Can You Mix Sunscreen With Moisturizer?

by Gio
can you mix sunscreen with moisturizer?

Can you mix sunscreen with moisturizer?

I did it all the time when I was younger. I thought I was so clever, too.

Most sunscreens back then were so thick, they’d turn my face into a greasy, shiny pan… or Caspar The Ghost. You’d think someone as pale as me wouldn’t even notice the white cast some sunscreens leave behind. Oh boy, you’re wrong…

Mixing a few drops of sunscreen with my fave moisturizer seemed like the perfect solution. I’d get sun protection without all the aesthetic side effects. Plus, I’d cut my skincare routine shorter to boot.

If you’re thinking, “That’s a great idea, why haven’t I thought of that myself?,” I’ve got bad news for you. Mixing your sunscreen with moisturizer is a crappy idea. Here’s why:

What Happens When You Mix Sunscreen With Moisturizer?

Mixing sunscreen with moisturizer seems such an innocent thing. But two nasty things happen when you force them to mingle so close together:

  1. You’re diluting your sunscreen: Think about it. To get the SPF level stated on the packaging, you need to apply 1/2 teaspoon on your face. If you mix your sunscreen with your moisturizer (or any other skincare product, for that matter) there’s no way you can apply that much. You could be turning a SPF30 into an SPF15 or lower!
  2. Conflict of ingredients: Sunscreens are delicate things. Some of the ingredients in your moisturizer or foundation may compromise their UV filters, making them less effective.

Translation: when you’re mixing sunscreen with moisturizer, lotion, serum or whatever, you’re compromising its effectiveness.

Related: How Much Sunscreen Do You Really Need To Apply?

Can You Mix Sunscreen With Moisturizer?

Mixing your sunscreen with moisturizer, foundation or lotion may seem like the perfect solution to all your sunscreen problems, but in reality, it does your skin more harm than good.

When you’re mixing them together, you’re compromising the effectiveness of your sunscreen, leaving your skin prone to sun damage, wrinkles and dark spots. Not a risk worth taking, is it? 😉

Instead, look for a sunscreen you love using. These days, you can easily find sunscreens with lightweight textures and in-built tint to avoid both the greasiness and the white cast. Phew!

Related: What Goes First: Moisturizer Or Sunscreen?

How effective is your sunscreen? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Sunscreen Audit” Worksheet and find out if your sunscreen is really up to the job:

What About Foundation, BB Cream, And Other Skincare And Makeup Products?

I’ve already touched on this above, but I’ll say it again just to make sure: you CAN’T mix sunscreen with anything.

You can’t mix sunscreen with lotion.

You can’t mix sunscreen with foundation.

You can’t mix sunscreen with primer.

You can’t mix sunscreen with serum.

You can’t mix sunscreen with BB Cream (or CC Cream).

I’d even be wary of mixing sunscreen with another sunscreen (not all UV filters play well together).

Use sunscreen alone, on top of moisturizer, serum, or clean skin. Wait 15 minutes to give it time to settle and then apply makeup on top (if you don’t wait for it to settle, you’ll just rub it right off!).

The Bottom Line

Mixing sunscreen with moisturizer, lotion or any other products may seem like a good idea, but it’s anything but. You’ll just dilute the SPF and compromise the effectiveness of the sunscreen.

Have you ever mixed your sunscreen with lotion or foundation? Share your experience in the comments below.



Connie January 26, 2010 - 2:35 pm

Great post! I never mix my sunscreen and moisturizer 🙂 What’s your take on moisturizers/primers/foundations that contain spf? Many people don’t use a sunscreen because they think that the other products containing sunscreen is sufficient. I personally believe in using a separate sunscreen because I’ve been taught to do so but I’m still not too convinced as to why we need to use two separate products
.-= Connie´s last blog ..Eyeshadow Primers 101 =-.

Tahira May 11, 2017 - 10:24 pm

I always used to mix my sunscreen with moisturiser as sometimes I felt that just sunscreen on its own used to still make my skin feel dry especially in the heat
Can I still use moisturiser for a bit let’s says half an hour before I put sunscreen on?

Gio May 14, 2017 - 3:47 pm

Tahira, yes, you can do that. Just don’t mix them together or you won’t be well protected from UV rays.

All Women Stalker January 26, 2010 - 5:01 pm

I also wonder about products that (claim to) contain sunscreen. I guess they are not as effective but which ones (foundation/primer) are the most effective?

beautifulwithbrains January 26, 2010 - 6:42 pm

Connie, I used to be one of those people when I was younger! I was like, I don’t need sunscreen cos my moisturizer has SPF but after learning more about ingredients and how products work, I think using a separate sunscreen is necessary, unless you’re spending very little time outdoors.

