 

But many women are in two minds when applying one of these products first on the ace. The question is can we apply powder after sunscreen? 

If you use a physical screen, it contains zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and other mineral ingredients to protect against UVA and UVB harmful sun rays. These sunscreens reflect sunrays away rather than being absorbed into the skin. 

Since such a  face sunscreen has the properties to deflect harmful sun rays, you can wear it first. Then, you can use powder, foundation, or makeup on your face. But ensure that you do not dilute the sunscreen while following this procedure. Therefore, you should wait for a few minutes so that your sunscreen sets nicely on the skin, and then apply powder or makeup.

If you use a powder having SPF properties, check if it has all the required ingredients to protect it from sun rays. Such powder is usually not the best way to get protection from UV rays. Still, you can use the powder for touchup purposes all day. That will help you get added protection under the harsh sun without ruining your makeup.

Moisturizer first, sunscreen later!  

The moisturizer keeps your skin hydrated, which is essential for its firm and fresh look. Your fine lines and dark spots may gradually fade away with the regular moisturizing of your facial skin. The sunscreen protects the skin in its way by reflecting sun rays away from the skin. But when applying them to the face, you should decide which one to apply first. Many women struggle to determine when to apply sunscreen before or after moisturizer.

Experts say that if you use sunscreen first and moisturizer later, it may change how your sunscreen works to protect you from the sun. It may alter the properties of the sunscreen you use. This is because whatever you apply on top, can reduce the sunscreen’s efficacy and dilute its properties. 
Applying sunscreen is usually the last step to take as part of your skincare measures. So, applying moisturizer first and then putting a layer of sunscreen will keep harmful UV sunrays away from your skin.

Your skin can absorb chemical sunscreen ingredients if you apply them first. Therefore, most experts advise applying such a sunscreen on your skin first. This will also protect the skin from sun rays more effectively. If you apply moisturizer first and sunscreen later, the moisture may prevent the sunscreen from protecting your skin. 

When using a physical sunscreen, ensure that you use it only after applying moisturizer. These sunscreens function as protective barriers by reflecting the sun rays from the skin. So, apply sunscreen as the topmost layer after applying moisturizer or any other skincare product. 

Pro Tip: Keep a reasonable time gap

How long should you be waiting between applying the two skincare products? Experts say it would be wise to maintain a time gap of 15 to 20 minutes before you apply the other one. Applying them just after one another with no time in between is like using a mixed lotion, diluting both products’ properties. So, the skin can absorb the first product’s ingredients fully without the presence and interference of the other product for a while. 


How about mixing sunscreen and moisturizer? 

Well, combining sunscreen with moisturizer as one formula may seem to be an innovative idea, but the fact is that it does not work effectively. This hybrid concoction has already been tested and shown not to work as intended. If it does not work, it fails to protect you from the sun and is a risk. 


Sunscreen, moisturizer, powder, and facial creame meet a specific skin care requirement. But correctly applying these products is the key to benefiting from their properties. In most cases, apply sunscreen last to reflect harmful sun rays. But which of the two you should apply first depends on the type of these products you use. 


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Can I apply sunscreen directly on the face?

Yes, you can apply sunscreen directly on your face. That is what dermatologists recommend. In this way, your skin can reflect the sunrays and absorb some nutrients in the sunscreen.

Can I use a mixture of moisturizer and sunscreen together?

No, it is not recommended. This is because moisturizers usually have properties that might make sunscreen’s ingredients inactive. So, avoid mixing the two. 

Should I wear sunscreen every day?

You can surely wear sunscreen daily. That measure will save your skin from the wear and tear that causes some visible damage, such as fine lines and wrinkles. Sunscreen protects from harmful ultraviolet sunrays to all skin types, including dark skin. 

When should I use a moisturizer?

It would be good to apply moisturizer on your face routinely in the morning and night after washing your face. Experts suggest including a moisturizer in your daily skincare regime.  

Do I need to wash off the moisturizer?

You do not need to wash moisturizer off your face as it is lightweight, and you will not feel it. But if you feel like washing it, you probably did not apply it correctly, and you should reapply. 



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