Moisturizer Vs. Sunscreen for Face: Discover the Difference

moisturizer vs sunscreen for face

Moisturizers and sunscreen are two completely different things, and most importantly, they have distinctive characteristics. A moisturizer is something that is applied before the makeup to provide hydration. Most people use moisturizers every time there is dry skin on their faces. And as for sunscreens, they are used to protect the skin from direct sunlight.

So sunscreens are more likely to be lightweight products applied at the last stage of morning skincare to protect the skin. Moisturizers can be a bit different, but they mostly have the same function. But the sunscreen will vary based on the SPF rate. So what is the difference between moisturizer and sunscreen for the face?

Among moisturizer vs. sunscreen for face, the moisturizer is applied first, and then the sunscreen is applied on top. For the rest of the makeup, you can pile it on top. And for skin care, it’ll go under the moisturizer. So the first thing in the morning would be to use the skincare routine and lock everything up, apply a thin layer of day cream or moisturizer. And then put sunscreen on. With sunscreen, you might have to use it every two hours. But the moisturizers will stay intact for at least six hours. That is the primary distinction between face moisturizer and sunscreen.

Both sunscreen and moisturizer are the keys to skin care. You can skip almost every skincare step, but these two are the must-haves. For example, you can use a moisturizer after the cleanser, and the skin will be supple and sound anyway. But if you skip SPF, there’s a chance of long-term damage to the skin from sun rays. And this is why it is essential to use both of these products in skin care.

Most people believe sunscreen is a topical product and you only need to use it while strolling on a beach. But the truth is, even when there’s no sun for months, you still need to use some sunscreen as the regular rays of the sun are also very damaging. Mostly, without sunscreen, the skin ages faster. So with time, you’ll see the signs of aging become very prominent. Sunscreen is a must.

The basic skincare routine

The Basic Skincare Routine

Let us go over a few things to give you an idea of how a basic morning skincare routine works and to get us started on the moisturizer vs. sunscreen for face facts. Well, primary skin care will include the products we are debating. And mostly, it is not about winning but rather including them both so we can have a fair idea of why both a moisturizer and sunscreen are essential.

Start with a cleanser

The first thing you should do in the morning is wash your face with cleanser. The dirt and sebum built up all day long will be gone, and you’ll be left with a fresh canvas to start the routine.

A toner/serum/essence (optional)

As we are going for a basic skincare routine, a toner, serum, or essence is pretty much optional. For example, you’d want something hydrating that won’t dry your skin with toners. And for the serum, you can pair it with vitamin C, which will work perfectly for sunscreen and increase its potency. And next, for the essence, you can skip the toner and use an essence where the consistency lies between a serum and toner.

Use a good moisturizer

Then for the next step, we have the basic moisturizer. This step is vital as most cleansers tend to strip the face of hydration, and a moisturizer will give all of it back. A moisturizer can be used as a lotion, cream, oil, etc. Depending on how much hydration you need, you can choose either. A cream or lotion would be fine if you have normally dry skin. But if you have severely dry skin, use a face oil with moisturizer to give the perfect boost of moisture.

Finally, apply sunscreen

And now, for the end of our basic skincare routine, we recommend using sunscreen. The sunscreens are available as SPF 30 or more, which is perfect when you live in a topical region. But if you live in a place that’s gloomy and gets less sun exposure, SPF 20 or more is enough.

It is believed that sunscreens are summer products, but you need to use them every time you step out of the house or even stand in the window. The primary function of sunscreen is to ensure that it blocks the UV rays and does the healing previously done by the sun. It’s never too late to start on sunscreen.

These were just the basic three-step skincare routine. Based on your preference, you can change everything or some of it and also include the products that suit you the most.

The functions of a moisturizer

The Functions Of A Moisturizer

The moisturizer is for hydration and can be included with calming agents to make it more soothing. And it protects the skin from dryness. Here we are including some of the basic functions of a moisturizer.

It prevents dehydration

Moisturizers mostly work on the epidermal layer of the skin, which is the outer layer that heals the skin. This will also make sure that there is no dryness or patchiness.

Skin that is healthy and glowing

Dehydrated skin is the worst feeling and sight of all. So, with a bit of moisturizer, the skin gets back to its normal state and gets a boost of hydration. Moisturizers work by trapping the water particles that adhere to the face, thus making it supple.

It works with wrinkles

If the skin is too dehydrated, then there’s a chance of the skin pulling, which will eventually result in stretched skin, and thus the increasing signs of aging are common. This is primarily visible on the chuckle line and around the eyes and mouth.

It calms the skin

And lastly, they tend to heal the skin from beneath, which ensures that the skin is healed and calm. Most moisturizers use ceramides, aloe vera, and all the hydrating ingredients to make them more soothing.

The functions of sunscreen

The Functions Of Sunscreen

Sunscreens are the next best thing to your moisturizer, and most people, like me, are in love with their sunscreens. Here we are including some important functions of sunscreen.

Even complexion

Hyperpigmentation, specifically in darker skin tones, is very common. Direct sun exposure is one of the leading causes of uneven pigmentation, and the sunscreen protects the skin from natural UV radiation, so uneven skin tones will not be a problem.

