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Moisturizers are an important part of a skin care routine for healthy skin. Some moisturizers also have an SPF to help protect the skin against UV radiation from the sun.

This article discusses why moisturizing is important and explains how to choose a suitable moisturizer. It also explores nine available products in more detail.

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Research suggests that moisturizers are important for hydrating and smoothing the skin. In addition, they improve the function of the skin barrier, potentially helping prevent eczema. They may also play a role in reinforcing the skin’s natural defenses.

Newer 2019 research suggests that moisturizers improve skin health, reduce dryness, and repair the skin barrier.

A 2018 review concluded that moisturizers benefit skin health by delivering healthy ingredients to the skin. These ingredients may include:

Moisturizers containing SPF can offer some protection from the sun. The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) recommends that people use products with an SPF of at least 30.

However, no product can provide 100% protection against UV radiation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that people take additional steps to protect themselves, such as:

  • wearing sunglasses
  • staying in the shade when possible
  • wearing a hat with a brim all the way around
  • wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, or a long skirt

Learn the best order to use skin care products in as part of a daily routine.

A person should consider the following when looking to purchase a moisturizer containing SPF:

  • Skin type: Some moisturizers are best suited to particular skin types, such as oily, dry, sensitive, or combination. Learn more about skin types.
  • Protection: A person should ensure that the product they choose protects them from UVA and UVB rays.
  • SPF level: People should ideally look for a moisturizer with an SPF of at least 30.

Most SPF moisturizers require a person to apply them directly to the skin, underneath any makeup.

How we choose products

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Price: The list includes products for a range of budgets.
  • Sun protection factor: The products all have a minimum SPF of 30 to ensure skin protection.
  • Medical accuracy and integrity: All products and brands have passed Medical News Today‘s vetting process and do not make false health claims.
  • Suitability: The products include a range of ingredients and are suitable for different skin types.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best fragrance-free: EleVen by Venus Williams Natural Unrivaled Sun Serum

  • Price: $50
  • Size: 1 fluid ounce (fl oz)
  • SPF level: 35
  • Pro: Fragrance free and suitable for sensitive skin
  • Con: Expensive

This unscented moisturizer is suitable for people with oily, combination, dry, or normal skin. A person can apply it either over or under makeup.

It has an SPF of 35 and contains 25% zinc oxide, which protects against UVA and UVB rays.

This product is cruelty-free, suitable for vegans, and reef-safe.

The company claims that it is lightweight, fragrance-free, and easily absorbable.

Best for natural ingredients: Eminence Organics Lilikoi Daily Defense Moisturizer

  • Price: $68
  • Size: 2 fl oz
  • SPF level: 40
  • Pro: Suitable for all skin types
  • Con: Not water resistant

This moisturizer has an SPF of 40 and is suitable for all skin types. The company recommends that people reapply the product every 2 hours and use a water-resistant sunscreen instead if they are swimming.

This product won the title of Best Mineral Sunscreen at the Health Beauty Awards in 2021.

The key ingredients include:

  • zinc oxide for sun protection
  • passion fruit seed oil to improve dry skin
  • cocoa seed extract to improve skin appearance
  • satsuma peel extract to protect against pollution
  • larch tree to hydrate the skin

The company uses natural and organic ingredients. The product is also cruelty-free and suitable for vegans. The product is not fragrance-free.

Best for a gluten-free formula: Murad Essential-C Day Moisture

  • Price: $68
  • Size: 1.7 fl oz
  • SPF level: 30
  • Pro: Suitable for daily use
  • Con: Some may need a higher SPF

This gluten-free broad-spectrum face cream has an SPF of 30 to help block UV rays. It is suitable for balanced, oily, combination, dry, and sensitive skin, according to the company.

The key ingredients include vitamin C, which aims to brighten and even a person’s skin tone. The product also contains ginkgo biloba leaf extract, which the company writes is an antioxidant that works with vitamin C to fight skin damage.

The company claims that a person should use this moisturizer on their face, neck, and chest in the morning.

As well as not containing gluten, the product is also free from parabens, sulfates, and mineral oil. It is suitable for vegans and is cruelty-free. The product is not fragrance-free.

Best for acne-prone skin: CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

acne
  • Price: $15.99
  • Size: 3 fl oz
  • SPF level: 30
  • Pro: Considerably cheaper than some competitors
  • Con: Contains parabens and is not cruelty-free

This facial moisturizer contains broad-spectrum SPF 30 and protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

The company recommends this product for people with acne-prone, dry, oily, or sensitive skin because it contains hyaluronic acid for hydration and niacinamide to calm the skin. It also contains three essential ceramides to protect the skin’s natural barrier.

It is free from fragrance and oil. It is not suitable for vegans.

The company claims that the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends the product for daily use.

Best for a hypoallergenic formula: Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer

  • Price: $15.97
  • Size: 2.5 fl oz
  • SPF level: 30
  • Pro: Contains soy to reduce signs of aging
  • Con: Not suitable for vegans

This product from Aveeno contains broad-spectrum SPF 30. The company claims that the moisturizer evens skin tone and texture within 4 weeks.

