Sunscreen or Moisturizer First: The Answer Is "It Depends"

Sunscreen and moisturizer are essential steps in any skincare routine. Whether you love a full-face makeup look or you're all about something a little more subtle, high-quality sunscreen and moisturizer products are key to healthy skin. 

Journ is here to help you find the best products for the job. Every person is different, and that’s why every skincare routine should be individualized to fit your specific skincare needs. 

Here’s what you’ll want to know about adding skincare and moisturizer to your skincare routine.  

Skincare Routine Order: Which Comes First? 

Typically, sunscreen and moisturizer are two of the last products you’ll apply during your morning skincare routine and before makeup. 

At night, you’ll probably end with moisturizer since you do not need to worry about sun protection when you go to bed. During the day, many people apply sunscreen last, after their moisturizer application. 

Does that mean sunscreen always comes last? Not exactly. There are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when planning your sunscreen and moisturizer routine, so here’s what you need to know to get started. 

Why Is Sunscreen Important?  

But first, the basics about why sunscreen is such a critical step in your skincare routine. There’s no better way to protect your skin from the sun than with regular sunscreen application—even if you don’t experience regular sunburns. While sunburns can be painful and irritating, skipping the sunscreen can have even more effects in the long term that you want to avoid. 

Wearing sunscreen can help protect your skin from harmful UV rays, which canmay cause long term skin damage and even skin cancer. Suncreen also helps prevent visible signs of premature aging, like wrinkles. That’s why it’s so important to wear sunscreen every day, even in the winter. 

Why Is Moisturizer Important?  

When it comes to smooth, soft skin, moisturizer is the star. High-quality moisturizers penetrate deep below the skin's surface and help prevent dryness, itchiness, and irritation. Moisturizing is especially important in the cold weather, as the cold temperatures and in-home heating systems dry out the skin. 

Moisturizer doesn’t just provide comfort and relief from irritation. Properly moisturizing your skin can also help reduce the appearance of blemishes and wrinkles when you choose a product with ingredients like retinoids and vitamin C

If you’re looking to moisturize your hands and sanitize them, our ALSO Daily Moisturizer & Sanitizer is the perfect product for youjust the thing. 

Can I Apply Them Together?  

While both sunscreen and moisturizer are essential steps to any skincare routine, you shouldn’t apply them at exactly the same time. 

That is because the ingredients that go into moisturizers can negate or weaken some of the protective ingredients in sunscreen. Because sunscreen is essential to protecting your skin against excess sun exposure, you want to ensure it’s working at maximum capacity. 

For that reason, go in with your moisturizer first and allow it to be absorbed completely before applying sunscreen. This will ensure that both products work how they’re supposed to and will help to keep your skin smooth, hydrated, and protected. 

When Do You Use Sunscreen First?  

The process for applying your moisturizer and sunscreen will depend on what kind of sunscreen you’re using. 

There are two main types of sunscreen: chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreen should be used before moisturizerfirst when applying your skincare routine.

Chemical Sunscreen at a Glance  

As the name would indicate, chemical sunscreens work through a chemical process. They protect the skin from the sun by absorbing the sun’s rays and then releasing that energy in the form of heat. This keeps the UV rays from being absorbed into the skin and helps protect your skin from excess sun exposure

You should apply chemical sunscreen before moisturizing. For it to be effective, sunscreen needs to penetrate the surface of the skin. Allow the chemical moisturizer ample time to be absorbed into the skin before moving on to the next step of your skincare routine

When Do You Use Moisturizer First?  

Your other option for sunscreen is a physical sunscreen. Here’s why physical sunscreen should be applied after your preferred moisturizer

Physical Sunscreen at a Glance  

Physical sunscreen is also known as mineral sunscreen or sunblock—and it does just that. Physical sunscreen works as a physical barrier against the sun's harmful rays. 

Its composition of minerals serves as a protective field, which is why it should be applied as the final stage of your skincare process. Unlike chemical sunscreen, physical sunscreen doesn’t need to be absorbed into the skin. Instead, it should be layered as the very last step to protect everything underneath. 

Avoid mixing your sunscreen with your moisturizer specifically to protect the minerals that make up that protective barrier and avoid diluting them. Once your moisturizer has been absorbed into the skin, you can add that final layer of protection without worrying about weakening it by mixing the ingredients. 

A Quick Fix  

If you want to skip the fuss and make your morning routine quicker, you do have one great option—moisturizer with SPF. Many moisturizers come with protective SPF ingredients that will help keep your skin safe from the harmful rays of the sun. Since you’re already using your moisturizer every day, it’ll be one less thing for you to remember during a busy morning. 

If you like a natural makeup look, you may also want to consider a tinted moisturizer with SPF. Tinted moisturizers with SPF can help smooth out the complexion and reduce the appearance of redness and blemishes while still providing protection, eliminating the need to use foundation on top. 

It’s worth noting that the strength of the SPF you need depends on the season, your level of sun exposure, and how much time you’re planning to spend outside. Moisturizers with SPF can be effective for everyday coverage, but if you’re planning to go hiking or kayaking on a hot summer day, pick a higher SPF


Sunscreen and moisturizer are key steps in any skincare routine, no matter what other products you use. 

Sunscreen helps prevent damage from excess sun exposure, which can lead to redness, drying, and irritation. Moisturizer is also important for protecting the skin. It reduces the feeling of dryness and can help prevent cracking or damage. Still, knowing which product to use and when is vital when planning out the perfect skincare routine is vital. 

The order in which you apply your sunscreen and moisturizer will depend upon what kind of sunscreen you’re using—physical or chemical

Chemical sunscreen works by penetrating the skin's surface and converting the UV rays that hit into heat. That’s why it has to be applied directly to the skin—so it can be properly absorbed and work to the best of its ability. Physical sunscreen consists of protective minerals that help create a barrier or field. For that reason, it should be the last product you apply during your morning routine. 

While you should never mix your sunscreen and moisturizer, you can find moisturizers with SPF. This can make for a faster morning routine and ensure you get the protection you need every time. 

For skincare products that you can trust and skincare guides you can rely on, turn to the team here at Journ. Begin by taking the skincare quiz on our website, and find the best new products for care that works. 


All About Sunscreen | Skin Cancer Foundation 

The Importance of Moisturizer | The University of Tennessee Medical Center 

How to Choose Your Sunscreen | Penn Medicine