Do You Apply Sunscreen Before or After Moisturizer?

Do You Apply Sunscreen Before or After Moisturizer?

Hopefully, you follow a consistent routine to maintain your skin’s vitality, but are you layering your skincare products properly? Many people aren’t aware that the order of steps makes a difference when it comes to achieving the results that you’re after.

To best protect and preserve skin, do you apply sunscreen before or after moisturizer? Today’s post dives deep into the correct answer, with additional tips on how to optimize your twice-daily regimen for a radiant complexion.

What goes first, sunscreen or moisturizer?

Should you put on sunscreen or moisturizer first? In all honesty, it depends on several factors. We know, not the easy answer you were looking for—that’s because the answer isn’t exactly cut and dry—so let us elaborate.

Mainly, dermatologists are torn about whether you should apply sunscreen before or after moisturizer because of how moisturizer(or any other skincare product for that matter) can interfere with the effectiveness of your sun protectant. The concern is that when moisturizer is applied under sunscreen, it can create a barrier that prevents the sunscreen from penetrating the skin. However, when moisturizer is placed over sunscreen, it can interfere with how the sunscreen interacts with the sun. 


So, do you apply sunscreen before or after moisturizer? If you’re using a chemical sunscreen, it needs to be applied first. This is because chemical sunscreen needs to penetrate the skin in order to provide protection. 

However, if you’re using a physical sunscreen (also known as mineral sunscreen), sunscreen should be applied after moisturizer. We’ll go more in depth into how chemical and physical sunscreen work shortly. 

Keep in mind that putting sunscreen on before or after moisturizer is better than not putting it on at all. You never want to leave the house without sunscreen at least SPF 30 or higher.

What’s the difference between chemical vs physical sunscreen?

There are several key differences between chemical and physical sunscreen—from their composition and safety, to how they work.

Chemical sunscreens, as the name suggests, are made with a variety of chemical active ingredients, which can be irritating for sensitive skin. And if that’s not already alarming enough, chemical sunscreen works by penetrating the skin and absorbing UV radiation. This means that those chemical ingredients are making their way into your body. 


On the other hand physical sunscreen is made with mineral ingredients, which sit on top of the skin. This means that the sunscreen and it’s ingredients never penetrate the skin. Instead, mineral sunscreen creates a barrier between the skin and harmful UV rays, which are reflected away. For these reasons, mineral sunscreen is considered safer. 


Colorescience mineral sunscreen is made with natural active ingredients such as Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. Our safe sunscreen is available in a variety of application methods for convenient use. Try our Sunforgettable® Total Protection™ Brush-On Shield SPF 50 or Sunforgettable® Total Protection™ Sport Stick SPF 50 for easy application on the go.

Can I mix sunscreen with moisturizer?

Generally speaking, no you shouldn’t. If you’re using two separate products, it isn’t recommended that you mix them together to create your own hydrating and protective combination. 

That said, there are products that are specifically formulated to combine these two components. When using these products, yes it’s okay to mix sunscreen and moisturizer. For example, our Sunforgettable® Total Protection™ Face Shield SPF 50 can be safely layered or mixed with your moisturizer.

However, as a general rule of thumb it is better to layer your sunscreen and moisturizer separately.

Is it necessary to apply moisturizer before sunscreen?

You don’t have to put on moisturizer before sunscreen, however, you really should if you care about the over health of your skin and keeping signs of aging at bay. 

If you are going to use both moisturizer and sunscreen in your skincare routine, putting it on before your mineral sunscreen is best. Ultimately, putting on sunscreen before or after moisturizer is your choice, but applying sunscreen after will help ensure that it provides the most protection. 


Don’t forget to reapply every two hours (or every 80 minutes if you’ve been swimming or sweating). To ensure that you’re always receiving the most protection from your sunblock, make sure it’s still good if you’ve had it for a while. You might be thinking “does sunscreen expire?”. Yes, it does. Sunscreen should be considered expired after three years, so make sure you replace it when necessary.

Why do I need both moisturizer and sunscreen in my skincare routine?

Having both moisturizer and sunscreen in your skincare routine is important because they both serve different purposes. That’s like asking if you need to use a cleanser and eye cream. 

While some sunscreens do have hydrating properties, they usually aren’t considered a substitute for a moisturizer, especially in the dryer months. Same goes for moisturizer with SPF. It usually isn’t considered an adequate substitute because it either doesn’t have the ideal amount of SPF or it isn’t applied as thoroughly as it should be. This is especially true for sensitive areas that are prone to aging like the under eyes.  

How long should I wait to apply sunscreen after moisturizer?

There’s no exact science on how long you need to wait between applying sunscreen and moisturizer. However, giving your moisturizer a minute to absorb into the skin and dry can’t hurt. That way, you don’t wipe away all of the product you just applied—after all skincare isn’t cheap. 

After about a minute or so, gently apply your mineral sunscreen of choice. Application may vary depending on the type of sunscreen you’re using. For instance, our Sport Stick glides on, while our Brush-On Shield should be applied in circulation motions. 

Do I need to apply sunscreen if I wear makeup?

Yes, you still need to wear sunscreen even if you’re wearing makeup. Wearing sunscreen with makeup is recommended because most makeup products—yes, even those that advertise SPF— do not contain a high enough level of SPF to provide sufficient protection. 


Our paraben-free sunscreens provide invisible yet strong protection, so you can wear them over your makeup or on a bare face. 

Can I wear makeup over sunscreen?

Like your moisturizer, you should apply your mineral sunscreen over your makeup. Plus, you’ll need to reapply every two hours when you go out in the sun, so it’s inevitable that you’ll have to put sunscreen on over your makeup eventually.

Sunforgettable® Total Protection™ Sheer Matte SPF 30 Sunscreen Brush works great over makeup. The mineral powder can be gently applied with a brush without messing up your makeup and has a sheer finish, so you won’t even be able to tell it’s on. There’s also our Sunforgettable® Total Protection™ Brush-On Shield SPF 50, which can be worn alone or over makeup and has a slight tint and is available in four shades. 

When do you apply sunscreen in a skincare routine?

So, now that we’ve answered whether you apply sunscreen before or after moisturizer (reminder, you should put it on after), you’re probably wondering where sunscreen fits into your overall skincare routine. As we mentioned earlier, it’s important when using mineral sunscreen that you apply all other products first, so it can be your outer layer of protection against the sun.

When it comes to breaking down your skincare routine, that means that cleanser, toner, serums, moisturizer, and eye cream should all go on before sunscreen. 

Takeaways for wearing sunscreen with moisturizer

Wearing both sunscreen and moisturizer is vital to keeping  your skin healthy and  youthful-looking. When pairing these two skincare essentials here are a few key takeaways to keep in mind:

  • Apply mineral sunscreen after moisturizer (if you’re going to wear chemical sunscreen, make sure to put sunscreen on before moisturizer)
  • In general, you want to use separate sunscreen and moisturizing products 
  • Wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher over your moisturizer for adequate sun protection
  • You only need to wait a minute or so between applying moisturizer and sunscreen
  • Even if your makeup has SPF, you should still wear sunscreen 
  • You should always wear sunscreen over your makeup
  • Sunscreen will provide you will fuller coverage and protection
  • Sunscreen should round out the end of your daily skincare routine
  • You should wear sunscreen every day (and reapply every two hours when you’re outside)

By following these skincare recommendations and using a safe, mineral sunscreen, you’re providing the protection your skin needs to withstand all that fun in the sun. Trust us, the commitment is worth it—you’ll see the payoff on those efforts when you look at your radiant complexion in the mirror.

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