The Best Way to Layer Your Summer Skincare

Shannon Farrell
how to layer skincare

Photo: Oppenheim Bernhard

How to layer your skincare products is a common beauty conundrum, but summer adds another complication: where does sunscreen fall in this cocktail? Should it go on top to prevent being buried under a pile of products, or swiped on first so it’s closest to the skin? We reached out to Lance Brown, MD, a board certified dermatologist with offices in New York City and The Hamptons, to find out.

His official answer? Apply it first. “I recommend that sunscreen be applied under all skincare products. This is thought to be the best option, as there is some concern that other products may dilute the sunscreen,” he told us. “It also inhibits it from making direct contact with skin.” To guarantee optimum protection, he recommends using makeup and moisturizers that include SPF in addition to the sunscreen you’re already wearing.

When it comes to how to layer physical or chemical sunscreens, it doesn’t make one whit of difference. Both should be applied directly onto bare skin after cleansing. The main difference between the two? “Chemical sunscreen offers better protection because it absorbs or scatters the rays,” says Dr. Brown.

But what does this mean for serums? Shouldn’t they always be applied first for best absorption? Yes with a but, says Dr. Brown. “It’s best to save antioxidants and serums for night. Sunscreen is the most important treatment for your face during the day.” If you need that dose of topical vitamins in the a.m., opt for an antioxidant-rich sunscreen, like Jan Marini Antioxidant Daily Face Protectant SPF 33 ($49).

When it comes to mandatory topical medication, aka your acne meds, it’s still best to save them for night. “But if you need to wear it during the day, apply it first and then let it set so it’s absorbed into the skin, then apply sunscreen.”

More from Daily Makeover: Tried and True: 5 Sunscreens That Will Protect Even the Most Delicate Skin

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