When Should You Apply Sunscreen in Your Skincare Routine?

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It’s the age-old question: in what stage of your skincare routine should you apply sunscreen? Does it go before your moisturiser or after? Well, we’re here to help. To ensure your SPF is working correctly and protecting your lovely face from harmful UV rays, you have to layer products in a particular order.

Sunscreen should be used every day but is particularly important for us in Australia, considering we have one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world. It’s also a proven method of anti-ageing as UV exposure is responsible for 80 percent of visible facial ageing.

Experts agree that sunscreen should be applied *after* moisturiser. In fact, sunscreen should be the final product you use before applying makeup. Any skincare products you put over the top of SPF dilutes its efficiency and therefore doesn’t provide as much protection.

The time you leave between applying your moisturiser and sunscreen also matters. According to Dr Michele Squire, founder of personalised skincare consultancy brand, Qr8, you need to allow your last product to soak in for a while before going in with SPF.

“Sunscreen goes on LAST, after whatever skincare you put on underneath dries down,” Dr Squire wrote on Instagram. “This takes at least 8 minutes in lab studies (I do my hair whilst I wait). If you apply moisturiser straight over the top you will disturb the protective film that filters out UV. Ditto if you’re applying layers of oily/waxy things underneath and oils over the top of sunscreen.⁠⁠”

While waiting a whole eight minutes between moisturiser and sunscreen application seems like a long time, it’s worth the wait to make sure your SPF is doing a good job of protecting you.

As for how much sunscreen you should be using? Well, it can be hard to know as many SPF products encourage you to use it “liberally”. According to the Cancer Council, an adult should be wearing 5ml (roughly one teaspoon) of sunscreen for each arm, leg, body front, body back and face (including the neck and ears).

That’s one whole teaspoon just for your neck and face — seven teaspoons all up for a full-body application. If you’re unsure how much this is, try giving this helpful hack a go. Sunscreen should ideally be applied 20 minutes before exposure to the sun and reapplied every two hours. This can be difficult when wearing makeup, so we recommend following the method of scientist, SPF enthusiast and creative, Hannah English.

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