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What step should sunscreen be in your skincare routine?

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Google “how to layer your skincare”, and you will get thousands of results telling you exactly in which order to apply your products. While there is some wiggle room between the middle steps (it’s up to you and your skin type, such as whether to use retinol before or after moisturizer), the beginning and end of the routine are all the time Same thing: Cleanser comes first and sunscreen is the last thing you do before you walk out the door in the morning. But according to derms, we can have been living an SPF lie.

It depends on what type of SPF you use when you need to apply it. As you probably know, there are two different kinds of things out there, and each of them works in a completely different way. And that also means applying them at two completely different points in your routine. Want to know more? Here’s what you need to know

What is the difference between chemical and mineral SPFs?

Think of chemical sunscreens like a sponge, once these formulas sink into the skin, they absorb and break down the sun’s rays so your skin stays protected. “Chemical sunscreens are made of chemicals that are absorbed through the skin, where they can absorb the UV rays and cause a chemical reaction that turns the UV rays into heat and the heat is then released through the skin,” the board says. from New York City. -certified dermatologist Hadley King, MD. You know you have a chemical blocker if the active ingredient is avobenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, or homosalate.

Mineral sunscreens, on the other hand, act like a shield or umbrella against the sun’s rays, physically protecting your skin from most of the sun’s rays. These kinds of physical blockers show up on labels like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, and they sit on top of your skin to bounce these UV rays off the surface.

When should I apply a chemical sunscreen?

Now, this is where the confusion begins: because chemical sunscreens have to be go inside your skin to work, they should actually go on before your moisturizer. “I would recommend not to use occlusive ingredients [those often found in moisturizer] for a chemical sunscreen, as this could reduce the absorption of the chemical ingredients of the sunscreen,” says Dr. King. “Occlusives are oils and waxes — such as petroleum jelly, beeswax, mineral oil, silicones, lanolin, and zinc oxide — which have an inert form a layer on the skin and physically block transepidermal water loss.”

While you’ll need occlusive ingredients to wrap up the previous steps in your routine (like your serums and treatments), this superpower of moisturizing cream can actually make it harder for chemical sunscreen filters to get into the skin and do their job. To get around this, it is best to rearrange the order of your skincare routine and apply your serums, than your chemical sunscreen, than your moisturizer.

When should I apply a mineral sunscreen?

If you’ve always followed the sunscreen-goes-last rule, then you’re pretty much ready to go ahead with a mineral filter. “Mineral sunscreen should be applied last because it reflects light,” says board-certified dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD. Putting other products on top of these physical blockers can dilute them and compromise their effectiveness, says Dr. King, so you better use them to round out the skincare part of your morning routine.

How do I know which one is right for me?

As for choosing a chemical or mineral SPF for your own routine, it mostly depends on your personal preference. Derms consistently say that the best sunscreen out there is the one you’ll be wearing consistently. And if you don’t know when to apply which product formula, Dr. King an easy fix to remember when the heck to apply sunscreen in this new reality we’ve now been introduced to. “Combination products can simplify this process,” she says. “There are many good moisturizers with SPF on the market today, as well as beauty balms that combine moisturizer, SPF, and makeup in one product.” Just make sure you use enough of the product to get your daily dose of SPF, then reapply on the reg.

Can I mix moisturizer and SPF? What about makeup and SPF?

The short answer here is “no”. “Mixing sunscreen and makeup or relying solely on makeup with SPF in it won’t provide enough coverage, and you probably wouldn’t be applying it as often as sunscreen should be,” Kim Nichols, MD, a Greenwich-based board-certified dermatologist previously told Well+Good. “Always apply it separately so it can really soak into your skin for real sun protection.” This rule applies regardless of whether you use mineral or chemical sunscreen, so be sure to apply either/or just and reapply as needed.

Can I wear makeup over sunscreen?

There are a few different ways you can (and should) combine your makeup with SPF, and it depends on the type of formula you’re using. For liquid, serums and sprays, if you are using a chemical sunscreen, the order should be SPF, Moisturizer, Makeup. If you use a physical sunscreen, your order should be moisturizing creams, SPF, makeup. You can also opt for a complexion product with its own SPF in it, but keep in mind that some SPF-infused foundations may not provide enough protection to last all day (and may be less than the derm-recommended SPF 30), so it is important to make sure you are fully covered when entering the elements.

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