Sunscreen: Before or After Moisturizer?

Sunscreen: Before or After Moisturizer?

You likely know not to go outside without proper sun protection, but few people can answer this pressing question: does sunscreen go on before or after moisturizer?

Ask experts in both beauty and skincare, and you’ll receive different answers. However, most agree on one thing—it depends on the type of sunscreen you use. Mineral sunscreens do best when applied last, while chemical sunscreens should go on your bare face.

Why is that the case? Let’s break down the science behind sunscreen to understand why the order of your skincare products matters.



Sunscreen plays a vital role in protecting your skin against harmful sun rays such as UVA and UVB rays. You should wear sunscreen everyday day if possible to protect your skin. Its primary benefits include:

  • Reduction in your chance of developing skin cancer
  • Protection from discoloration and early aging
  • Protection from skin damage such as sunburns, which can cause long- and short-term damage

An increased risk of skin cancer is one of the most highly-discussed risks of unsafe exposure to UV rays over time. This includes the risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

But the short-term ramifications shouldn’t be overlooked, either—sunburn from sun exposure  alone can cause first, second, and even third-degree burns in rare cases.



Sunscreen and moisturizer both work to maintain the health of your skin, but they do so in different ways. A good sunscreen will:

  • Prevent harmful UV rays from reaching your skin
  • Be waterproof so you don’t have to worry about sweating it off
  • Come in mineral and chemical forms

Meanwhile, moisturizers:

  • Are barriers that lock moisture into your skin
  • Are breathable rather than waterproof
  • Contain hydrating and moisturizing ingredients to help nourish dry skin

It’s possible to buy a SPF moisturizer, and this is a decent option for people who would otherwise balk at the idea of adding another step to their morning skincare product routine. You should note, though, that a combination of ingredients will always have weaker sun protection.



All that aside, does sunscreen go on before or after moisturizer? 

Technically, you can do it in any order, because any sunscreen at all is better than none. However, applying before or after may be more ideal in certain cases. If you have a chemical sunscreen, for example, you’ll likely want to apply it before any other product.

What are the benefits of applying sunscreen first?

  • The product can absorb into the skin directly, providing fuller protection 
  • The sunscreen won’t wipe off your skin as easily if it’s on the lowest layer
  • You’ll never forget to apply it if it’s first on your to-do list

On the flip side, applying sunscreen first may:

  • Irritate sensitive skin
  • Interfere with the application of makeup

Additionally, mineral sunscreen may work better as the outermost layer of the product.

Regardless, it’s important to remember that you’ll need to reapply your sunscreen throughout the day if you’re spending a significant time outdoors, so putting it on first may not matter much in the long run.



If you have a mineral sunscreen, you’re likely going to want to apply it at the end of your skincare routine, before your makeup. Mineral sunscreen works by reflecting UV rays, so having it on the outermost layer gives it the best edge.

Other benefits of applying sunscreen after your moisturizer include: 

  • The moisturizer barrier can ease skin irritation from sunscreen chemicals
  • It’s easier to reapply

What are the potential cons of applying sunscreen after moisturizer? 

  • It may come off faster
  • The moisturizer may create a barrier that keeps the sunscreen from penetrating the skin
  • You may be more likely to forget it if it’s a final add-on

Ultimately, having the right SPF and reapplying your sunscreen every 2 hours is more important than the order you choose to layer your skincare.



When deciding how to layer your products, consider keeping these several factors in mind:


Will you be indoors or outside? At a beach, or away from water? Constant exposure to sun requires more frequent sunscreen application, which might affect the order you use your skincare products.


Does your sunscreen have a higher SPF? Is it waterproof? Look at the specs of your other products, too, including your moisturizer. This can help you decide what you want on the outer and inner layers of your skincare routine.



You may want to change your layering strategy depending on what you’re doing. If you’re going to be swimming or sweating a lot, for example, you’ll need to reapply sunscreen every 40 to 80 minutes instead of every 2 hours, so you might as well use a mineral sunscreen.

If you’re curious about your specific products and skincare needs, don’t be afraid to talk to a dermatologist, either. They can give you more direct and tailored advice.


Does sunscreen go on before or after moisturizer? The answer to that question depends on several factors, including your products, the activities you’re doing, and what you want out of your routine.

For mineral sunscreens, active people, and people with sensitive skin, applying sunscreen after our copper peptide moisturizer may work better. For chemical sunscreens and people staying indoors, applying moisturizer beforehand might be the best choice.

Ultimately, what’s most important is for you to get into the habit of using a daily sunscreen that effectively protects your skin from harmful UV rays—and Seven:Thirty is here to help. Our DAILY HABIT SPF 30 sunscreen includes powerful antioxidants that double down on sun protection. Yet it’s still gentle enough for daily wear for all skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone skin. 

Upgrade your skincare routine and get the maximum product benefits with Seven:Thirty.


Johns Hopkins Medicine. Sunscreen and Your Morning Routine.

Sharp Health. Are Moisturizers with Sunscreen Effective?

Business Insider. Skincare experts explain whether you should apply your sunscreen before or after moisturizer — and why.
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