Okay—layering your skincare the correct way is sacrosanct. That explains why you start off with something as lightweight as a serum, and conclude with something as thick as a moisturiser. A moisturiser is supposed to come in right at the end to be able to seal in moisture as well as the formulas you layered onto your skin. But, then, when does sunscreen enter the chat? Because you must sun-proof your skin before stepping out, right? Does it form a barrier over your moisturiser? Or do you apply it right under your moisturiser? And, no, skipping out on moisturiser isn’t an option—especially if you have dry skin.
If your Google search history looks a little like ‘sunscreen first or moisturiser’ or ‘moisturiser first or sunscreen’ or ‘first moisturiser or sunscreen’, we’ve got you. Because we have the answer. We’ve put together an assortment of some of the best sunscreens and moisturisers to invest in too. Time to start saving up for that summer-cart to come in on time!
So, What Should You Apply First?
This one’s a pretty tricky subject to navigate. Most experts are conflicted, and that’s because your moisturiser can interact with your sunscreen in two ways. When layered under your sunscreen, it might prevent the formula from seeping into your skin because of the barrier it creates over the surface. And when layered over your sunscreen, it can interfere with the way in which your sunscreen protects your skin.
But let’s get to the point. If you’re thinking, ‘should I apply sunscreen before or after moisturiser?’ and ‘should I apply sunscreen after moisturiser?’, we do have an answer for you. Which one comes first? To answer this question, you must acquaint yourself with the different types of sunscreen: mineral-based/physical and chemical-based. These are the two types of sunscreen. The former blocks U.V rays by sitting on top of your skin, and functioning as a barrier against the rays of the sun. It’s a physical form of sun-protection that doesn’t absorb or seep into the skin. It’s also referred to as sunblock (though most products aren’t labeled ‘sunblock’ anymore), and can contain ingredients like Zinc Oxide and Titanium Oxide. And the latter works by absorbing U.V rays (but not completely) by seeping into the skin before the rays can penetrate and damage the dermal layers. It can contain ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone, or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) to do much of the absorption, and is referred to as ‘chemical’ sunscreen. It’s a chemical defense against the sun.
Why are we schooling you on the difference between the two? It’s simple. They work in very different ways from one another. While chemical sunscreens need to seep into your skin to be able to protect your skin from U.V-induced damage, physical sunscreens just sit on the surface of your skin like a bullet-proof vest. Do you see where this is going?
Since a chemical-based formula must penetrate the skin, applying a moisturiser before can prevent it from absorbing into your skin—because moisturisers form a seal or barrier over your skin. And that’s why you need to layer a chemical sunscreen onto your skin before reaching out for a moisturiser.
Let’s apply the same rationale to mineral or physical sunscreens. Since they don’t have to seep into your skin to work their charm, it’s only logical to apply a moisturiser before this type of sunscreen. If you apply a moisturiser after, your sunscreen will not be able to block the rays of the sun anymore—hence, rendering it ineffective.
No. It might sound like a smart idea, but it isn’t. If you’re under the impression that one can bolster the efficacy of the other, that’s not how it works. Here’s what happens when you introduce the two to one another:
Mixing can render both formulas ineffective. Your moisturiser might contain properties that could deactivate the U.V filters in your sunscreen.
You’ll just end up diluting the SPF in the process. You could turn an SPF 30 into an SPF 15 by mixing. And you don’t want to do that.
Either way, your skin is more susceptible to U.V-induced damage like spots, photo-ageing, cancer, pigmentation, burns, tanning, and more. Bottom-line? Don’t mix the two. If you want the benefits of both in one product, you can invest in a moisturiser with SPF instead. But ensure that the SPF is 30 or above for it to sun-proof your skin effectively.
There’s not much of a comparison between the two because they serve very different purposes. A moisturiser creates a barrier over your skin to lock in moisture, and a sunscreen protects your skin from sun damage.
