Why Mixing Sunscreen and Lotion Isn't a Good Idea

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Sunscreen isn't just for days spent sunbathing on the beach. It's important to wear SPF daily, even on a cloudy day.

If you already wear a daily moisturizer and want to up your sun safety game by sporting sunscreen, you might be tempted to mix the two together. Moisturizer and sunscreen share the same consistency, so combining them is harmless, right? Wrong.

Woman applying cream to face
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It's actually not recommended that sunscreen is mixed with a moisturizer, or any other beauty product for that matter, especially prior to application. The chemical ingredients in each product may not react well to one another, which raises a few concerns.

For starters, the chemical cocktail could cause a skin rash or other forms of skin irritation. Additionally, the chemicals in the products may degrade the key, active ingredients when combined, which might make the sunscreen or the moisturizer less effective.

You can kill two birds with one stone by using a moisturizer that already contains SPF.

Save Time With an SPF Moisturizer

Applying a moisturizer with SPF will save you some time during your morning routine. Moisturizers that have built-in SPF are usually less expensive than buying a moisturizer and sunscreen separately, as well.

SPF moisturizers are available at every price point. You can find them at drugstores and department stores.

However, SPF moisturizers, like all personal care products, aren't one-size-fits-all. A product that works for you might not necessarily work for someone else.

Finding the right SPF moisturizer might take some trial and error, but you can save yourself time and money by figuring out your skin type first. Then you'll know what ingredients to look for and which ones to avoid.

Using Separate Sunscreen and Moisturizer

If you aren't keen on a 2-in-1 product, know that you should always apply sunscreen first, then moisturizer. The first layer should always be sunscreen.

Apply it to a clean, dry face and allow it to sink into your skin for a few minutes before applying your moisturizer and makeup, if applicable. Product application is as follows:

  1. Cleanse
  2. Tone
  3. Apply SPF
  4. Apply serum and/or moisturizer

Key Benefit of SPF Moisturizer

The skin on your face is different from the skin on the rest of your body. Your average bottle of sunscreen isn't formulated for the face.

Think about sunscreen application: it's greasy and it leaves a residue on the skin. You probably don't want your face to feel that way, too.

In addition to saving time and money, a major benefit of SPF moisturizer is that it's formulated for your face. It provides the sun protection you need without clogging your pores or making your skin feel greasy.

SPF moisturizers typically offer benefits in addition to sun protection. For example, the Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer in SPF 30 offers broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection and may help improve skin tone and texture.

Picking the Right SPF

It's well established how important it is to protect our skin from sun damage, but the science behind SPF isn't made easy for everyday consumers to understand.

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It protects against UVB radiation, the rays that burn. UVB is only a fragment of the spectrum, though. The sun also emits UVA radiation, which are the rays that age.

SPF only protects against UVB radiation, but UVA radiation is just as dangerous. In order to get the most comprehensive sun protection possible, you must use a sunblock or sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection.

Nowadays, most sunscreens tout broad-spectrum protection right on the label, so finding an effective SPF moisturizer is easy.

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6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Skin cancer. Updated May 7, 2020.

  2. Cancer Council. Sunscreen reactions.

  3. Skin Cancer Foundation. Making your sunscreen work with your makeup. Updated January 9, 2018.

  4. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Sunscreen FAQs.

  5. Shanbhag S, Nayak A, Narayan R, Nayak UY. Anti-aging and sunscreens: paradigm shift in cosmeticsAdv Pharm Bull. 2019;9(3):348-359. doi:10.15171/apb.2019.042

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sun safety. Updated April 9, 2020.