It protects against UVA and UVB rays and contains a soy complex to reduce signs of aging and dark spots. It is most suited for those with dull skin.

The company states that the formula is nongreasy, making it suitable to wear underneath makeup.

It is oil-free and hypoallergenic, and the company writes that it does not clog pores. However, this formula contains fragrance.

This is not suitable for vegans as Aveeno tests their products on animals.

Best for sensitive skin: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Facial Moisturizer with SPF

  • Price: $19.99
  • Size: 2.5 fl oz
  • SPF level: 30
  • Pro: Affordable and suitable for sensitive skin
  • Con: Not cruelty-free

This facial moisturizer contains an SPF of 30. It is oil-free to help promote healthy-looking skin.

It is suitable for sensitive skin and contains prebiotic thermal water, ceramide-3, niacinamide, and glycerin. It is also fragrance-free making it suitable for people with sensitivities.

The company claims that this product is easily absorbable, does not clog pores, and can restore the skin’s natural barrier within 1 hour of application.

This product is not suitable for vegans as the company tests on animals.

Best for dark skin: Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30

  • Price: $18.99
  • Size: 3 fl oz
  • SPF level: 30
  • Pro: Affordable price and large bottle size
  • Con: Company is not specific about added fragrances

This vegan-friendly product, which is designed for people with dark skin tones, contains SPF 30. The company recommends this sunscreen for daily use and states that it is suitable for wearing underneath makeup.

The company claims that it does not use toxic ingredients and that this product is environmentally friendly.

It does not specify whether it adds fragrance to the product.

The ingredients include:

  • avocado for reducing signs of aging
  • jojoba for preventing acne
  • cacao for evening skin tone
  • carrot juice for boosting melanin levels in the skin
  • sunflower oil for preventing skin irritation

Best for a cream-to-water formula: Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Moisturizer

  • Price: $55
  • Size: 1.7 fl oz
  • SPF level: 45
  • Pro: Non-greasy and lightweight formula
  • Con: Expensive

This moisturizer contains an SPF of 45 and protects against UVA and UVB rays.

The company describes the product as having a cream-to-water formula that provides a nongreasy and invisible finish. It also says that the moisturizer dries quickly and leaves the skin feeling weightless.

It is suitable for vegans and all skin types.

The product contains hyaluronic acid and saccharide isomerate (Pentavitin), which draws in water and provides up to 72 hours of hydration.

It is fragrance-free and reef-safe. The company advises people to reapply the product every 2 hours.

Best for a high SPF: Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer

  • Price: $17.49
  • Size: 1.7 fl oz
  • SPF level: 50
  • Pro: High SPF level
  • Con: Company is not cruelty-free

This daily-use moisturizer has a high SPF of 50. Neutrogena claims that the product protects the skin from UVA and UVB rays and prevents premature lines and wrinkles.

It contains an antioxidant blend that includes vitamin E, which helps prevent environmental damage, according to the company. It is nongreasy, lightweight, allergy-tested, and noncomedogenic.

A person can wear this moisturizer underneath makeup. However, if they are using it as sunscreen, they should reapply it every 2 hours.

The company is not cruelty-free so this product is not suitable for vegans. The company does not specify what skin types may benefit from this product.

Best for sun-damaged skin: ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica

  • Price: $60
  • Size: 3.4 fl oz
  • SPF level: 50+
  • Pro: High SPF level
  • Con: Expensive and contains fragrance

This daily moisturizer has an SPF of 50+. ISDIN claims that it repairs sun-damaged skin.

The ingredients include:

  • zinc oxide for sun protection
  • DNA repairsomes, containing photolyase to repair sun damage
  • vitamin E, an antioxidant to protect and fight against aging

The company also claims it is lightweight, non-greasy, absorbs quickly, and water-resistant. The product has added fragrance.

According to the company, it is suitable for all skin types. However, it is not cruelty-free, and is therefore not suitable for vegans.

For brightening: Derma E Vitamin C Weightless Moisturizer SPF 45

  • Price: $23.95
  • Size: 2 fl oz
  • SPF level: 45
  • Pro: High SPF
  • Con: May leave a white residue on skin

This lightweight moisturizer has an SPF of 45 and is designed for those with dull, discolored, and dry skin.

The product contains natural fragrance oil.

The company claims the Vitamin C formula brightens dark spots, age spots, and acne. It also contains vitamin B3 for moisturizing and vitamin E to fight against free radicals. The zinc oxide in the formula provides sun protection.

It is suitable for vegans, gluten- and soy-free, and non-GMO.

For tinted moisturizer: Coola Rosilliance Tinted Moisturizer

  • Price: $52
  • Size: 1.5 fl oz
  • SPF level: 30
  • Pro: Organic ingredients and suitable for vegans
  • Con: Small product size, contains fragrance

This product is a tinted moisturizer. This means it provides light coverage to the face and is similar to a foundation. There is a choice of three shades and it has an SPF of 30.

Coola uses 70% certified organic ingredients in this formula. This includes antioxidant-rich white and apothecary rose stem cells, as well as mineral actives and iron oxides.