So what comes first? Sunscreen or moisturiser? To reiterate—it depends on the type of sunscreen you’re using. If you’re wearing a chemical sunscreen, it must be layered under your moisturiser to be able to trickle into your skin. Make sure you’re waiting for about thirty minutes before stepping out into the sun—chemical sunscreens require a little bit of time to absorb into the skin. Physical sunscreen should be applied after your moisturiser as it merely sits on the surface of your skin. And you can step out immediately after application.
We’re putting together a couple of (physical and chemical) sunscreens for you—along with a list of moisturisers that hydrate and nourish your skin intensely.
With SPF-30 PA+++ protection, the MyGlamm Superfoods Kiwi And Coconut Sunscreen doesn’t just protect you from UVA rays and UVB rays. It’s enriched with kiwi to boost the production of collagen in the skin; chlorine to restore the elasticity of the skin; coconut to hydrate and moisturise; and Vitamin E to soothe and calm. Pretty much embodies the ‘superfoods’ tag, doesn’t it?
Organic Harvest Sunscreen For All Skin Types SPF 50 (Physical Sunscreen)
This SPF 50 sunscreen protects you against the effects of UVB and UVA rays, and melts into your skin seamlessly for a matte-like finish. It’s formulated in a way that it doesn’t leave behind a white-ish residue on the surface of your skin—and it’s sweat-proof and water-resistant. It’s India’s first certified Organic sunscreen that offers you protection from man-made sources of blue light as well—in other words, protection from light emitted from your screens. Because, yes, they can have long-term effects like premature ageing on the skin.
Price: INR 465
If you’re looking for a broad-spectrum formula that offers the highest levels of protection against sun-induced damage, the St. Botanica Vitamin C SPF 75 PA+++ sunscreen is ideal for you. This multi-purpose sunscreen, apart from forming a protective barrier over your skin, is infused with the richness of Vitamin C, retinol, shea butter, and extracts of cucumber as well as green tea. Are you sold? Because I know I am.
Price: INR 799
H3: Oriental Botanics Nature's Vitamin C Brightening Sunscreen SPF 50
A sunscreen derived straight from the most abundant source of Vitamin C, kakadu plum, this one sun-proofs and brightens your skin. Known to prevent sunburn and photo-ageing, it contains potent botanical ingredients like orange peel, lemon, raspberry, kiwi fruit, and grapefruit extracts as well as hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and pro-vitamin B5 that, in conjunction with one another, improve the texture of your skin, nourish, prevent wrinkles and lines, and preserve your glow. And if that isn’t enough, this one is infused with another set of skin-loving ingredients like raspberry extract, carrot seed extract, and avocado oil that protect and brighten the skin. Why do we love it? It leaves chemicals like parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, silicone out of its formulation, and it’s hypoallergenic (not likely to trigger an allergic reaction) apart from being PETA-certified as cruelty-free and vegan. Hands down one of the best sunscreen lotions for dry skin.
Price: INR 749
Looking for a moisturiser that brightens your skin? Try this out. Apart from reviving dullness and dryness, this illuminating formula is infused with antioxidant-laden rosehip oil that strengthens, heals, and brightens the skin over time.
Want a moisturiser but don’t like the sticky feeling many of them leave behind? Look no further. This formula continues to hydrate your skin throughout the day. Lightweight and non-greasy, it uses a bi-layer hyaluronic patch system with natural oils for maximum hydration along with healing and repairing damaged skin.
This ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid-infused moisturiser boasts brightening and anti-ageing properties that fade spots and pigmentation, and tighten and firm the skin—thanks to vitamin C and vitamin E. And it doubles as a broad-spectrum sunscreen too! With SPF 30 and PA+++ rating, it protects your skin from UVA rays and UVB rays.
Price: INR 1,499
Here’s a quick recap of the article. Chemical sunscreen must be applied before moisturiser; and physical sunscreen must be applied right after. You shouldn’t mix your moisturiser with your sunscreen as this does more harm than good. So what are you waiting for? Now that we’ve settled the ‘first sunscreen or moisturiser’ dilemma, it’s time to do some shopping!
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