How Protective Is Your SPF Moisturizer?
Your facial skin is more delicate than the skin on the rest of your body. It’s also far more susceptible to the detrimental effects of the sun’s UV rays. That’s why sunscreen is such an essential part of a conscientious skincare routine. If you’ve been using a daily moisturizer or foundation with an SPF of 15 or more, you’re on the right track. Yet, it’s important to realize that these products may not be delivering the level of protection you might expect. Confused? You’re not alone.
Many people mistakenly believe that using an SPF moisturizer in the morning protects their skin throughout the day. But that’s not how sun protection works. When you’re serious about protecting your skin, you don’t want to let your SPF moisturizer give you a false sense of security. Instead, listen to the experts. Many dermatologists recommend using sun protection as the final step in your skincare routine, a product best applied after moisturizing.1,2
Why Is Daily UV Protection So Important?
The SPF sprays, creams, and lotions you apply today help keep your skin vibrant, youthful, and healthy in the future. Not only are you reducing your risk of skin cancer, UV exposure causes as much as 80% of visible skin aging. That means your diligence, your commitment to using sunscreen daily, helps prevent wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin.3
If you’ve been saving your sunblock for weekends at the beach, it may be time to rethink your strategy. The effects of UV damage are cumulative. While you’re somewhat protected from UVB rays on cloudy days, the sun’s UVA rays are present during all daylight hours. The intensity is the same year-round, hot or cold, rain or shine.4
Staying indoors is no guarantee that your skin is protected. Windows block UVB rays but allow UVA rays to shine through. That’s why so many skin experts recommend using broad-spectrum protection daily, sunscreens that block UVA and UVB rays. Most recommend using at least an SPF 15 when planning for a day indoors and a minimum of SPF 30 when spending time outside.5
What Does the SPF on Sunscreen and Moisturizer Labels Mean?
SPF stands for sun protection factor. The higher the number, the greater your level of protection. However, contrary to popular belief, that number after the “SPF” has little bearing on how long your protection lasts. Sun protection factors indicate how well the product protects your skin from UVB rays, the type of solar energy that causes redness and sunburn. UVB radiation is not as consistent as UVA. Exposure levels can vary by time of day, cloud cover, and geographic location.6
Although using an SPF moisturizer or sunscreen temporarily increases the amount of UVB radiation your skin can withstand, there’s a catch. Once the active ingredients interact with solar energy, they’re depleted, used up. That’s why all sun protection products, including SPF moisturizers, need to be reapplied every two hours.
Do Higher SPF Levels Provide Better Protection?
SPF levels do have an impact on how well your skin is protected. When used as directed, an SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 93% of the sun’s UVB rays. That means the remaining 7% still penetrate the surface of your skin. SPF 30 formulas provide significantly more protection, 97%. SPF 50 and SPF 70 products each block 98% of the sun’s UVB rays.7
Although the 1% difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50+ seems rather small, that single percentage point represents a 50% increase in UV protection. But the numbers tell only part of the story. All sun protection products require liberal use and frequent application.
Do SPF Moisturizers Provide Enough Protection?
Using a moisturizer with SPF can be protective. However, several studies suggest that most people don’t apply SPF moisturizers liberally enough to ensure adequate coverage. That’s not too surprising. It takes about a nickel-sized dollop to cover most faces heavily enough for the active ingredients to do their job.8 That’s a lot of moisturizer, more than most people need to keep their complexion smooth, supple, and hydrated.
Since a single application of moisturizer in the morning helps keeps skin comfortable and flake-free, many people also overlook the need for frequent reapplication. Some mistakenly assume their skin remains protected all day; others decide not to reapply after topping off their moisturizer too often causes skin irritation, clogged pores, or breakouts.
Many Dermatologists Recommend Applying SPF After Moisturizing
Although using a double-duty moisturizer might simplify your morning, many dermatologists urge people to think twice before swapping their sunscreen for an SPF moisturizer. Instead, most recommend using a dedicated sunscreen as the final step in a basic skincare routine. To get the most benefit from each product in your skincare lineup, first, cleanse and tone your skin. Then apply your serums and protect your complexion with a moisturizer. Wait a minute or two for your products to absorb, then apply your sunscreen.
