Sun Tanning Questions

Which Goes First: Sunscreen or Moisturiser? (Explained)

Written by: Anastasija

Posted on:

Updated on:

With all aspects of skincare routines, it’s really easy to get confused with which order you should be applying products, especially when there’s never one specific order that everyone recommends, making it hard to decide which advice to follow. Here are the answers to your questions, at last!

Do I need to wear a moisturiser with sunscreen?

If you’re wondering about what order to use your sunscreen, you may have even decided to skip out moisturiser altogether, or at least considered this option. Especially if you have oily skin – do you even need your moisturiser if you’re using a sunscreen? For many of us, there are some skincare products which aren’t worth buying, as they make no difference anyway, so what’s the point of using them?

applying facesunscreen by Anastasija thirsty for tan

On the other hand, moisturiser is an important part of your skincare routine, and something you should definitely not be skipping out, even if you have oily skin. There are many ways in which we can convince ourselves that we don’t need something but, ultimately, you shouldn’t miss out on your daily dose of moisturiser. If your desire to miss out moisturiser extends beyond wearing it with sunscreen, and you don’t like it because of how it feels on your skin, consider trying out a new formula.

While sunscreens are also a form of cream, they aren’t anywhere near as effective as moisturisers are for nourishing and hydrating your face. Moisturisers contain a very common type of ingredients known as humectants, a group which are known and used for attracting water to your skin, keeping it hydrated. Sunscreens do, in fact, often contain humectants, too, but not in the same concentrations.

Which goes first: sunscreen or moisturiser?

Now that we’ve established that you do need to be wearing both a sunscreen and a moisturiser every day, no matter your skin type or texture, the question is which way around you should be applying them. Of course, everyone is different, and so is their skin, but there are some general guidelines and ‘rules’ within skincare which do apply to the vast majority of people.

sunscreen package by Anastasija thirsty for tan

When it comes to a sunscreen versus a moisturiser, the first product you should really be using on your face is your moisturiser, and your sunscreen should come afterwards. There are some reasons for this, as you’re about to see, all to do with your skin, and it’s the best rule of thumb to recall in your morning routine.

As mentioned earlier, sunscreens contain a specific type of ingredients known as humectants, and these attract the water to your skin’s surface to make it more hydrated, and also make your skin look healthier overall. If you apply your sunscreen before your moisturiser, it can make it more difficult, or even impossible, for your moisturiser to do this, as you’re adding a barrier between the moisturiser and deeper layers of the skin. If this is the case, it essentially means that your moisturiser can’t do its job very well, leaving your skin dry, and wasting your product.

There is a big debate about whether or not you should be using your moisturiser before or whether you should be using your sunscreen first, between dermatologists and other specialists in the skincare industry, as science can show some conflicting ideas.

On Sale - $2.20Bestseller No. 1
CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion for Dry Skin | Body Lotion & Face Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid and Ceramides | Daily Moisturizer | Fragrance Free | Oil-Free | 12 Ounce
  • [ DAILY MOISTURIZING LOTION ] Smooth, light-weight texture that is absorbed quickly, leaving skin feeling smooth and hydrated, never greasy
  • [ LONG-LASTING HYDRATION ] Contains Hyaluronic Acid to help retain skins natural moisture and MVE technology to provide 24 hour hydration
On Sale - $2.51Bestseller No. 2
L’Oréal Paris Collagen Daily Face Moisturizer, Reduce Wrinkles, Face Cream 1.7 oz
48,484 Reviews
L’Oréal Paris Collagen Daily Face Moisturizer, Reduce Wrinkles, Face Cream 1.7 oz
  • Day and night face and chest cream: provides skin with a daily dose of intense hydration that helps to fill in the appearance of lines and wrinkles and helps restore moisture for smoother, plumper skin
  • This lightweight, non-greasy moisturizer delivers hydration and moisture to all skin types, including sensitive skin and absorbs quickly without leaving a sticky film, for smoother, nourished, younger-looking skin
On Sale - $11.50Bestseller No. 3
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Face Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid for Dry Skin, Oil-Free and Non-Comedogenic Water Gel Face Lotion, 1.7 oz
72,027 Reviews
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Face Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid for Dry Skin, Oil-Free and Non-Comedogenic Water Gel Face Lotion, 1.7 oz
  • Hydro Boost Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Water Gel face moisturizer instantly quenches dry skin & locks in clinically proven hydration for 24 hours
  • Neck & face moisturizer for dry skin is lightweight, oil free, non-comedogenic, & formulated with hyaluronic acid, a hydrator naturally found in skin that binds to water & holds it within skin's surface for more supple & smooth skin

