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Protect and hydrate: An expert guide to moisturizers with SPF

Get the most out of your skincare products with these dermatology provider recommendations.

Elizabeth Abbott headshot
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
featuring Elizabeth Abbott, PA
Updated on Dec 1, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Camille Dixon, PA-C
best moisturizer with SPF
Elizabeth Abbott headshot
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
featuring Elizabeth Abbott, PA
Updated on Dec 1, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Camille Dixon, PA-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

In this article

Understanding moisturizers
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There’s no one-size-fits-all in skincare. What works for one person may not necessarily have the same results for someone else. But it’s only natural to want the best! Luckily our team of licensed dermatology providers are regularly reviewing and assessing products on the market and are happy to offer a few recommendations! So here, you’ll find the products that hold up to our standards.

I'm Elizabeth Abbott, a board-certified physician assistant, and I'm here to guide you through the intricacies of moisturizers with SPF: double-duty products that can revolutionize how we care for our skin.

Here, we’ll explore this fascinating skincare product in more detail, and I’ll uncover my favorite SPF-infused moisturizers available now!

Understanding moisturizers

Moisturizers are vital for maintaining your skin’s hydration. The skin on our bodies has a protective outer layer that retains water to keep it healthy.¹ However, when this layer lacks sufficient moisture, your skin can become dry and flaky. Moisturizers play a key role in combating this issue. They work by either sealing in existing moisture (occlusives) or attracting additional water to your skin (humectants).²

Selecting the right type of moisturizer is particularly vital for individuals with skin conditions like eczema, as it can be a part of their treatment plan. So, moisturizers are instrumental in preserving your skin hydration and your overall skin health.³

What is SPF and why do you need it? 

Now that you’re familiar with moisturizers, let’s talk about Sun Protection Factor (SPF). It’s a numerical measure that tells you how effectively a sunscreen* can shield your skin from the harmful UVB rays of the sun.⁴ The rule of thumb is simple: the higher the SPF number, the better the protection. For instance, SPF 15 blocks about 94% of these damaging rays, while SPF 30 ramps it up to about 97%.⁵

But why do you need SPF? Well, it’s your defense against that dreaded sunburn—the redness and burning sensation you’d rather avoid. More than just discomfort, frequent sunburns can speed up skin aging and even elevate your risk of skin cancer.⁶

So, here’s my advice: Opt for sunscreens with SPF 30 or higher for maximum protection. And, don’t forget to go for broad-spectrum sunscreens, as they combat both UVA rays (the culprits behind premature skin aging) and UVB rays (known for causing skin burns). 

Your skin will thank you!

Potential drawbacks of moisturizers with SPF

When it comes to moisturizers with SPF, they offer sun protection thanks to their sun-blocking ingredients. Typically, these moisturizers have SPFs ranging from 15 to 30.⁷ However, there are some potential drawbacks you should be aware of. They may not provide as comprehensive coverage as standalone sunscreens because their application might need to be more thorough.⁸ 

Another complaint I hear from patients with oily to normal skin is that moisturizing sunscreens can leave their skin feeling greasy. 

For oily skin

I recommend looking for a physical sunscreen with the active ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. If you have oily skin, you may prefer a gel-based product.⁹ You may also want to look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a matte finish.

For sensitive skin

I recommend choosing a physical sunscreen. Physical sunscreens tend to be more gentle and better tolerated on the skin than chemical sunscreens, which can cause irritation and allergic reactions for some.¹⁰

Remember that when spending extended time outdoors, most sunscreens should be reapplied every two hours. Even if you usually apply your moisturizer once a day, carry and reapply your moisturizing sunscreen when you’re at the beach, taking a long walk, or engaging in any outdoor activity.

If you have sensitive or dry skin, exercise caution when selecting moisturizing sunscreens that contain denatured alcohol. This particular ingredient is commonly used to thin cosmetic products and can have a drying effect on the skin. While it might be suitable for normal to oily skin types, even small amounts of denatured alcohol can lead to burning, irritation, and dryness if you have dry or sensitive skin.

Top moisturizing sunscreens 

So now that you know what to keep an eye out for, here are my top picks for moisturizing sunscreens. These sunscreens combine sun protection with skin-friendly ingredients, ensuring your skin stays healthy and radiant!

1. Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen with SPF 40

My go-to moisturizing sunscreen for outdoor activities is Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen with SPF 40. This product is a clear, dimethicone-based sunscreen that has a weightless feel on the skin. The Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 is water resistant, so it provides protection when you’re sweating. 

2. Supergoop! Glow Stick SPF 50

For my five-year-old, I prefer to use a stick sunscreen to avoid unintentional eye exposure. The Supergoop! Glow Stick SPF 50 is easy for him to apply and goes on clear. Plus, it’s easy to travel with and reapply on the go! 

3. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Moisturizer with SPF 30

My favorite budget-friendly moisturizing sunscreen is La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Moisturizer with SPF 30. This is a non-comedogenic, gentle, broad-spectrum sunscreen that can be purchased online or at your local drugstore. 

The La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Moisturizer with SPF 30 contains several moisturizing and antioxidant ingredients, including ceramides, niacinamide, glycerin, dimethicone, and tocopherol, making it a wise purchase for dry or sensitive skin.

So there you have it—my top choices for moisturizing sunscreens! Whether you’re on an adventure, looking out for your little ones, or seeking an affordable yet reliable option for everyday use, these moisturizing sunscreens have you covered.

Remember, healthy skin is a reflection of proper care and protection. So, embrace the sun with confidence, armed with the right sunscreen that suits your unique needs.

Finding the right moisturizer with SPF for you

To find the ideal moisturizer with SPF for your skin, it’s essential to consider your unique needs. For maximum hydration, look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate (a hyaluronic acid derivative), ceramides, niacinamide, panthenol, dimethicone, and glycerin.¹¹⁻¹²

These components can effectively nourish your skin. 

For enhanced protection, consider tinted sunscreens that contain iron oxide, as they can shield against visible light.¹³ Look for products enriched with antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E¹⁴ (tocopherol), vitamin B3 (niacinamide)¹⁵, or resveratrol¹⁶ to provide additional UV protection. Ensure the product also has an adequate SPF to guard your skin against UV rays.

Understanding your skin’s specific requirements will help you select an excellent moisturizer with the most suitable blend of ingredients. If you need more clarification on what may work for your skin, consulting with a dermatology provider is always a wise choice.

How to add moisturizers with SPF into my skincare routine

Incorporating moisturizers with SPF into your skincare routine requires careful consideration of the order of application. Typically, sunscreen should be the final step in your morning skincare regimen. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide I typically recommend:

  1. Cleanse your face to ensure it’s free from impurities.

  2. Apply any active skincare ingredients to address specific skin concerns, such as serums or treatments. Allow these products to be absorbed by your skin.

  3. After applying your serums or treatments, use your regular moisturizer. This helps lock in hydration and provides a smooth base for sunscreen application.

  4. Once your moisturizer has been absorbed (usually a minute or two), it’s time to apply your moisturizer with SPF. Be sure to cover your face and neck thoroughly.

  5. If you plan to wear makeup, apply it after your sunscreen. There are no strict wait times for makeup application after sunscreen, but 5-10 minutes can allow a moisturizing sunscreen to dry and set on your skin, ensuring better makeup adherence.

By following this order of application, you can effectively integrate moisturizers with SPF into your skincare routine while ensuring your skin remains protected from the sun’s harmful rays.

Hydrate and protect your skin with Curology 

Achieving healthy and radiant skin is within reach with our carefully crafted skincare products. 

Our Rich Moisturizer is a luxurious blend infused with six super-ingredients, ensuring intense hydration without clogging pores. Made with hyaluronic acid and shea butter, its formula is a treat for dry and sensitive skin. Pair it with our Sunscreen, which offers SPF 30 protection and non-greasy, quick absorption. With 9.4% zinc oxide, it defends against UV rays without streaks, ensuring a smooth, soft-focus finish for all skin tones. This combination shields your skin from sun damage while promoting overall health.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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With Curology,** you can confidently embrace skincare that nourishes, hydrates, and protects, helping you achieve the glowing complexion you’ve always desired. Your skin deserves nothing less!