During the day, reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours. If you’re hesitant to reapply over your makeup, consider investing in an SPF 30 spray or brush-on mineral powder.
To protect the rest of your body, apply your sunscreen liberally after you moisturize but before getting dressed. To ensure adequate coverage, plan on using 1-1.5 ounces of sunscreen for each application, about twice as much as most people think they need. Reapply every 2 hours to exposed skin regardless of product strength.
Selecting the Best SPF Product for Your Skin Care Needs
There are two basic types of sun care products, chemical and mineral. Both increase the amount of exposure your skin can endure safely, but they work differently. Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays, convert their energy to heat, and release the heat from your skin. You’ll need to apply your sunscreen 15-30 minutes before sun exposure to give the active ingredients time to absorb into your skin.
Although chemical sunscreens are highly effective when used as directed, some commonly used active ingredients are known to cause skin irritation, increase the risk of hyperpigmentation, and harm aquatic life.9,10 If any of those issues concern you, consider investing in a physical sunscreen, a mineral-based product.
Mineral sunscreens protect your skin with natural ingredients, usually a combination of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The minerals form a physical barrier that blocks UV absorption while reflecting solar energy away from your skin. Mineral-based products are less likely to clog pores or cause irritation than chemical sunscreens, so they’re a great option for anyone looking for skin-friendly, natural UV protection.
Is SPF the Final Step in Your BOTA™ Skincare Routine?
It’s quite natural to assume the products you’re using to care for your skin are made with ingredients proven safe for their intended use. Yet far too many have never been evaluated for long-term use. Of those that have been tested, many are shown to cause more skin issues than they solve.11 If you’re concerned about some of the many ways synthetic ingredients could be affecting your skin, maybe it’s time to consider using natural skin care products made with time-tested plant oils and extracts.
BOTA™ plant-powered toners, serums, and moisturizers are made without artificial fragrances, parabens, or other potentially harmful ingredients. As the full-spectrum hemp-derived CBD in our botanical formulas penetrates the surface of your skin, the cannabinoids interact with important receptors found on nearly every type of skin cell, including the receptors regulating moisture balance, skin cell formation, cellular renewal, and collagen synthesis.
To learn more about nurturing, protecting, and reviving your skin naturally, visit BOTA™ hemp to view our Complete Guide to Natural Skin Care. Then take a look at our collection of CBD skincare products formulated for face and body. All BOTA™ CBD skincare products are gluten-free, vegan-friendly, third-party tested, and US Hemp Authority™ certified.
1. Consumer Reports. S Wadyka. (2019 April 03) Will Moisturizers with SPF Protect Your Skin?
2. Southern Living. P Ormont Blumberg (2018 June 06) Are You Putting on Face Sunscreen on Entirely Wrong?
3. IMSociety. S Eades. (2021) Photoaging: Skin Aging Due to UV Rays: How to Avoid It.
4. Healthline. C Vandergriendt. (What’s the Difference Between UVA and UVB Rays?
5. Allure. K Fasanella. (2020 March 25) Here’s Why You Still Need to Wear Sunscreen Indoors, According to Dermatologists.
6. FDA. (2017 July 14) Sun Protection Factor (SPF).
7. Livescience. K Grifantini (2010 June 25) How Does Sunscreen Work?
8. Skin Cancer Foundation. (2019 February 20) Ask the Expert: How Much Sunscreen Should I Be Using on My Face and Body?
9. The Zoe Report. H Baxter (2021 June 21) Your Top 10 “Burning” Sun Care Questions Answered.
10. Snorkel Around the World. A Szaszi. (2021) Harmful Ingredients in Sunscreen – Ocean Safe Sun Care Products Guide.
11. Treehugger. (2014 June 23) Everything You Need to Know About Natural Skin Care.