If you click Buy on Amazon and make a purchase, I'll earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Some people also like to mix their moisturiser and sunscreen together, for some reason, probably because it can sometimes make the two products feel lighter on the skin. However, if you are doing this, you are lowering the concentration of UV filters present in the product, as another one is added, and this eventually makes the sunscreen less effective, reducing its ability to protect your skin and filter out the UV rays.

Although the topic is quite confusing and sometimes contradicting, the best option is to apply a small amount of moisturiser first and allow it to completely soak in before adding your sunscreen on top.

Also read: 7 Things A Sunscreen Does to Your Skin (Explained)

What about the other skincare steps?

Of course, moisturiser most likely isn’t the only step in your entire skincare routine, so these things do need to be taken into consideration as well. Just like the slightly foggy areas that crop up when looking at just sunscreen and moisturiser alone, there are some grey areas when it comes to looking at your whole skincare routine, too. Luckily, there are still some things you can keep in mind and, ultimately, there is one routine which will be more effective than any other.

The first step of your routine should always be cleansing you face, and this will set your face up for being prepared to absorb any products, and allow them to work to their full potential. It also, as the name suggests, cleans your face, removing any bacteria or excess surface oils. Any form of exfoliation or toner is also considered a cleansing step, so this should follow.

If you use a serum, essence or something with a similar purpose and consistency, this belongs straight after your cleanser, as these products tend to be highly concentrated with ingredients designed to penetrate through your skin’s layers. Therefore, they need to be free to do this, without the barrier of any other products.

Now, it’s time for your moisturiser, as this is the second priority in terms of penetrating through your skin. As we discovered earlier, the best thing to do here is apply your moisturiser and wait until it has been fully absorbed by your skin before moving into the next step. Eye creams are also a form of moisturisers, so they can be applied at this stage if you’d like.

For those who wear any sort of anti-aging creams or similar products that don’t fit into any of the previous categories, this will be applied now. It’s good to make sure all your other skincare products have been applied before putting on your sunscreen, which should be the final step. This is because the other products have the potential to interfere with the sunscreen and make its UV filters less effective if they’re placed on top.

Can I wear makeup over sunscreen?

For some people, an additional skincare regime isn’t the only element of their morning routine, and makeup can play a big role in may of our daily lives. Most makeup wearers will do everything they can to wear as much makeup as possible, so does sunscreen affect this in any way?

The truth is that luckily for you, your sunscreen won’t interfere with your makeup or vice versa, meaning you can wear any cosmetic products at the same time as protecting your skin from the Sun. Just make sure that you put on your sunscreen before any makeup in order to make sure that it is still able to act with your skin as it should without the barrier of another product such as foundation or powder.

However, as long as you follow this guideline, there is nothing stopping you from wearing a full face of makeup whilst also wearing your sunscreen.

Which Goes First Sunscreen or Moisturiser pin by thirstyfortan

Final thoughts

While there are lots of mixed messages when it comes to applying a moisturiser or sunscreen first, even from professionals, the best thing to do is let your moisturiser first soak into your skin completely before applying your sunscreen second. The order of the rest of your products can vary too, but a good rule of thumb is to always apply your sunscreen last. This way, you always know that your skin is protected and there isn’t anything interfering with the SPF.

About Anastasija

Welcome to my website! I'm Anastasija, and as a redhead with a sensitivity to the sun, I embarked on a quest to find the perfect sunless tanner six years ago.

After extensive research and four years of personal experience, I'm here to share my wealth of tips and tricks for achieving a beautiful, sun-kissed glow.

Whether you're interested in self-tanners, spray tans, or safe sun exposure, this website covers it all.

Join me as I provide valuable insights and guidance for various methods of getting that desired tan.

Anastasija thirsty for tan about me

Leave a Comment