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What to apply first moisturizer, sunscreen, or makeup? Get your sequence right!

what to apply first moisturizer or sunscreen


Ever stared at your dressing mirror, wondering: what should be applied first, sunscreen, moisturizer or makeup?

If yes, you are not alone. Navigating through skincare and makeup routines can feel like solving a complex puzzle that comes with no manual, especially when it comes to the right order. Rightly so, as incorrect order can impact the effectiveness of the products as well as the routine!

But not anymore!

If you have always been confused about skincare routine order and wondered what comes first: makeup, sunscreen, or moisturizer, here is a simple guide.

Here is a quick guide on the right skincare order, but first, let’s start with the basics.

What is a moisturizer, and why do you need one in your skincare routine?

Moisturizers are oil or water-based creams, lotions, balms, or ointments that contain emollients and are formulated to hydrate your skin by increasing its water content.

Moisturizers prevent moisture loss in your skin while forming a protective layer against environmental stress.

Let's look at the benefits of moisturizers and face creams that make them an integral part of your routine.

1. Keeps skin hydrated

Moisturizer helps your skin retain and hold moisture within it. It helps boost skin hydration, keeps your skin plump, and improves skin resilience.

2. Strengthens the skin barrier

Your skin barrier is like a shield, protecting your skin from outside environmental aggressors and pollution. Moisturizer helps build up and strengthen this barrier, making your skin less susceptible to irritation and environmental damage.

3. Combats dryness

Dryness can make your skin look dull, flaky, and rough, causing irritation and itch. A moisturizer helps your skin fight dryness, leaving your skin feeling soft, smooth, and healthy.

4. Promotes suppleness

Applying moisturizer twice daily helps maintain your skin's natural elasticity and radiance. Moreover, it also fights signs of aging, keeping your skin youthful and healthy.

However, it's important to use a moisturizer suitable for your skin type and weather. Explore these moisturizers that are suitable for all skin types and concerns.

What are sunscreens, and why do you need one?

Sunscreens are topical product that protects your skin against UVA and UVB rays of the sun. You must apply sunscreens every day, irrespective of the season or weather.

Here are some benefits of sunscreen that make it indispensable for your skin routine.

1. Blocks the harmful rays

Sunscreen protects your skin from harmful UV rays, preventing issues like sunburns, tanning, uneven pigmentation, and redness.

2. Keeps your youthful

Sunscreen application helps slow down the signs of aging, preventing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines on your skin. It is one of the easiest ways to stay youthful and glowing, naturally.

3. Protects your health

Exposure to prolonged UV rays can damage the DNA in your cells, causing severe damage and even skin cancer. Regular sunscreen application creates a barrier against these harmful rays, preventing them from penetrating your skin layers reducing the risk of skin cancer.

However, its crucial to apply a moisturizer in the right way. Learn more here.

Look for sunscreen that has an SPF of 35 and more, PA+++ and is lightweight, non-sticky sunscreen without leaving a white cast. Explore the following sunscreens for your skin.

Now that you know the importance of sunscreen and moisturizer for your skin, let’s learn the right skincare order.

What is the right skincare order? What should you apply first?

Sunscreens form a protective layer over your skin, creating a barrier between the sun and your skin. Therefore, as a thumb rule, you must apply sunscreen as the last step of your skincare routine after a hydrating moisturizer.

After applying your moisturizer, wait for 2 minutes to allow it to penetrate your skin, and then follow up with a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Moreover, ensure that you apply the required amount of sunscreen on your face and neck and reapply it every 3-4 hours, depending on your activity.

What are moisturizers and makeup with SPF? Are they enough for sun protection?

SPF moisturizers are known to contain the benefits of both moisturizer and sunscreen, offering a convenient two-in-one solution. However, as they are not specifically formulated for sun protection, their SPF potency may be diluted by moisturizing ingredients.

Therefore, relying solely on SPF moisturizers for sun protection is not recommended. It can diminish sun protection and cause skin damage, especially for prolonged outdoor exposure.

Similarly, even if you apply makeup products infused with SPF, there is no substitute for sunscreen. Before applying your foundation and base makeup, ensure your sunscreen is completely absorbed in your face and neck.

What about makeup? Should you apply them before or after sunscreen?

While you apply your skincare products in the correct order, you must do the same for makeup too.

Makeup is entirely different from skincare and isn’t a part of the latter.

Therefore, the rule stays the same where sunscreen comes as the last step of skincare but before makeup.

Ideally, it is suggested to apply makeup on cleansed and nourished skin. Therefore, complete your skincare routine with face wash, toner, moisturizer and sunscreen. Allow them to absorb in your skin completely and then proceed with makeup application.

The right order for your skincare routine

While discussing the skin routine order, let's look at it in totality. There are many products apart from sunscreen and moisturizer that can help you get a healthy and flawless skin, provided they are applied in the right manner and order.

Following is the right order of layering your skincare products.

  1. Cleansing balm/ cleansing oil/ micellar water- Whether you apply makeup or not, double cleansing can significantly transform your skin. Cleanse your skin of all the dirt, grime, and pollution with a cleansing balm or oil-based emulsion as the first step.

  2. Face cleanser - Follow up with a non-drying, gentle face wash suitable for your skin type. Massage it in a circular motion for at least 60 seconds to thoroughly cleanse your skin.

  3. Toner - Balance the pH level of your skin by applying a hydrating toner.

  4. Serum - Use a serum with active ingredients best suited for your skin concerns such as acne, dry, dehydrated skin, blemishes, etc.

  5. Face oil - Massage your skin with a face oil for extra hydration, especially if you have dry skin.

  6. Moisturizer - Follow up with a moisturizer. If it is a PM routine, you can replace it with a night mask for overnight hydration.

  7. Sunscreen - For your morning routine, protect your skin with sunscreen.

Follow up with your base foundation once your sunscreen/ moisturizer is completely absorbed.

Now that you know the right skincare routine to apply your skincare and makeup products, you can create a routine that works best for you. Remember to be consistent with your routine and use products that are suitable for your skin type. With a little effort, you can achieve healthy, glowing skin!


Q 1. Should you put moisturizer or sunscreen before makeup?

Sunscreen works best when it is applied to a clean, moisturized face. Therefore, it is suggested to cleanse your face, apply moisturizer and sunscreen, and then proceed with your base makeup for the best results.

Q 2. What goes on first, moisturizer or sunscreen?

Sunscreen forms a layer over your skin obstructing the harmful UV rays. But it is necessary to hydrate your face first. Therefore, apply sunscreen as the last step of your skincare routine after applying moisturizer.

Q 3. Can you skip moisturizer before sunscreen?

No, as hydrating as sunscreen can claim to be, it is always advised to lock in the moisture in your skin using a moisturizer before following up with sunscreen.

Q 4. How long after sunscreen application should you apply makeup?

Apply sunscreen 15-20 minutes before stepping out in the sun. Wait for 2-5 minutes to allow it to get absorbed into your skin before applying your base makeup.

Q 5. Can you apply sunscreen over makeup?

Typically, you must apply sunscreen and then follow up with makeup. However, if you are reapplying sunscreen during the day, follow up with a sunscreen application over the makeup to protect your skin against sun damage.

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