Should I Apply Sunscreen Before or After Moisturizer

January 9th, 2012

Q: Many of my clients always ask me, “Which skin care product should I put on my face first? Moisturizer? Sunscreen? Serum?”

A: The answer is somewhat simple. Although, I prefer the latter, I will explain this one first. If you are using a chemical sunscreen, one that contains oxybenzone or avobenzone, then this should go on clean, bare skin first. Additionally, for us New York City women, always on the go, this could be a problem. You need to give this type of sunscreen time to be absorbed, at least 20 minutes because it must interact with skin cells in order to be effective. Apply a serum next and, finally, moisturizer if you need it. You can also use serums or sunscreens with moisturizers built in because they save time.

A sunscreen with a physical block like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide can be applied last, after a serum or moisturizer. This is because they act as reflectors and bounce the sun off your face. I would recommend using a light weight serum and then apply moisturizer if you need it.

Bottom line: Apply chemical sunscreens or serums that need to be absorbed first, barriers (like moisturizers, makeup, and physical block sunscreens) last. And if you are going to tan try my sunless tan.

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