The thing is that, to get the amount of protection claimed on the label, you need to apply a teaspoon of sunscreen on your face and then you have to reapply often throughout the day. The same applies to foundation or moisturizer. They will protect your skin from the sun but only if you apply several layers (which noone does) and do regular touch ups.

So, basically, if you’re spending most of the day inside and only go out to walk to your car for instance, using a moisturizer or foundation with spf will do. Or if you can’t apply sunscreen every two hours, retouching your makeup with a foundation or powder with spf, always provided you don’t spend too much time outdoors, will do too.

But if you know you’re gonna spend lots of time outside, always use a sunscreen. Other products with SPF won’t offer enough protection against the sun, unless you apply a huge amount of them.

jojoba (My Makeup Reviews) January 26, 2010 - 7:11 pm

i know it’s a bad practice but i have done that. however, i do apply SS beforehand…

i just like to mix them so the foundation is sheered out and get extra SS. not sure if this was OK but it makes my face less fake looking especially when it’s one with heavy coverage.

jojoba (My Makeup Reviews) January 26, 2010 - 7:12 pm

oops you only mentioned SS with moisturiser. Nope, i don’t do that. i mix SS with foundations only. Still apply SS on my face before the mixture.

beautifulwithbrains January 26, 2010 - 7:14 pm

All Women Stalker, you’re right. Products that contain Spf aren’t as effective as sunscreen and shouldn’t be used instead of it, unless you spend very little time outdoors.

As for what the most effective is, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a foundation, a primer or a moisturizer. What matters are the ingredients and method of application. For these products to be effective, they need to contain ingredients that offer broad spectrum protection (like titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone, tinosorb and Mexoryl) in sufficient amounts (if they are listed towards the bottom, it’s less likely they’ll offer enough protection).

Also, even if they contain good ingredients, you need to apply several layers of these products on your face to get the protection claimed on the label. If you’re using a foundation with SPF30 for instance and only apply one layer, you won’t get SPF30, but SPF15 or even less.

These products can be ok to do touch-ups throughout the day if you can’t reapply sunscreen frequently or for those that spend most of the day indoors. Otherwise, always use a sunscreen anyway.

beautifulwithbrains January 26, 2010 - 8:56 pm

Jojoba, if you apply sunscreen beforehand anyway, then you should be fine. You still have the protection from your sunscreen and if mixing the two works better for you, then I guess why not? As long as you don’t rely solely on the lotion you mix, there shouldn’t be any problems.

Dao January 26, 2010 - 9:30 pm

I don’t mix my sunscreen but sometimes it can get really really thick so I may drop a tiny drop of moisturizer to it.
.-= Dao´s last blog ..GILTY Pleasures Weekly Blog Tour: Vol 3, 2010 =-.

beautifulwithbrains January 26, 2010 - 9:52 pm

Dao, thick sunscreen is a pain! I guess a tiny drop wouldn’t lower the spf that much, but I’d be more worried about some of the ingredients in the two products to cause problems when mixed. Personally, I wouldn’t risk it, not with a chemical sunscreen anyway. I’d get another sunscreen with a lighter consistency though.

prettybeautiful January 27, 2010 - 1:24 am

good point gio! hmm let’s say, if i use a moisturizer with SPF15, then foundation with SPF15, do you think i still need to pile on a SPF50 moisturizer? or just go with a SPF29 or something?
.-= prettybeautiful´s last blog ..Flying High with Inuovi Pro Lash EX 07 in the Air Craft =-.

Anastacia January 27, 2010 - 3:20 am

Awww! Thats actually was so helpful. But I really don’t like mixing any of products together…
.-= Anastacia´s last blog ..Neutral Eyes Using Two Faced Naughty and Nice Palette =-.