It is water-resistant, does not clog pores, is cruelty-free, and is compliant with the Hawaii Reef Compliant Act 104. The company states it is suitable for those with balanced, combination, or dry skin.

All of the company’s products are 100% vegan. It has a natural rose scent.

For water- and sweat-resistance: Salt and Stone Natural Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

  • Price: $24
  • Size: 3 fl oz
  • SPF level: 30
  • Pro: Cruelty-free
  • Con: Requires topping up more regularly if swimming or sweating

This moisturizer has an SPF of 30. The company claims that it is resistant to water and sweat. However, it still recommends a person reapply the product every 2 hours or 80 minutes if swimming or sweating.

The key ingredients include:

  • Ashwagandha: An antioxidant that protects the skin and produces natural skin oils
  • Hyaluronic acid: Absorbs and removes water
  • Green tea extract: An antioxidant and sun and cancer protectant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial

The company writes that this lotion is lightweight, non-greasy, and reef safe. The packaging is sustainable and made with sugar cane. The company is cruelty-free and this product is suitable for vegans.

The company does not state whether it adds fragrance to this product.

The table below compares each of the products included in this article.

PriceSizeSPF levelSuitable for vegansKey ingredients
EleVen by Venus Williams$501 fl oz35yeszinc oxide
Eminence Organics$682 fl oz40yes• zinc oxide
• passion fruit seed oil
• cocoa seed extract
• satsuma peel extract
• larch tree
Murad$681.7 fl oz30yes• vitamin C
• ginkgo biloba leaf extract
CeraVe$15.993 fl oz30no• hyaluronic acid
• niacinamide
• essential ceramides
Aveeno$22.412.5 fl oz30nosoy complex
La Roche-Posay$19.992.5 fl oz30no• prebiotic thermal water
• ceramide-3
• niacinamide
• glycerin
Black Girl$18.993 fl oz30yesavocado
• jojoba
• cacao
• carrot juice
• sunflower oil
Peter Thomas Roth$521.7 fl oz45yes• hyaluronic acid
• Pentavitin
Neutrogena$17.491.7 fl oz50no• vitamin E
• antioxidant blend
ISDIN$603.4 fl oz50+no• zinc oxide
• DNA repairsomes
• vitamin E
Derma E$23.952 fl oz45yes• vitamins C, B3, and E
• zinc oxide
Coola$521.5 fl oz30yes• white and apothecary rose stem cells
• mineral actives
• iron oxides
Salt and Stone$243 fl oz30yes• ashwagandha
• hyaluronic acid
• green tea extract

A person should see a dermatologist if they experience any of the following conditions or changes to their skin:

  • Persistent itchy rashes: A dermatologist may be able to determine what is irritating a person’s skin and causing a rash. Persistent skin irritation can be caused by allergic reactions, skin infections, or a chronic skin condition.
  • Changes in moles or a patch of skin: If a person notices a mole or an area of their skin has changed color, shape, or size, they should seek advice from a dermatologist. These changes can be signs of skin cancer.
  • Acne: Acne is the most common skin condition in the U.S. A dermatologist can help a person manage their acne, recommend treatments, and provide advice on the type of skin care products and ingredients to avoid and how to reduce lesions and scarring.
  • Scarring: Dermatologists can recommend treatments that can reduce the appearance of scars.
  • Persistent skin irritation: A person can work with a dermatologist to determine if their skin irritation is being caused by a skin condition or sensitivity to skin care products, food or drink, or environmental factors.
  • Hair loss: Dermatologists often treat hair loss. According to the AAD, starting treatment early may get people the best results. A dermatologist can help a person determine what is causing their hair loss and recommend treatments to slow shedding or promote hair growth.
  • Nail disorders: A person should see a dermatologist if they notice a change in the shape, texture, or color of their nails. The AAD writes that these changes can be a sign of a disease. A person can get treatment for ingrown nails, nail infections, and other nail conditions from a dermatologist.

Below are answers to some of the most common frequently asked questions about moisturizers and SPF.

When is the best time to use a moisturizer with SPF?

Moisturizer with SPF may be most effective if a person applies it in the morning during the last step in their skin care routine.

Is a moisturizer with SPF better than sunscreen?

A 2019 study suggests that SPF moisturizer is not as effective as sunscreen. The authors discovered that people are more likely to miss sensitive areas of the face, such as the eyelids when applying a moisturizer compared with sunscreen.

Additionally, SPF moisturizer does not always come with high SPF ratings. SPF moisturizers often come with 30 SPF. Sunscreens will come in a range of SPF from 10–100 SPF.

How often should you reapply a moisturizer with SPF?

People should aim to reapply SPF moisturizer every two hours. If a person sweats or swims, they should apply their SPF moisturizer more frequently.

Moisturizing is beneficial for keeping the skin hydrated, smooth, and protected.

Moisturizers with an SPF also provide the skin with sun protection. People looking for a moisturizer with an SPF should ensure that their chosen product has an SPF of at least 30 and is suitable for their skin type.