Why You Shouldn't Wear Moisturizers with Sunscreen at Night

April 28th, 2011 by Joanna

Why You Shouldn’t Wear Moisturizers with Sunscreen at Night? The short answer is that you should only use a skin care product for the purpose that it was crafted. To do otherwise could spell disaster for your skin.

If you use a moisturizer with an SPF factor during the day, you may think you can simply use the same moisturizer at night. After all, why spend more money on a special night cream? Believe it or not, night creams have been design with that specific purpose in mind, to be used at night. They are usually focused on repairing the skin and aiding the natural process of the body that occurs at nighttime.

Therefore, using sunscreen at night isn’t just unnecessary; it could actually be costing you in more ways than one and here’s how:

Lack of Moisture

Many moisturizers that contain an SPF factor are not as hydrating as those without, according to Zoe Draelos, MD, editor of the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. She reckons that the wee hours are the time for your skin to rest and repair itself, and recommends using a specially formulated night cream. While savvy consumers will take this advice with a grain of salt, in my opinion this piece of information is worth considering.

Harmful Chemicals

Sunscreen reduces the appearance of sun damage, but unfortunately, most brands contain toxic and even carcinogenic elements that harm the skin over long periods of use. Whether you wear sunscreen in the daytime or opt to use a parasol is your choice. But you should know that wearing sunscreen at night doubles your exposure to potentially dangerous chemicals, and therefore your risk. What I recommend is to use a mineral based sunscreen as they are potentially safer according to research.

More Expensive

Also, wearing sunscreen at night isn’t just hard on your skin, it’s hard on your wallet too. Moisturizers with sunscreen are often pricier than those without. Unless you have especially difficult skin, you can probably get away without using moisturizer at night. Give your skin a chance to breathe. Or, use a simple, DIY alternative like almond oil or Vitamin E cream.

If you’re not convinced, why not put it to the test? Try going without your SPF-enhanced moisturizer at night for 30 days. Replace it with a night cream, a natural oil, or nothing at all. If your skin doesn’t look any different – or if it actually improves – then why keep spending the money and putting your skin at risk? Save the sunscreen for the sunny days, not for the hours spent snoozing.

  • KatherineLineaeus

    I doubt this is true at all, your skin doesn’t function biochemically different during the day or night, what is different is the environment you expose your skin to in the daylight or at nighttime. Your skin doesn’t behave differently and does not require different things on a basic level at day or night. Because you expose your skin to sunlight during the day (inevitably) you need sunscreen in your moisturiser and you need to be careful that other products you apply during the daytime to do not make you most susceptible to the sun. Other expensive products and ingredients ay degrade in daylight-and so it may be better to apply those products at night- or wear a high protection sunscreen.

    Other than that- the difference between a night cream and a day cream is purely are marketing ploy to exploit women’s insecurities and get them to purchase more goods. THe same applies for eye creams and neck creams- you don’t need them- the skin around your eyes isn’t different fromt he rest of your face-(nor is it actually different from the rest of your body), what is different is that the face in constantly exposed to sunlight- which ages skin very rapidly. If you’re unsure, check the outside of your are and the inside of your arm. THe skin around the eyes lacks a bone and cartilage to hold it up- hence it’s prone to sags- it is however not different to the rest of your face.

    As for the difference between night creams and day creams and face creams and eye creams. WHat is often the difference-is that cosmetics companies may put in more emollient ingredients in a night cream or eye cream to satisfy the consumer’s perception that eye creams and night creams “should be thicker and richer”. Most companies don’t even do that- they add thickeners and cheap silicones into the creams to give it the same effect.

    During the day-there is usually a high amount of UVA and UVB rays from the sun which can get through windows and shades, a well formulated sunscreen with broad spectrum protection that is regular re-applied is a must. Remember to check for high concentrations of any of the following avobenzone ( butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane), titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, Mexoryl to ensure UVA protection- SPF is only a measure of UVB protection. Apply liberally and also check if your sunscreen is photostable.

    Topically applied AHA acid or BHA acids exfoliate the skin leaving less skin to protect you from the sun so it’s be better to apply these treatments at nighttime than during the day. The same goes for Vitamin A and it’s derivatives like retinol.

    Further- some ingredients like Vitamin C become unstable during the presence of sunlight- if you apply these ingredients- make sure and extra amount of sunscreen is applied so that the ingredient is not wasted by having it degraded.

    It is not necessarily harmful, if at all, to apply SPF products at nighttime.

    Iron or zinc oxides are micronized enough to clog pores as they are designed to leave an actual physical barrier to project UV rays. Chemical sunscreens can cause extra sensitivity in skins and may be suspended in highly emollient pore-clogging solutions.

    If you have no problems with sensitivity and pore-clogging, and you have used your daytime moisturiser happily. THere should not be harm in using it at night.


    SOrry for the ramble- WIth love a random med student from Australia. Where there is a lot of sun and I have be sun burnt too many times to count. xxoo

    • Extratricky

      Thank you for this.

    • Chipsie

      I guess you wrote this a couple of years ago but I appreciate your post.
      Thank you!

    • Rowan Morrison

      Thank you for this. I agree with you wholeheartedly. The OP is either a neurotic person or she/ he works in the industry and is trying to sell night cream. Any so called scientific report that does not cite sources is to be disregarded. The OP doesn’t so much as explain which toxins are present in SPF or explain how it’s harmful.

  • Rowan Morrison

    I am a pharmacologist of over 30 years experience and would like you to provide your sources please. I am at pains to understand how wearing an SPF at night could possibly damage your skin. Spf has NO know toxins or carcinogens in! This whole article is pseudo science. Like much of the skin care industry is anyway. At night you simply apply more moisturiser. Whether it’s a day or night cream doesn’t really matter so long as you apply it to damp skin.

  • aakash roy

    can i wear sunscreen after 6pm but remove during night? as i live in a equotorial belt??