Sherry January 27, 2010 - 5:27 am

yeah I mix before as sunscreen very dry up my face
.-= Sherry´s last blog ..Firefox crashed?! =-.

beautifulwithbrains January 27, 2010 - 2:50 pm

Prettybeautiful, personally I wouldn’t rely solely on foundation and moisturizer with SPF, especially SPF15, which is not very high. And besides, you’d need to apply a lot of product (just one layer is not enough) on your face to actually get the protection it claims on the label. You can still use them, but I’d apply a sunscreen of at least SPF30 beforehand. Unless you’r spending most of the day indoors, other products with SPF won’t offer enough protection.

beautifulwithbrains January 27, 2010 - 3:01 pm

Anastacia, I’m glad you found it helpful. I’m with you there. I don’t like mixing products together and I do that as littl as possible. I like mixing blush and lipbalm to create lipgloss but I wouldn’t mess with skincare or sunscreen products.

beautifulwithbrains January 27, 2010 - 6:25 pm

Sherry, I know that’s tempting to do esp if your sunscreen is greasy or dries up your face, but you’re actually making it less effective. I’d avoid mixing the two and just buy another sunscreen that suits your skin and needs better 🙂

Connie January 28, 2010 - 2:04 pm

Thanks for the detailed explanation, Gio! The most of us certainly don’t reapply our sunscreen! They really should make some sort of face mist that has spf. those spray sunscreens are usually too oily!
.-= Connie´s last blog ..Review + New Stuff: I Spot a Dupe! =-.

beautifulwithbrains January 29, 2010 - 9:29 pm

Connie, you’re welcome. I agree with you, a face mist with SPF would be great. Unfortunately it’s not always possible to reapply sunscreen, esp when you have a full face of makeup on, so on those days doing touchups with foundation or powder with SPF is an alternative. It will give a lower protection than sunscreen but if you’re not spending a lot of time outside, it should do.

Sethunya August 12, 2016 - 3:26 pm

Hellow Dear!
What if im using the Body craem with SPF(Vaseline Even Tone) already,and i want to put bit more of SPF to my Body cream??

And will be fine aswell to put bit Drops of SPF Cream inside ma my Facial product(PONDS)?,Because i want to remain matt yet not sun Burnt… 🙂

THANK YOU Indvance for your Advise.

Gio August 20, 2016 - 11:53 am

Sethunya, hi! You should NEVER mix your sunscreen with your skincare products. You’ll just dilute and reduce its effectiveness.

Barry Jones May 29, 2017 - 6:19 pm

Can I mix together 50/50., Pin Biun moisturizing sun lotion 30spf and 10spf to make it 20spf, will this work?

Gio June 3, 2017 - 3:43 pm

Barry, I’m not sure why you’d want to decrease the SPF of your sunscreen? But nope it won’t work. When you mix together two SPFs, you get the SPF of the highest product you applied. So if your SPF30 and SPF10, you get SPF30.

Florence August 22, 2017 - 9:51 pm

What’s the difference between mixing your sunblock with your moisturizer vs. layering products onto your face? Aren’t you still diluting it, if you’re applying the serum, moisturizer and then the sunblock on top of them? And then you put primer and foundation on top of that, aren’t you still diluting the sunblock? No one has time to wait 10-15 mins between each application in the morning for each product to sink in.

Gio August 26, 2017 - 8:24 am

Florence, potentially what you apply over your sunscreen has the potential to dilute it. That’s why it’s best to wait a little before applying foundation and to use very gentle motions. If you vigorously rub your foundation on, you risk removing the sunscreen.

Cassidy November 26, 2017 - 8:48 pm

How do you feel about applying sunscreen OVER foundation? I know that wouldn’t be effective with a chemical sunscreen, but I use only physical filters and find that applying SPF over foundation (after letting it set, of course) looks and feels better.

Gio December 10, 2017 - 3:03 pm

Cassidy, if it works for you, I don’t see any problems with it.

Abigail Chukwumereze March 19, 2018 - 11:41 pm

hey there Gio, nice chat here on the sunscreen stuff, its really very effective and great, but, the first time i applied on my face, i was like grrrrrh, cos it was like i used nylon bag to cover my face and i actually wasnt comfortable with it, it was irritating me, buh, the truth is, its really great to use it… can you give me list of some nice suncreens to get for myself

Gio March 23, 2018 - 7:55 pm

Abigail, sunscreen can take some getting used to indeed. Can you tell me what your skin type is so I can point you in the right direction?

Isabel July 25, 2018 - 6:02 am

What if I wanted to apply a scented body butter or lotion? What would you suggest about the sunscrren and scented body butter or lotion?

Gio July 28, 2018 - 5:58 pm

Isabel, are you asking if you can mix body lotions with sunscreen? No, NEVER mix anything with sunscreen.

dawn May 29, 2019 - 11:48 am

Thanks for this post.
I’ve been mixing arrowroot powder with my sunscreen. is this also a problem?
Is blotting with tissue 15 mins after applying sunscreen a suitable alternative?

Gio June 4, 2019 - 7:17 pm

Dawn, as a rule, don’t mix anything with sunscreen. The alternative is better, yes.

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