You've probably come across moisturizers that contain SPF, or perhaps you've tried to create one at home by mixing sunscreen into your day cream. This sounds like an attractive solution to moisturizing and applying sunscreen all in one go — especially if you have busy mornings or prefer simple skin care routines. So, you might be wondering, "Can I mix my moisturizer and sunscreen?" Surely this saves time and gets both jobs done in one fell swoop, right?
This reasoning seems logical, but applying your moisturizer and sunscreen separately is the best way to get the most out of your skin and sun care products.
Skin Care vs. Sun Care
Skin care and sun care go hand-in-hand. Both families of products have similar goals—optimize your skin in the short term and preserve its health in the long run—but they function in different ways.
According to Verywell Health, moisturizers and sunscreens have different chemical profiles. Therefore, they should be applied separately to avoid negative reactions like skin rashes and irritation. Not to mention that mixing your facial cream with your sunscreen could make both products less effective if the ingredients lists don't agree with each other. Mixing your products into one cocktail also dilutes their strength, essentially making both less effective. Assume you slather on as much home-mixed sunscreen-moisturizer combo as your skin will take without becoming unreasonably wet and greasy feeling. Even then, it's only half the amount of sunscreen that it feels like.
But, you may be wondering, can I mix my moisturizer and sunscreen by opting for a face cream with built-in SPF? This would ensure that the 2-in-1 product is chemically balanced, with moisturizing ingredients and sun protection ingredients all formulated to mix well, right?
Technically, you can do two jobs at once by purchasing a product formulated to both moisturize and protect from ultraviolet rays. However, this has some drawbacks. Sunscreen is formulated to act as a protective shield on the outside of the skin, whereas a moisturizer is formulated to penetrate deep into the skin. Combining the two means that neither is doing its job to its full potential. Further, you won't be able to adjust the amounts for a particular day. Ultimately, it may be better to take the single-use product approach.
Proper Sunscreen Application
In order to reap the full benefits of both your moisturizer and sunscreen, make sure to properly layer your skin care products. When applying, give the underlying layers a couple of minutes to soak in and dry before sealing in your whole routine with a trusted broad-spectrum sunscreen. This should be the final step of most daytime skin care routines.
Applying sunscreen on its own like this ensures that you are getting the protection the product promises. Again, mixing sunscreen into your moisturizer dilutes the SPF, increasing your susceptibility to sunburn and other long-term effects.
You should also avoid mixing two different sunscreens for similar reasons. Mixing different sunscreen ingredients, such as chemical SPF and mineral SPF, can result in a negative interaction between them. Not only can this make the sun protection less effective, but you may also experience side effects like irritation and burning.
So, can I mix my moisturizer and sunscreen after all? Yes, you can buy highly effective 2-in-1 products, but if you do go this route, make sure the hybrid product you choose is first and foremost a sunscreen.
When in doubt, apply your moisturizer (and all other skin care products, for that matter) separately from your broad-spectrum sunscreen. This will allow both products to fully perform their respective jobs—moisturizing and sun protection—to their best ability.