Should You Apply Sunscreen Before or After Moisturizer?
Keeping a consistent skincare routine is essential for a healthy complexion, but did you know that the order in which you apply your products can help maximise results? From layering serums to applying sunscreen, order matters. In this article, we'll break down the right way to incorporate sun protection into your skincare routine, along with tips for how to simplify your regimen while maximising results for healthy, protected skin.
So, where does sunscreen fit into my routine?
How to Navigate the Moisturiser & Sunscreen Ritual
We all know that our skin needs both moisture and SPF protection—they are essential to keeping your skin healthy. So let’s start with moisture—keeping your skin hydrated allows it to work properly. When the outermost layer of the skin has the moisture it needs, it can more effectively defend against toxins and carry nutrients to the skin's cells. Moisturising creams and lotions help support and restore the skin's barrier, improving overall texture and softness. Of course, wearing sunscreen is a no-brainer, but if you need a quick refresher—using SPF (even on cloudy days) is vital to help protect us from the sun's damaging harmful UV rays, which can lead to skin cancer, discolouration, and aging over time.
Ok, so now that we are clear that we need both hydration and protection from UVA/UVB rays to maintain healthy skin, things start getting a bit tricky—and the questions arise. Do I need two separate skincare products to do this? If so, which one do I apply first? Does my skin type matter? Let’s tackle them once and for all.
Sunscreen, Moisturiser, or Both?
At this point, you have a skincare routine that works for your skin type—which is great. But what many people don’t understand is that the order of your skincare steps matters when it comes to getting the best results.
So which comes first—sunscreen or moisturiser? This isn’t an easy answer. In fact, even dermatologists disagree with it. This issue is that your moisturiser can interfere with the effectiveness of your SPF. The concern is that when a serum or moisturiser is applied before sunscreen, it can create a barrier that prevents the sunscreen from fully penetrating your skin to protect it from sun exposure. However, when your moisturiser is applied after sunscreen, it can interfere with how the sunscreen interacts with the sun.
SPF Layering: Chemical vs. Physical Sunscreen
So what should you do? It depends on which type of sunscreen you choose—non-mineral (also known as chemical) or physical.
A non-mineral sunscreen is recommended to be applied before your moisturiser. This is because non-mineral sunscreen needs to be absorbed into the skin to provide sun protection. One of our favorite formulas is COOLA’s classic SPF50 Face Cream —perfect if you are going out for a run or if you'll be outside for longer. It is designed for long active days in the sun but feels light as a moisturiser. If you prefer to apply it after your moisturiser, make sure to wait until your moisturiser is fully absorbed first, so that the sunscreen can also be absorbed better.
However, a physical sunscreen (aka mineral sunscreen) should always be applied after your moisturiser. This is because a physical sunscreen sits on top of the skin —it never penetrates it—instead creating a barrier between your skin and UV rays, reflecting them away.
For a Simplified Routine
Looking to minimise your routine? Try a dual-purpose sunscreen product, like our nourishing SPF Sun Silk drops. This ultra-light, silky fluid can be applied as the SPF step (before your moisturiser) or blended* with your foundation or tinted moisturiser to simplify it as one skincare step. Formulated with a plant-derived Blue screen Digital De-Stress technology, these lightweight drops do it all—provide broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and help mitigate the effects of HEV light (aka blue light), infrared, and pollution.
*Note: Blending Sun Silk Drops with other products may decrease the claimed SPF value.
For Dry, Parched Skin
Want something that’s more moisturising? For those that need extra moisture, try COOLA’s Refreshing Water Cream SPF50, which combines your daily moisturiser and powerful SPF protection in one step. In fact, it's the highest SPF available in an organic daily moisturiser. It contains Hyaluronic Acid and organic Aloe & Coconut Water to hydrate skin while protecting from sun damage. For easy SPF reapplication throughout the day, carry our lightweight hydration mist with SPF 18 in your purse or beach tote and refresh your sunscreen in a few quick sprays.
For Dull Skin Lacking a Healthy Glow
Finally, we’ve simplified your skincare routine even more with COOLA’s Dew Good Illuminating Serum SPF30. It allows you to combine three steps into one. The organic serum hydrates, illuminates, and protects, and it can be applied directly after cleansing skin to serve as your serum, moisturiser, and SPF. A true multi-tasker!
Most importantly, remember that applying sunscreen (no matter which way you do it!) is better than not applying it at all. You never want to leave the house without at least SPF 30 or higher sunscreen. From incorporating an SPF-friendly moisturiser into your routine to learning whether to apply sunscreen before or after makeup, get dermatologist-approved tips and tricks to maintaining healthy, protected skin with COOLA.