Primer Before or After Sunscreen: The Correct Order

Welcome to my blog! In today’s post, I’ll be tackling a common skincare and makeup dilemma – should you apply primer before or after sunscreen? As a beauty blogger, I get this question all the time.

Proper application order is essential for ensuring your sunscreen can provide optimal UV protection and your primer creates the perfect base for makeup. Understanding the science behind these products is key.

I’ll explain why sunscreen should always be applied before primer, as well as provide application tips and product recommendations. By the end, you’ll be a pro at layering these complexion essentials!

A Primer on Sunscreen and Primer

Before diving into proper order, let’s briefly go over what sunscreen and primer are and how they work.

Sunscreen contains active ingredients that absorb and reflect UV rays to prevent skin damage and lower skin cancer risk. Chemical sunscreens use ingredients like oxybenzone and avobenzone, while mineral options contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

For sunscreen to work effectively, it needs to be applied liberally and absorbed fully into bare skin 15-30 minutes before sun exposure. Proper application is crucial!

Primer is a gel, cream or lotion formulated to even skin texture and prep it for foundation and other complexion makeup. Silicones like dimethicone create a silky barrier that fills pores and allows makeup to glide on smoothly.

Primers help makeup appear more flawless and last longer. But because they leave a layer on skin, they aren’t formulated to absorb like sunscreen.

Now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s get to the good stuff!

Sunscreen Should Go on First: Here’s Why

I’m sure you can guess what’s coming next – sunscreen should always be applied before primer! Here’s the science behind why:

  • Sunscreen needs to be fully absorbed into bare skin to effectively protect from UV damage. Primer creates a barrier that could potentially block proper sunscreen absorption.
  • If primer is applied first, you’d have to use way more sunscreen to overcome the primer layer and adequately protect skin. This could lead to pilling and texture issues.
  • Certain primer ingredients like silicones can break down sunscreens, reducing their effectiveness over time. Sunscreen first prevents this problem.
  • Reapplication is super important for maintaining protection. Primer would have to be taken off completely before reapplying sunscreen throughout the day.

So in summary – sunscreen first allows it to properly absorb, offers maximum protection and avoids any issues with primer interference. Pretty convincing reasons if you ask me!

Tips for Flawless Application of Sunscreen and Primer

Now that we’ve got the order down pat, let’s go over some application tips to take your sunscreen and primer game to the next level.

For Sunscreen:

  • Apply to clean, dry skin. Washing your face first helps remove excess oil so sunscreen absorbs well.
  • Use 1/4 teaspoon for face. This sounds like a lot but provides adequate coverage! Apply evenly and don’t rub excessively.
  • Let it sit 15-30 minutes. Give your sunscreen time to fully absorb before adding anything on top. Set a timer if needed!
  • Reapply every 2 hours. Set reminders to reapply sunscreen throughout the day, especially after sweating, swimming or wiping face.

For Primer:

  • Start with a thin layer. Only a small amount is needed to smooth skin texture and prep for makeup.
  • Focus on t-zone and pores. Use primer to blur enlarged pores and control oil on the nose, chin and forehead.
  • Let it set 2-3 minutes. Give primer a few minutes to work its magic before applying complexion products.
  • Use sunscreen-safe primers. Silicone-based primers are best for sunscreen wear. Avoid ingredients like retinol that degrade protection.

Finding the Right Sunscreen and Primer for You

With so many options out there, choosing the right sunscreen and primer may seem overwhelming. Here’s my quick guide to picking products based on your skin type:

For Oily/Acne-Prone Skin:

  • Sunscreen: Gel or fluid formulas with a matte finish
  • Primer: Water-based or powder primers that control shine

For Dry/Mature Skin:

  • Sunscreen: Cream or mineral options that hydrate skin
  • Primer: Hydrating, luminous primers with skin care benefits

For Sensitive/Redness-Prone Skin:

  • Sunscreen: Mineral sunscreens with clean, fragrance-free formulas
  • Primer: Soothing, anti-redness primers with green color correcting pigments

For Special Events/Photography:

  • Sunscreen: Tinted mineral options that double as color correction
  • Primer: Blurring, photo finish primers that smooth skin texture

Busting Myths

Myth: Sunscreen isn’t needed under makeup with SPF.

False! Even mineral makeup doesn’t provide adequate protection. Always apply dedicated sunscreen first.

Myth: Makeup primer with SPF can replace sunscreen.

Not quite! Primers don’t contain enough sunscreen actives at the right percentages to protect skin fully.

Myth: Sunscreen needs reapplied over makeup.

Reapplication is key, but primer and makeup makes this difficult. Always remove products first before reapplying sunscreen.


Can I use a sunscreen spray if wearing primer?

Spray sunscreens don’t provide enough protection and are tricky with makeup on. Stick to traditional formulas.

What’s the best sunscreen-primer combo for my skin?

I love using mineral sunscreens under silicone or hydrating primers based on my skin’s needs. Shop for formulas compatible with your skin type.

Conclusion: Sunscreen Before Primer is Key!

I hope this breakdown gave you a better understanding of why sunscreen should always be worn underneath primer. Remember:

  • Sunscreen needs to absorb into bare skin to work. Primer can block absorption.
  • Primer must be removed before sunscreen reapplication. This maintains protection.
  • Apply adequate amounts and let sit before next steps. Follow application guidelines for best results.
  • Choose compatible sunscreen and primer formulas. Seek out ingredients that work with your skin type.

Correct order and proper application is crucial for sun protection and makeup performance. Now that you’re armed with this knowledge, you can layer your skincare and complexion products like a pro!

What are your favorite sunscreen and primer combinations? Share in the comments below! I love recommending new products to try.

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