Prevents premature aging

The majority of sunscreens protect youthful and young skin. And people who indulge themselves in sunscreen are those who have the most youthful skin of all. UVA and UVB increase the chances of wrinkles and fine lines, whereas sunscreens work against them.

Reduces the chances of cancer

Melanoma is a skin cancer often caused by the sun’s free radicals and primarily affects young women in their 20s. And a cream will shield you from a potentially fatal situation.

Overall, healthy skin

Sunscreens are mostly a barrier on the skin, and they work to protect the skin from everything in the environment, and they also have healing qualities. So they are the perfect sort of shield for the face from the sun.

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Moisturizers with sunscreen

Moisturizers With Sunscreen

Now that we have been able to give out the key benefits of sunscreen and a moisturizer, let us talk about a product that is a mixture of both. Moisturizer vs. sunscreen for face doesn’t have to exist with the incorporation of both. Some of the current moisturizers on the market have SPF in them. But does a moisturizer with SPF work as a sunscreen and a moisturizer? Well, sunscreen is supposed to sit on top of the skin and protect the skin from everything. And as for the moisturizers, they are supposed to go deep down and provide hydration. Combining sunscreen and moisturizer is not enough of a sun protection measure. So for this, you can:

  • Use a moisturizer with SPF in it. This will give extra protection.
  • Then apply regular sunscreen on top. This will provide the ultimate sun protection.

This should be followed during the day’s skincare routine, though.

Can you combine sunscreen and moisturizer? It appears that applying sunscreen and moisturizer to the skin is a good idea. It will save some time, and you don’t have to layer everything. But the hybrid of a moisturizer and an SPF doesn’t go well. And it has been proven that the amount of sun protection that you might need will not be from combining those two, but rather, two of them individually will work fine.

You can easily apply an SPF moisturizer. This will work as extra protection, but you will still need to apply the extra sunscreen layer to get the optimum layer.

What goes first? Moisturizer or sunscreen?

What Goes First

The thumb rule of applying sunscreen is that it goes to the final skincare routine. First, apply all skin care products and then add the moisturizer to lock it in. And then, use sunscreen, which will sit on top of the skin as a blocking layer and protect the skin. So here are the steps:

  1. Basic skincare
  2. Moisturizer
  3. Sunscreen and wait at least 20 minutes before sun exposure.
  4. Apply sunscreen every 90 minutes for two hours.

Moisturizer vs. sunscreen for face: key differences

The main difference between moisturizer and sunscreen is that sunscreen provides protection from the sun’s UV rays while moisturizer helps to lock in the moisture so it isn’t lost to the surrounding. Other than this, here are some other key differences to look out for when choosing between a moisturizer and sunscreen for the face.

Moisturizer Vs. Sunscreen For Face
  1. Moisturizers are mostly used in the winter for regular people, and sunscreens are often used in the summer. But in reality, these two products should be all-year-all-season ones.
  2. Moisturizers are available as creams, lotions, and oils. Sunscreen can be applied as a cream, ointment, or spray.
  3. Moisturizer tends to soak up the deepest layers of skin and provides hydration; sunscreen will sit on top of the skin.
  4. Some of the sunscreens leave a white cast on the skin. But moisturizers have no such.
  5. Moisturizers have been used long before sunscreen, as the first one was used in the year 1100. The first sunscreen was invented in 1932.
  6. A moisturizer can work as a sunscreen with an in-built SPF in it. But the sunscreens are mostly non-hydrating.


1. Can I skip moisturizer and use sunscreen instead?

If you have very oily skin and when the weather is not too dry, you can skip moisturizers and go straight to sunscreen.

2. Can I use sunscreen as a moisturizer?

You can use sunscreen as a moisturizer if it contains adequate moisture, which will skip the layering part.

3. How to apply sunscreen and moisturizer?

To apply sunscreen and moisturizer, start with the moisturizer and apply it gently with your hands. Wait till the product is all soaked up. Next, apply the sunscreen with a thick layer on top of it.

4. What should SPF face moisturizers be?

If you’re using a face moisturizer as a sunscreen, we recommend using one with SPF 30 or more.

5. Can I skip moisturizer and use sunscreen for oily skin?

You can do that if your sunscreen is a bit moisturizing. Or you can use a hydrating toner and go with the sunscreen, and you don’t have to layer a moisturizer.

Final thoughts

Sunscreen and moisturizers are both parts of a skincare regime that can not be forgotten, and these, along with a cleanser, are the basics of skin care. Another product that stands out is the SPF in the moisturizer. These products are for those who don’t want to pile up on many products in the morning. So you can just put on the moisturizer+sunscreen and leave the room. There have also been different products developed that have a high level of SPF. So, while combining a moisturizer with SPF and other makeup products with SPF will give the best result.

Key Points

  1. When using moisturizers with sunscreen, the moisturizer is applied first, followed by the sunscreen.
  2. Because most cleansers dehydrate the skin, a moisturizer will replenish it completely. A moisturizer might take the form of a lotion, cream, or oil.
  3. The basic role of sunscreen is to guarantee that UV rays are blocked and that the sun’s healing is completed.
  4. Moisturizers are generally utilized by ordinary people in the winter, whereas sunscreens are frequently used in the summer. However, these two goods should be available all year round.

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