Sun Protection Cream: Underneath or over Your Day Cream?
I’ve written endless blogs about sun protection cream. Even so, I still receive questions on a daily basis, asking advice on the best way to use sun protection products. A frequently asked question is whether you should apply it over the top of, or simply underneath, your day cream. Today this “burning” question will be answered!
Sun protection creams can basically be categorised into chemical and physical filters. The physical filters form, as it were, a shell which reflects the sun’s rays. Physical filters act immediately when applied to the skin. Chemical filters penetrate the skin and there they absorb the sunlight. This has advantages and disadvantages; the advantage is that the chemical filters last somewhat longer, mineral filters can be wiped off more easily. Mineral filters also leave a white film on your skin. Chemical filters have a number of disadvantages too; some “more traditional” and poor chemical sun filters become ineffective after a while and may get into the bloodstream. There is also a higher risk of skin irritation or allergy with chemical filters than with physical filters. And it is not surprising then that those unsavoury chemical filters are usually the cheap filters! Most sun protection creams don’t belong to one single category but contain both chemical and mineral filters. There are also filters which fall within the category of both chemical and mineral filters, for example, Tinosorb. This filter, in my view, contains the best of both worlds.
Day cream first
Finally, the answer to your question. Contrary to what may often be read on the internet, it is better to first apply your Moisturizer, let this sink in properly and afterwards apply your sun protection cream. If you do this the other way around, the active substances in your Moisturizer won’t work; it is undoubtedly important that the anti-oxidants in your day cream are able to penetrate into the skin in order to neutralise free radicals. They can also protect your skin against the sun, which can still penetrate through your sun protection cream. There is an exception though; if you use a very thick cream which doesn’t sink in (such as Vaseline) and you have a sun protection cream which contains chemical filters, it is best to apply the sun cream first. In order to work, chemical filters need to come into contact with the skin, and a very thick layer of cream laying over your skin would make this difficult.
(Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)
You can also read the blogs:
‘A Good Sun Cream?’,
‘Help with Choosing Your Sun Cream‘,
‘Sun Cream: Only 25% of the SPF?’,
‘Moisturizer (2)’ and
‘Do Anti-Oxidants Also Really Work in a Cream?’.