Sunscreen First or Moisturizer? And Other Important SPF Questions

sunscreen first or moisturizer

Sunscreen First or Moisturizer? And Other Important Sunscreen Questions

Gone are the days when your only sunscreen options were that bottle of white zinc or the chemical laden product. Today we have loads of natural and/or mineral options available (and ours has a 5 star rating).

Our customers have had some good sunscreen related questions over the years, and we’ll share those answers with you here, from our experts:

  • Should I use sunscreen first or moisturizer?
  • When did humans actually start using sunscreen?
  • What are some natural sunscreen ingredients?
  • What are the sunscreen ingredients to stay away from?

Without further adieu, let’s get started:

Should I Apply Sunscreen First or Moisturizer?

If you are using a mineral or natural sunscreen (which works more like a shield) as our experts tell us, it’s best to use it after you’ve applied your moisturizer. If you are still using a chemical sunscreen (and we hope you’re not), you would want to apply it first.

Our natural mineral sunscreen is a fantastic option if you’re looking for a healthier sunscreen, and it’s affordable, and easy to use.

When Did Humans Start using Sunscreen?

Ancient Times

The sun has been around, well, forever, but actual sunscreen products didn’t come to be until the 1900s. Before then, our ancestors relied on all-natural ingredients, such as the jasmine and rice concoctions utilized by those brilliant ancient Egyptians. Rice bran was a pretty nifty mix since it contains gamma oryzanol, a UV absorbent. They also slathered on jasmine, which is effective at repairing damaged skin.

1930s: Milton Blake

One of the first known sunburn prevention creams was created by Aussie Milton Blake. It took him 12 years of experimentation in his kitchen, but the dedication paid off, and he began producing and selling the cream, which is still around today.

1940s: SPF is Born

A Swiss chemistry student by the name of Franz Greiter decided that sunburns really suck after suffering a particularly bad one after climbing Mount Piz on the Swiss-Austrian border. This inspired his expedition against sun damage, and in 1946, Piz Buin Glacier Cream was born. The original had a whopping SPF of 2, but hey, it’s a start and its come a long way. Greiter is credited with developing the first modern day sunscreen and establishing SPF (sun protection factor) as the standard for measuring sunscreen effectiveness.

Meanwhile, Benjamin Green, an airman and pharmacist from Miami, Florida, was experiencing the sun’s wrath while flying on WWII missions, so he whipped up his own thick sun paste dubbed Red Vet Pet. The stuff was effective, but nasty to wear. Green added some cocoa butter and coconut oil to the mix and soon after he invented Coppertone.

1960s: Sunscreens Begin to Appear on the U.S. Market

They were thick, oily, washed off easily and didn’t do much in terms of protecting from the sun, but sunscreen had busted through to U.S. store shelves and improvements were quickly on the rise.


This was a crucial time of discovery as scientists began to really look at the effects of ultraviolet rays. Tests on lab mice showed that ultraviolet-B range light is what initiates most skin cancers, with ultraviolet-A rays being the promoters. In 1988, the FDA approved avobenzone in sunscreen, a UVA-only filter.


With sun research delivering a bounty of results in the labs, one study in Australia found that people who used sunscreen seemed to still have a high prevalence of melanoma, even more than those who didn’t use sunscreen. This was due to the fact that sunscreen was still incredibly weak when it came to blocking UVA rays. This brought on a fresh wave on sunscreens with the introduction of UVA blockers, ultra micronized zinc and titanium oxide.


Sunscreen has come a long way, but this is due to the knowledge we have gained from studying the devastating effects of the sun on our skin. Therefore, though it is helpful to apply sunscreen, it cannot be relied upon completely for protection. Covering up with a hat and breathable clothing, staying hydrated and in the shade and avoiding the sun during peak hours is vital for damage prevention.

What are Some Natural Sunscreen Ingredients?

The beauty of these ingredients is that almost all of them offer some sun protection as well as skin care benefits. While most of these alone will not offer much sun protection (with the exception of zinc because it is the gold standard in protecting the skin from UV damage), combined many of these make a very good blend for protecting your skin:

Almond Oil: Approximate SPF 5 coverage. Almond oil is a universally good for you ingredient that is great for a variety of skin issues. It's an excellent hydration source and helps reverse environmental damage.

Coconut Oil: Approximate SPF 4-6 coverage. Coconut oil is rich in vitamins and proteins. A natural alternative to petroleum, and highly moisturizing, as it absorbs quickly into the skin. Coconut oil is also know for natural sun protection.

Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide: Depending how much is used, will offer that percentage in coverage. Zinc oxide is considered one of the best sunscreen ingredients we have access to. Not only does it literally block both UVA and UVB rays – which are responsible for causing burns, skin damage, and skin cancer — but it's completely photostable and resistant to water.

Red Raspberry Seed Oil: Raspberry seed oil has an SPF of about 8. Raspberry seed oil is a great source of vitamin a and e, is a great anti-inflammatory choice for irritated skin, and is noncomedogenic.

Carrot Seed Oil: Approximate SPF 8 coverage. Carrot seed oil is rich in antioxidants, which makes it an excellent anti aging ingredient. It helps rejuvenate aging skin and will help us ward off the signs of aging.

Shea Butter: Approximate SPF 4-6 coverage. Shea contains high concentrations of fatty acids and vitamins make it an ideal ingredient for softening skin. Shea butter also has anti-inflammatory and healing properties.

The Worst Sunscreen Ingredients You’ll Want To Avoid

The ingredients oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and avobenzone are all systemically absorbed into the body after one use, according to studies published by the FDA, which also found that they could be detected on the skin and in the blood weeks after no longer being used.

Previous studies detected many sunscreen ingredients in breast milk and urine samples. In addition, it’s possible for sunscreen users to inhale ingredients in sunscreen sprays and ingest some of the ingredients they apply to their lips, so the ingredients must not be harmful to the lungs or internal organs.

Our natural mineral sunscreen is a superb option for a healthier sun protection option:


We hope we’ve answered all of your sunscreen questions and helped give some clarity to whether you should apply sunscreen first or moisturizer. Further questions? Feel free to reach out to us by clicking the chat button in the lower corner of our website or email us at

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Jeanette @

I'm a formulator and skin care expert, wife, parent, and fur baby mom. I specialize in active ingredient research and studies, and share that information with you via our blog and products. Please reach out anytime you have questions!

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