Sunscreen vs. Moisturizer: Which is More Important?

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.

Sunscreen or Moisturizer. Both products have their own unique benefits, but when it comes to prioritizing one over the other, it can be difficult to decide. In this article, I’ll discuss which product you should be using first in your daily skincare routine.

Understanding The Difference Between Sunscreen And Moisturizer

Sunscreen and moisturizer are two essential products in any skincare routine, each serving distinct purposes. Sunscreen is specifically designed to protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, helping to prevent sunburn, skin aging, and potential skin cancers. It forms a protective barrier on the skin, reflecting or absorbing the sun’s rays to minimize damage. On the other hand, moisturizer is aimed at hydrating and nourishing the skin, helping to maintain its natural moisture balance and prevent dryness.


As someone who spends a lot of time outdoors, I know how important it is to protect my skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Sunscreen is an essential part of any skincare routine, but it can be confusing to know which type to use and how to apply it correctly. In this section, I will explain the basics of sunscreen and how to use it effectively.


1. UV Protection

The sun emits two types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can damage your skin: UVA and UVB. UVA rays can cause premature aging, while UVB rays can cause sunburns. Both types of radiation can increase your risk of skin cancer. Sunscreen works by absorbing or reflecting these harmful rays.

2. SPF Ratings

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a measure of how well a sunscreen protects against UVB radiation. The higher the SPF, the more protection it provides. For example, an SPF 30 sunscreen will block about 97% of UVB rays, while an SPF 50 sunscreen will block about 98% of UVB rays. It’s important to note that no sunscreen can block 100% of UVB rays.

3. Application and Reapplication

To get the most protection from your sunscreen, you need to apply it correctly. Experts recommend using about one ounce (a shot glass full) of sunscreen for each application. Apply it to all exposed skin, including your face, neck, and ears. Don’t forget to apply it to your lips and the top of your feet.

It’s also important to reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating. Even waterproof sunscreens can wear off, so it’s essential to reapply regularly. If you’re using a combination moisturizer and sunscreen, be sure to apply enough to get the full SPF protection.


Moisturizers are an essential part of a skincare routine, especially when your skin’s protective barrier is weak or lacks sufficient hydration.¹ In this section, I will explain the benefits of moisturizing, how it helps maintain skin barrier function, and the different types of moisturizers available.


1. Hydration Benefits

Moisturizers help keep your skin healthy and tackle dryness-related problems. They work by adding moisture to the skin and preventing water loss.² Hydrated skin looks plump, youthful, and radiant. It also helps prevent the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.

2. Skin Barrier Function

Moisturizers also play a crucial role in maintaining the skin barrier function. The skin barrier is the outermost layer of the skin that protects against environmental stressors, such as pollution, UV rays, and bacteria.³ When the skin barrier is compromised, it can lead to dryness, irritation, and inflammation. Moisturizers help strengthen the skin barrier and prevent damage.

3.Types of Moisturizers

There are different types of moisturizers available, including creams, lotions, and serums. Creams are thicker and provide more hydration, making them ideal for dry skin. Lotions are lighter and more suitable for oily or combination skin. Serums are lightweight and deliver active ingredients deep into the skin.⁴ It’s important to choose a moisturizer that suits your skin type and concerns.

Comparing Importance

When it comes to skincare, both sunscreen and moisturizer are important. They serve different purposes and can work together to provide optimal skin health and protection. In this section, I will compare the importance of sunscreen and moisturizer from two perspectives: skin health and environmental considerations.

Comparing Importance

Skin Health Perspectives

Sunscreen and moisturizer play different roles in maintaining healthy skin. Sunscreen protects the skin from harmful UV rays, which can cause sunburn, premature aging, and even skin cancer. On the other hand, moisturizer helps to hydrate the skin and keep it soft and supple. It also helps to protect the skin’s natural barrier function, which can be compromised by environmental factors, such as pollution and harsh weather conditions.

While both sunscreen and moisturizer are important for skin health, the order in which they are applied can affect their is best to apply sunscreen after moisturizer, as this allows the moisturizer to fully absorb into the skin and provide a better base for the sunscreen.

Environmental Considerations

In addition to protecting the skin from UV rays, sunscreen can also help to protect the environment. Certain chemicals found in some sunscreens can harm coral reefs and other marine life. It is important to choose a sunscreen that is reef-safe and does not contain harmful chemicals, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate.

