SPF in Moisturiser – Convenient Or A Con?

Hello, beautiful people and welcome back! Today’s post is all about keeping you beautiful – and preventing the sun from taking it’s toll. At this point, most of us know that sun protection is an essential part of our skincare regime . . . but is it as easy as buying moisturiser with SPF in it? Well, let’s try and find out. But firstly:

DISCLAIMER: I’ve linked to some studies and medical claims. As always, I’ve tried to make sure these are coming from medical studies, official government or authoritative websites.

(Pin this image for me, lovers!)

Why is sun protection in skincare so important?

If you haven’t had this driven home yet, sun protection should be the most important part of your skincare routine. There are multiple reasons for this, but the two biggies (in my opinion) are:

Skin cancer and anti-ageing.

1. Skin Cancer

The first reason sun cream is essential is one we’re all aware of – UV rays cause skin cancer. In fact, UV radiation accounts for 95% of melanoma – which is the most deadly form of skin cancer.

“Sun exposure that doesn’t result in burning can still cause damage to skin cells and increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Evidence suggests that regular exposure to UV radiation year after year can also lead to skin cancer.”CancerCouncil Australia

I used to fundraise for CancerCouncil NSW (a part of Cancer Council Australia) and that honestly freaked me out enough into wearing sun cream on the daily. (In fact, I may write another few posts around it if anyone’s interested about the health effects?)


This is actually tied to first point – UV rays damage skin cells, which causes skin cancer but is also a prime cause of premature ageing. It’s actually estimated that 80-90% of facial aging is caused by sun exposure.

If you want a really concise and easy to understand breakdown of how sun exposure causes skin to age faster, I highly recommend this article by Skincancer.org

I won’t go too in depth on the science behind this in this post . . . largely due to the fact I don’t fully understand it myself. But also because this isn’t a science lesson – this post is just discussing the merits of SPF in moisturiser.

So we know a bit of background around why sun protection is important. Now to discuss the big topic . . . is wearing moisturiser with SPF in it enough?

The short version: … eh, not really

On one hand, wearing anything with SPF is better than nothing. If the idea of suncream is entirely abhorrent (or, y’know, yours runs out and you just need some form of protection), then sure – a moisturiser with some protection is great. If you’re willing to go for the alternative, though, you’re going to get far superior protection. 

There’s a lot of reasons floating around for why this could be. Lot’s of great articles interviewing dermatologists who suggest loads of plausible reasons SPF moisturiser is just . . . inferior to the OG sunscreen. But I prefer real studies and none demonstrate this point quite as well as this one.

Take a look at the image below.

Source – The Independent

Researchers from the University of Liverpool conducted a study where they used a UV camera to see the coverage of SPF moisturiser compared to normal suncream . . . and I think the results really speak for themselves.

“People don’t apply foundation evenly, they don’t apply it everywhere, and they don’t apply enough for it to be adequate protection on its own,” says says Jeanine Downie, M.D., a dermatologist and an assistant attending physician at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair, N.J., and Overlook Hospital in Summit, N.J. – Source ConsumerReports

Another factor, as evidenced above, is the fact that you’re just not going to use enough moisturiser to get the SPF coverage that will protect you. Cancer Council recommend using a teaspoon’s worth of sunscreen on your face (including ears and neck) for proper coverage and, I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t use a teaspoon worth of moisturiser.

And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that the SPF in moisturiser is diluted too! So you’d probably need significantly more than just that teaspoon. And you’d potentially have to reapply more often too.

To conclude . . .

Take the marketing efforts with a bit of salt. Just because that moisturiser has SPF in it, doesn’t mean you should skip out on the suncream. A lot of dermatologists in the articles I’ve read recommend layering SPF (so wearing an SPF lip balm, powder foundation with SPF and suncream) for full protection – so if you’re looking to take your skincare regime to the next level, you could incorporate some SPF makeup products in there too.

If you’re into skincare and beauty, why not stick around and give my Beauty & Skincare Pinterest board a follow?

Alright, lovelies, I hope this post wasn’t too dull for you all! Science teacher, I am not. (Vain girl who refuses to go straight from acne to wrinkles, though, is my jam.) Are you guys avid users of suncream? Or are you an SPF in moisturiser kinda gal? Let me know your thoughts down below!


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10 thoughts on “SPF in Moisturiser – Convenient Or A Con?”

  1. I never found a face sunscreen over spf 35 so thank you Mia! I’ve been putting on 35 and rocking a hat, but I’m definitely down to check this out. People don’t realize how easy it is to get skin cancer and how rapidly the sun ages us.


    1. Oh, I don’t MASSIVELY recommend this one to be honest (I just needed a sun cream and it was available haha) Because it’s zinc, it’s fabulously protective but it does leave a lil bit of a layer of film… I’ve tried other creams that aren’t quite as visible. But if you see it in a drug store, it is really effective & doesn’t clog your skin up so you can definitely pick it up!xx

  2. I started using acids on my skin so SPF is very important and my dermatologist says the same, you should use a separate one for it to be effective

  3. I have never actually considered whether the SPF in my moisturiser is actually protecting me or not, it is just part of my daily routine. This has been really insightful, thank you for sharing. xx

  4. Yasss girl I ADORE this post! I am always down for protecting the moneymaker. While I make sure all the make-up (moisturizer, foundation, powder etc) I buy have spf in it, I know it doesn’t offer as much protection as the OG. If I know I am going to be out in the sun (yay for beach days!) I always go for the real sunscreen, because it offers me that REAL protection which is so important. Thanks for sharing sweets! <3

  5. Super interesting article wow, I learned so much, even though I already wear sunscreen on a regular basis! It is indeed super important to think about this and prevent any damage and harm that the sun can do! Thanks a lot for sharing and doing all the research! 😊

  6. This was such an insightful post, Mia, such an interesting read!! My dermatologist always recommended I use seperate products, so that’s what I personally do, primarily because a lot of sunscreens irritate the skin around my face, neck and chest area, so I have to use a specific one if I don’t want to have a big fat red rash😂 xx

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