Can You Mix Sunscreen with Moisturizer?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

I did it all the time when I was younger. I thought I was so clever, too.

Most sunscreens back then were so thick, they’d turn my face into a greasy, shiny pan… or Caspar The Ghost. You’d think someone as pale as me wouldn’t even notice the white cast some sunscreens leave behind. Oh boy, you’re wrong…

ishonest No.171 - Pre-Sun Exposure

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No.171 - Pre-Sun Exposure

Mixing a few drops of sunscreen with my fave moisturizer seemed like the perfect solution. I’d get sun protection without all the aesthetic side effects. Plus, I’d cut my skincare routine shorter to boot.

If you’re thinking, “That’s a great idea, why haven’t I thought of that myself?,” I’ve got bad news for you. Mixing your sunscreen with moisturizer is a crappy idea. Here’s why:

What Happens When You Mix Sunscreen With Moisturizer?

Mixing sunscreen with moisturizer seems such an innocent thing. But two nasty things happen when you force them to mingle so close together:

  1. You’re diluting your sunscreen: Think about it. To get the SPF level stated on the packaging, you need to apply 1/2 teaspoon on your face. If you mix your sunscreen with your moisturizer (or any other skincare product, for that matter) there’s no way you can apply that much. You could be turning a SPF30 into an SPF15 or lower!
  2. Conflict of ingredients: Sunscreens are delicate things. Some of the ingredients in your moisturizer or foundation may compromise their UV filters, making them less effective.

Translation: when you’re mixing sunscreen with moisturizer, lotion, serum or whatever, you’re compromising its effectiveness.

Can You Mix Sunscreen With Moisturizer?

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Mixing your sunscreen with moisturizer, foundation or lotion may seem like the perfect solution to all your sunscreen problems, but in reality, it does your skin more harm than good.

When you’re mixing them together, you’re compromising the effectiveness of your sunscreen, leaving your skin prone to sun damage, wrinkles and dark spots. Not a risk worth taking, is it?

What About Foundation, BB Cream, And Other Skincare And Makeup Products?

I’ve already touched on this above, but I’ll say it again just to make sure: you CAN’T mix sunscreen with anything.

You can’t mix sunscreen with lotion.

ishonest No.172 - Pre-Sun Exposure

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No.172 - Pre-Sun Exposure

You can’t mix sunscreen with foundation.

You can’t mix sunscreen with primer.

You can’t mix sunscreen with serum.

You can’t mix sunscreen with BB Cream (or CC Cream).

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I’d even be wary of mixing sunscreen with another sunscreen (not all UV filters play well together).

Use sunscreen alone, on top of moisturizer, serum, or clean skin. Wait 15 minutes to give it time to settle and then apply makeup on top (if you don’t wait for it to settle, you’ll just rub it right off!).

The Bottom Line

Mixing sunscreen with moisturizer, lotion or any other products may seem like a good idea, but it’s anything but. You’ll just dilute the SPF and compromise the effectiveness of the sunscreen.

Have you ever mixed your sunscreen with lotion or foundation? Share your experience in the comments below.

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