Moisturizer can also have environmental impacts, depending on the ingredients it contains. Some moisturizers contain microplastics, which can contribute to plastic pollution in the oceans. It is important to choose a moisturizer that does not contain microplastics and is environmentally friendly.

Overall, both sunscreen and moisturizer are important for maintaining healthy skin. They serve different purposes and can work together to provide optimal skin health and protection. When choosing sunscreen and moisturizer, it is important to consider both skin health and environmental factors.

Synergy of Sunscreen and Moisturizer

I know that both sunscreen and moisturizer are essential in any skincare routine. While they each have their unique benefits, the combination of both can create a synergistic effect that can improve the overall health and appearance of the skin.

Synergy of Sunscreen and Moisturizer

Layering Products

One of the most effective ways to incorporate both sunscreen and moisturizer into your routine is by layering them. it is recommended to apply sunscreen after moisturizer. This is because moisturizer can help create a barrier between the skin and the sunscreen, preventing any potential irritation or clogging of pores.

When layering products, it is important to choose the right formulations. Look for a moisturizer that is lightweight and non-greasy, as heavy creams can interfere with the effectiveness of the sunscreen. On the other hand, a sunscreen that is too thick can make it difficult for the moisturizer to penetrate the skin.

Formulations with Dual Purposes

Another option is to use formulations that have dual purposes. For example, there are moisturizers that contain SPF, which can provide both hydration and sun protection. This can be a great option for those who are short on time or prefer a simpler routine.

When choosing a moisturizer with SPF, it is important to check the SPF rating and ensure that it provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. Additionally, it is still recommended to reapply sunscreen every two hours, even if your moisturizer contains SPF.

Factors Influencing Choice

When it comes to choosing between sunscreen and moisturizer, several factors come into play. Here are some of the key factors that can influence your choice:

Factors Influencing Choice

Skin Type

Your skin type is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing between sunscreen and moisturizer. If you have dry skin, you may need a heavier moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated and prevent flakiness. On the other hand, if you have oily or acne-prone skin, you may prefer a lighter moisturizer or one that is specifically formulated for oily skin.

When it comes to sunscreen, different skin types may require different types of sunscreen. For example, if you have sensitive skin, you may want to choose a mineral-based sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These ingredients are less likely to irritate your skin than chemical sunscreens.

Climate and Exposure

The climate and level of sun exposure in your area can also influence your choice between sunscreen and moisturizer. If you live in a hot, sunny climate, you may need a stronger sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you may also need to reapply sunscreen more frequently.

If you live in a colder climate or spend most of your time indoors, you may not need as much sunscreen.Still,you may still need a moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated in dry indoor environments.

Personal Preferences

Finally, your personal preferences can also play a role in your choice between sunscreen and moisturizer. Some people prefer to use a separate sunscreen and moisturizer, while others prefer a combination product. Some people may also prefer a certain texture or scent in their skincare products.

Ultimately, the choice between sunscreen and moisturizer depends on your individual needs and preferences. However, by considering factors such as your skin type, climate, and personal preferences, you can make an informed decision that will help keep your skin healthy and protected.

Personal Recommendations

I recommend using both sunscreen and moisturizer in your daily skincare routine. However, if you have to choose between the two, sunscreen is more important.

Personal Recommendations

1. Dermatological Advice

Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is the easiest way to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays. Sun damage can cause premature aging, dark spots, and even skin cancer. Therefore, applying sunscreen should be a non-negotiable part of your daily routine, regardless of the weather or season.

On the other hand, moisturizer is important for maintaining healthy and hydrated skin. It helps to prevent dryness, flakiness, and irritation. However, moisturizer alone cannot protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Therefore, it is important to use sunscreen in addition to moisturizer.

2. Long-term Skin Care

Using sunscreen regularly can help prevent premature aging and reduce the risk of skin cancer. It is important to use sunscreen every day, even if you are indoors or it is cloudy outside. UV rays can penetrate through windows and clouds, which means that your skin is still at risk of damage.

In the long run, using both sunscreen and moisturizer can help keep your skin looking healthy and youthful. Remember to apply sunscreen first, and then moisturizer to ensure that both products are absorbed properly. Additionally, choose a moisturizer with SPF to provide extra protection for your skin

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.

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