Ask any skin expert and they’ll advise you to include a minimum of three steps to your simple skincare routine. Other than the obvious cleanser, the simplest and beginner-friendly regime must include topical application of sunscreen and a moisturiser. These three steps are known as the most crucial steps for all skin types and skin conditions.
But the topical application of moisturiser and sunscreen can be confusing in terms of the order of their application. Using them in an incorrect order does not necessarily have an ill effect but it may hinder the product’s benefits.
So what comes first-a sunscreen or a moisturiser? Before we dive into the details, let us pause to understand the importance of sunscreen and moisturisers.
The ‘What and Why’ of Sunscreen
Every dermatologist you meet will speak on the importance of sunscreen and there is a good reason for that. Exposure to UV rays can severely damage your skin causing premature ageing, wrinkles and fine lines, loss of skin elasticity, hyperpigmentation, making it thick and leathery or even thin. Moreover, it also increases the risk of skin cancer.
When looking to protect your skin from harmful UV exposure, sunscreen is your best bet. Sunscreen is known to shield your skin from harsh sun rays and protect it from UV-related damage.
Experts suggest using sunscreen with SPF40 or higher. SPF in sunscreen stands for the sun protection factor and helps to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
A sunscreen with SPF15 blocks only about 93 percent of the UV rays and with SPF40 and above, it blocks up to 97-98 percent of the harmful rays. The difference may not seem much, but in the long term, even this limited exposure can make a negative difference to your skin.
All You Need to Know About Moisturisers
Dermatologists consider moisturisers as important as sunscreen. Moisturisers are season specific but should be used every day for healthy and hydrated skin. Believe it or not, moisturiser doesn’t only give you well-moisturised skin but also plays a crucial role in preventing anti-inflammation, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, relieving skin conditions like acne, eczema and promoting wound healing.
Speaking of acne, using a moisturiser opens our skin pores and prevents excess production of sebum as well as the cumulation of dirt in the pores. It also influences the elasticity of the skin promoting younger-looking and healthy skin. They also assist in repairing the skin barrier and prevent or treat trans-epidermal water loss of the skin improving the overall appearance of the skin.
Before selecting a good moisturiser, it is helpful to understand the types of moisturisers available. Moisturisers generally come in three types, humectants, emollients and occlusives.
Humectant moisturisers are most common and are loved by skin experts due to their replenishing and re-hydrating qualities. These work by drawing moisture to the top skin layer either from the outer environment or from deeper layers of the outer skin. These also work to hydrate oily skin but without adding any greasy content.
Emollients hydrate and lubricate the cracks on the skin. These work by repairing the skin barrier and restoring the lipids.
And finally, occlusives are the most intense and heavy form of moisturisers that work by building a physical barrier on the skin. These make it almost impossible for the skin to lose water due to its protective shield. These are generally found as petroleum jelly, beeswax and mineral oils.
SkinQ Suggests: Moisture Balm is formulated with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, etc. prevents dehydration, dryness and repairs skin barrier.
What Comes First?
When it comes to sunscreen, it is an ever confusing question of whether to apply it before or after the moisturiser. Our answer to this question lies in the function of sunscreen.
Unlike moisturiser, sunscreen isn’t formulated to be absorbed by the skin, rather it acts as a protective shield. And thus, sunscreen should be applied after the moisturiser - to be more precise, it should be the last step in your skincare routine.
SkinQ Suggests: Sun Protect Gel: SPF40 with Vitamin C formulated especially for Indian skin, it can be reapplied on make-up without any issues.
For added protection from the harmful UV rays, SkinQ’s Vitamin C Glow Serum should be applied before sunscreen. It has proven to reduce tanning with long-term use, melasma, hyperpigmentation and leaves you with hydrated skin.
Usage and Tips
- Debunking the popular myth that dark skin is self-protective against the harmful UV rays, all skin, regardless of skin tone, needs sunscreen to block exposure to the ultraviolet rays. But it is true that a lighter skin tone requires added protection of the sunscreen to shield from extrinsic factors like sun radiation.
- Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, sunscreen is always non-negotiable.
- It should be applied on all body areas that are exposed to the sun including your neck, hands and feet.
- Keep a time gap of at least 15 to 20 minutes before the application of sunscreen after moisturising.
- Apply the sunscreen for at least 20 minutes before being exposed to direct sunlight.
- Make sure the sunscreen is of SPF40 or above. Though the number of SPF should not affect its re-application.
- Sunscreen should be reapplied after every 2 - 3 hours. But if reapplying on other skin or beauty products, a physical sunscreen is the best option as chemical sunscreen would not be as effective when followed after other products.
Applying sunscreen before other products is not necessarily a smart move. Moisturisers, serums, face oils, etc. are to be absorbed by your skin whereas sunscreen is only to protect your skin rather than being absorbed by the skin. An application of sunscreen prior to other products will make the other products useless. So unless you’re okay with flushing the other products down the drain, sunscreen as the last step of skincare is the best suitable option.
While sunscreen is the best shield you can use to protect yourself from harmful UV exposure, you should still make sure to practice other protective steps like covering skin whenever possible, avoiding outdoors or direct exposure at peak times like 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm. It is always better safe than sorry, and when it's about your skin no efforts are ever wasted.