EDIT 28/08/2017: This post has been updated with the latest scientific information.
Should you apply sunscreen or moisturiser first?
If you had stumbled onto my blog a few years ago, I’d have told you it depends on what type of sunscreen you’re using.
Slathering on a mineral sunscreen (you know, the type with zinc oxide)? Put it on after moisturizer. Prefer a sunscreen with synthetic UV filters like avobenzone? Put that on first.
Now I’m telling you to apply ALL kinds of sunscreens AFTER moisturizer.
Why the change of heart, I hear you ask?
Why I Used To Apply Sunscreen Before Moisturizer
When I first started getting into skincare, I stumbled on the YouTube channel of Dr. Neal Schultz, a board-certified dermatologist who practices in Manhattan.
He taught me that synthetic UV filters like avobenzone need to touch the skin so the chemical reaction that activates them can occur. If you were to put them on after moisturizer, they wouldn’t touch the skin, right?
(P.S. This chemical reaction is just the sunscreen settling down nicely to create an even film on the skin. Sunscreen can do that even when applied after moisturizer).
Thing is, the more I researched about sunscreen, the weirder this theory seemed. Dr Schultz is pretty much the only one promoting it.
Now, I’m not saying he’s lying or anything. I’m sure he has the best intentions at heart. But even the professionals can get it wrong sometimes. This is what I think is happening here.
Shop My Fave Sunscreens
Why Sunscreen Is Always The Last Step In Your Skincare Routine
Dr Neil Schultz aside, every other expert I consulted said that sunscreen – no matter what UV filters it uses – is ALWAYS the LAST step in your skincare routine.
The reason is simple: scientists test the effectiveness of your sunscreen by applying it last. They don’t get creative and apply sunscreen under moisturizer to see if it works as well.
If that’s how they do it, it’s good enough for me.
P.S. To be fair, scientists don’t use 10 layers of products and apply sunscreen on top. They tend to keep their routine pretty basic. That’s why I only use cleanser, vitamin C serum and sunscreen in the morning.
The Bottom Line
It doesn’t matter what sunscreen you’re using. Always apply it as the last step in your morning skincare routine.
Do you apply sunscreen before or after moisturizer? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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