The key takeaways

  • Moisturizers with SPF offer both beauty and health benefits. 

  • Moisturizers are essential for skin hydration, and SPF protects against UVB rays. However, they may not replace dedicated sunscreens. 

  • Look for moisturizers with SPF that contain the right ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, niacinamide, and antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E.

  • Our top picks: Supergoop! and La Roche-Posay.

  • Incorporating SPF moisturizers into your skincare routine requires a strategic approach, with sunscreen typically as the final step.

  • Quality products like Curology’s Rich Moisturizer and Sunscreen deliver intense hydration and reliable sun protection, promoting overall skin health.

FAQs

Which moisturizer is best with SPF?

The best SPF moisturizer for you will depend on your skin type. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Moisturizer with SPF 30 is a good option, offering adequate SPF protection.

Is using moisturizer with SPF good?

Yes, moisturizers with SPF offer sun protection and hydration in one step. However, they may not provide as comprehensive sun protection as a dedicated sunscreen, especially if not applied thoroughly.¹⁷ Make sure you still apply your sunscreen for optimal protection!

What SPF moisturizer should I use daily?

For daily use, opt for a moisturizer with at least SPF 30, as it blocks about 97% of UVB rays.¹⁸ La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer SPF 30 is a good choice, especially for oily skin.

Is moisturizer with SPF better than SPF?

A moisturizer with SPF is convenient, and better than no SPF at all. But this type of product may not offer complete protection like a standalone sunscreen, mainly if not applied carefully. If sun protection is a primary concern, a standalone sunscreen like the one from Curology can help ensure you’re protected.

What ingredients should I look for in a moisturizer with SPF?

Look for zinc and titanium-based sunscreens for safety and effectiveness. For hydration, petrolatum is highly effective at reducing water loss, while glycerin is a good humectant. Consider products that combine these occlusive agents and humectants for maximum effectiveness.¹⁹

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Harwood, A., et al. Moisturizers. StatPearls. (2022, August 21).

  2. Harwood, A., et al. Moisturizers. StatPearls. Ibid.

  3. Harwood, A., et al. Moisturizers. StatPearls. Ibid.

  4. Gabros, S., et al. Sunscreens and Photoprotection. StatPearls. (2023, July 17).

  5. Gabros, S., et al. Sunscreens and Photoprotection. StatPearls. Ibid.

  6. Gabros, S., et al. Sunscreens and Photoprotection. StatPearls. Ibid.

  7. Latha, M.S., et al. Sunscreening agents: a review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (January 2013).

  8. Lourenco, E.A.J., et al. Application of SPF moisturisers is inferior to sunscreens in coverage of facial and eyelid regions. PLoS One. (2019, April 3).

  9. Latha, M.S., et al. Sunscreening agents: a review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

  10. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Design and testing of a physical sunscreen for use on sensitive skin. Photobiology, Phototherapy & Photosensitivity Diseases. Ibid.

  11. Harwood, A., et al. Moisturizers. StatPearls. Ibid.

  12. Purnamawati, S., et al. The Role of Moisturizers in Addressing Various Kinds of Dermatitis: A Review. Clin Med Res. (December 2017).

  13. Bernstein, E.F., et al. Iron oxides in novel skin care formulations attenuate blue light for enhanced protection against skin damage. J Cosmet Dermatol. (February 2021).

  14. Al-Niaimi, F. and Chiang, N.Y.Z. Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (July 2017).

  15. Snaidr, V.A., et al. Nicotinamide for photoprotection and skin cancer chemoprevention: A review of efficacy and safety. Exp Dermatol. (February 2019).

  16. Chan, C.M., et al. Protective effects of resveratrol against UVA-induced damage in ARPE19 cells. Int J Mol Sci. (2015, March 12).

Camille Dixon is a certified Physician Assistant at Curology. She received her Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies from Midwestern University in Downers Grove, IL.

Elizabeth Abbott is a certified physician assistant at Curology. She received her Master of Medical Science in physician assistant studies from Oklahoma University in Oklahoma City, OK.

*Restrictions apply. See website for full details and important safety information.

**Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Results may vary.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
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Camille Dixon, PA-C

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