Do I Apply Sunscreen Before or After Moisturizer?

Let’s face it. Skincare is confusing. No matter how hard you try, it seems like you’re always doing something wrong. There’s countless products on the market that you can get pretty far into a rabbit hole trying to find the best of the best. Trust me, I get it. There are so many do’s and don’t that it’s hard to keep up. Don’t get too worked up, though. I’ve got you covered. Today, I’m going to talk about two specific products that are crucial to any skincare routine: moisturizer and sunscreen. 

While it hopefully is a known concept that you need these two products in your daily regime, it might not be known whether you are supposed to apply moisturizer or sunscreen first. That is where I come in. If this is the first time you are realizing you should be applying sunscreen on a daily basis, then we have a lot of work to do. 

Don’t worry though. We’ll get through it and come up with healthier skin on the other side. I’m going to dive into which order is correct, why that is, and some extra tips to keep your skin looking 10/10 like your natural beauty already is. 

Which Order is It? 

 The big question. Do you apply sunscreen before or after moisturizer? To answer this question properly, you need one more piece to the puzzle. There are actually two different types of sunscreen: chemical and physical. These two options are both effective, but they work completely differently. One blocks the rays and the other absorbs the rays. Regardless, your skin is protected from the sun which is the goal. 

There is a lot of debate on which order is best, but I am going to give you the general consensus. Majority rules for this one. First, let’s make it known. Sunscreen is just as crucial as moisturizer, if not more. It protects your skin from aging prematurely, sun damage, and even skin cancer when worn properly.

When you’ve determined which type your sunscreen is, you can learn whether you need to apply moisturizer before or after. You can find this on the ingredients or packaging of the sunscreen typically.  Chemical sunscreen calls for application before moisturizer to allow the formula to soak into the skin fully. On the contrary, physical sunscreen is the opposite order. You should apply it after your moisturizer for the best results. 

While this is the best order for physical sunscreen, always try to keep your moisturizer as light as possible. The heavier the moisturizer, the least likely that the sunscreen will penetrate into your skin properly and have less positive results. Regardless, you don’t want a heavy moisturizer for your daytime routine regardless. Leave that to the night time regimen. 

When it comes to chemical sunscreen, you should always wait 15 minutes before going outside to allow it to soak in to work properly. Applying it before your moisturizer will help take up some time. Finish off your morning with your makeup and voila! The 15 minutes is up, and you can head out for the day. 

There are also options that act as both a moisturizer and sunscreen. This might be the perfect fit for the lazy batch of us. Don’t let these options convince you to start mixing your sunscreen and moisturizer at home, however. Unless formulated together, there are some contradicting ingredients that can make the sunscreen ineffective if mixed with moisturizer. 

A built in SPF does have less versatility if you are prone to major skin changes with the weather. Having a separate sunscreen allows for you to alternate between certain moisturizers as you see fit. However, if your biggest concern is convenience, the two in one option is simple and quick, and there is no worry about getting things out of order. 


There you have it. Moisturizer or sunscreen first. While it’s not a complete black or white answer, I hope this cleared up your confusion and pushed you one step forward in your journey of mastering all things skincare. Remember, we’re all just learning as we go along, so there’s nothing wrong with asking questions, watching tutorials, and gathering as much information as you can on the way. Now don’t forget your sunscreen! 

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