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 • Skincare  • Skincare Guides  • We Asked the Experts Whether You Should Ever Apply Your SPF Before Your Moisturiser

We Asked the Experts Whether You Should Ever Apply Your SPF Before Your Moisturiser

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Main image – Ohlamourstudio/Stocksy

We’re sure you’ve heard about the importance of sunscreen until you’re blue in the face. Well, here we are saying it again – sorry, not sorry! But are you sure you know everything?

Wearing sunscreen on a daily basis is essential. You know that. It protects your skin from harmful UV rays that can cause premature aging and damage that can lead to serious health concerns. 

You might also know that there are a few different types available.  One of the things you should be looking for on the label is the term ‘broad-spectrum’. This means it covers both UVA (the UV rays that age the skin) and UVB (the ones that burn it). The higher the SPF number, the better the protection and we recommend not going any lower that SPF 30.

But despite knowing why you should wear it, are you clued up on how? Because there seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding SPF, particularly when it comes to layering it with other products

Here, the co-founder of SPF brand Ultra Violette, Ava Matthews, along with Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at Self London give a clear rundown of how to use sunscreen with your moisturiser. 

Which one goes first? Can you mix them together to make one big miracle hydrator-protector? (Short answer: please no.) And how long do you need to wait before applying makeup?

Keep reading to find out how best to layer your SPF with your other products, whilst still maintaining their benefits. 

 

Image – Irina/Adobe

 


What should you apply first: moisturiser or sunscreen?

We’re going straight in with one of beauty’s most common misconceptions. Because believe it or not, knowing the order of your products, particularly SPF, is crucial to how they all work.

“It’s generally recommended to apply sunscreen as the final step in your skincare routine, meaning it would come after moisturiser,” explains Dr Mahto. “This ensures that the sunscreen forms a protective barrier on top of your skin, effectively blocking harmful UV rays.”

It would be detrimental to both your skin and the efficiency of your products if you did it the other way around. “If you apply moisturiser after sunscreen, it may dilute the sunscreen or interfere with its ability to adhere to the skin properly, reducing its effectiveness,” she adds. 

 


Do you always need both moisturiser and sunscreen?

“While they both offer hydration and protection, they generally serve different purposes and provide unique benefits for the skin,” Dr Mahto explains. 

Moisturisers primarily focus on hydrating the skin and replenishing moisture, whereas sunscreen is specifically formulated to protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation, such as sunburn, premature ageing and skin cancer.”

But although they do different things, Dr Mahto says you can skip moisturiser to save from sporting an extra layer of shine. “Those with oily skin types may find they don’t need a moisturiser at all as a lot of sunscreen formulations nowadays are moisturising enough on their own.” Hallelujah!

“Drier skin types may find they want to include a moisturiser to help with hydration, but normal to oily skin types will typically find they’re fine with just a moisturising sunscreen,” she adds. 

Alternatively, you can use a moisturiser with sunscreen in it.  Although if you’re thinking of doing that, Matthews suggests using a dedicated product like one of Ultra Violette’s classics to make sure you’re getting the right amount of SPF protection. 

“I’d recommend you try Supreme Screen SPF50+.

“Moisturisers with SPF can be tricky because you can’t apply enough to reach the full protection listed on the bottle. Supreme hits different though. It’s foremost an SPF, that triples as a moisturiser and primer too,” she explains.

 

Image – Cult Beauty UK

 


How long should you wait between applying them?

Whilst we’re all in a hurry to start the day in the morning, it’s important to let each product sink in and do its good work, if you can. “A few minutes should be fine,” says Matthews.

“It just needs to be long enough so that your moisturiser has absorbed and not too wet as to not allow your SPF to dry and form a film which is how it works.”

 


Can you mix your moisturiser and sunscreen together?

Appealing isn’t it? Surely the two mixed together can act as one big time-saving, skincare force. But Matthews advises against becoming your very own at-home scientist. “To get their SPF rating, all sunscreens are tested individually on skin and without your personal cocktail of moisturiser, face oil, liquid highlighter or bronzing drops mixed in,” she says.

“So, we don’t know how these (albeit fun) additions will affect the formula. They could destabilise the UV filters or just dilute the SPF, all of which leads to you not properly future-proofing your face.”

 

Image – Irina/Adobe

 


How long should you wait to apply makeup after sunscreen?

The same rules apply here as when applying sunscreen on top of moisturiser. “Your SPF needs time to dry down and form a film on the skin,” says Matthews

My recommendation is to apply your SPF, get dressed, make your morning cup of coffee then come back and do your makeup regime. That should give your SPF plenty of time to absorb and do its thing, uninterrupted.

 


The takeaway

Of all the things to get just right in beauty, it’s your sunscreen. The health of your skin depends on it. 

First and foremost, always apply your SPF as the last step in your skincare regime – over the top of your moisturiser – so that it isn’t blocked or diluted by other skincare products. 

And give each product a few minutes to sink in before applying the next. The same applies for your makeup, but I would give your SPF as long as possible to penetrate, for maximum protection.

And finally, don’t try to cook up a moisturiser-SPF cocktail. Neither product will work to the best of its ability if it’s mixed with the other. And you could be putting your skin at risk if it isn’t protected as well as you think it is. 

 

Meet the experts

Ava Matthews is co-founder of sunscreen brand Ultra Violette.

 

Dr Anjali Mahto is Consultant Dermatologist at Self London.

 

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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University
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