Is using a moisturizer with SPF good enough?

moisturizers with SPF

Do moisturizers with SPF work the same as using sunscreens?  This was a question Reese had posed to me in my review of the UV Natural Sunscreen earlier this year.   This topic also came up recently in some of my discussions with companies supplying products with SPF and I thought it might be a good time to address this.

Natural sunscreens are normally greasy
I believe many of you are pretty much frustrated by the texture of the natural sunscreens out there that promise you broad spectrum protection.  Even though their formulations look promisingly, most of the time, they’re impossible to be worn on a daily basis with makeup on.  UV Natural is a bit like that, and hence, I can only wear a thin layer and that means the level of protection was likely to have been compromised.

Moisturizers with  SPF on the other hand, are perfect for daily wearing and pose no problems when worn under our makeup.  Hence, they’re a hot favorite.  However, do they offer sufficient protection from the sun?

Moisturizers with low SPF
If you’re using a moisturizer with an SPF rating of 15 to 20 and does contain photostable active sun protection ingredients such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or a combination of chemical blockers, then I would say your moisturizer probably offers you sufficient protection based on casual sun exposure.  But you wouldn’t want to wear that if you’re going to spend time on the beach or go swimming.   

Moisturizers with higher SPF
What about those with higher SPF such as 30 or higher?  Again,  I would stress on the active ingredients and their percentage used in the formulation as we need to consider protection against both UVB and UVA rays.   A higher SPF rating isn’t always better.  For example, I’m all for products with zinc oxide but do note that a product with high zinc oxide concentration but not coming off with a strong whitecast may possibly mean it contains zinc oxide in nanoparticles.  And according to, regular zinc oxide blocks visible light up to wavelengths 700 nm, whereas zinc nanoparticles block only up to 380 – 400 nmy up to 380 – 400 nm.  Definitely not too good to go frolicking under the sun with! 

Moisturizers with SPF are not water resistent
In addition, you need to consider that moisturizers with SPF are not water resistant, unlike those sport  sunscreens that are specifically formulated to withstand sweat and water.

Better for casual sun exposure
So as a whole, my take is that if your product is positioned as a moisturizer with an SPF rating, then it is better worn if you spend a lot of times indoors and only need to be under the sun for short periods of time.  Examples include walking to the car, walking out to grab a bite, or walking under areas with lots of shade.   If your moisturizer comes with a higher SPF rating like 30 or 50 and does contain photostable active ingredients especially a combination of physical and chemical blockers, then you might stand a chance to withstand the UV rays longer if you can re-apply frequently. 

What I use
At the moment, I wear the Daily Defence Cream from True Bio Skin Care as a moisturizer.  This product contains Transomes F.R.S (free radical scavenger) to fight photo ageing and free radical damage from sunlight exposure.   Additionally, it contains natural Dermascreen which absorbs 50% of the sun’s UVA and 85% of the sun’s harmful UVB rays.  If I’m stepping out of the house, I will use either Marie-Veronique Creme de Soleil or Creme de Jour which come with SPF30 and contain 20% zinc oxide for broad spectrum protection.  And if I’m going to stay a longer while under the sun, I’ll definitely consume Heliocare too.  Call it triple protection if you like.  However, if I’m going swimming, then I prefer to use UV Natural because that is water resistant.

For a list of the FDA Monograph Sunscreen Ingredients, you can refer to my post tips on sunscreen protection but do note that some of the chemical sunscreen ingredients have different names.  So you may need to check further if you’re unsure.


  1. stiffedneck says:

    How come you stopped using the Keys Solar one? I’m thinking of ordering the Marie Veronique for daily use (there’re 2 very large windows where I sit at work) and the Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 55 PA+++ for the weekend since I go out all day. Do you think that’s good enough? Or maybe the La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL 50?

  2. sesame says:

    Because of the controversy surrounding nano particles. I didn’t mind initially but as I moved on, I was able to find products like MV’s that come with a higher content of zinc oxide, which are non-micronized. So why not?

    Like I mentioned in my earlier comment to you, I haven’t tried Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection but I did read it’s quite effective. Maybe you want to read some reviews on forums just to be sure? La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL50 is definitely good. I don’t use it that often because it’s chemical based but it has been good for my husband who uses it.

  3. Cyndi says:

    I used to use a separate sunscreen for my face. However, I have changed to using moisturizer with spf lately due to the fact that my skin condition is not too good and I don’t want to load it with heavy sunscreen and moisturizers. Well, things to be going on okay so far, since I usually are indoors and also occasionally walk to and from places.

  4. pf1123 says:

    I don’t think sunscreen with moisturisers give me enough protection.

    Actually, I’m more afraid of pigmentation. I don’t mind being dark. I just cannot be fair or dark with pigmentation!

    So, I’m more inclined towards suncreen products that specifically says it is anti-pigmentation.

  5. sesame says:

    I’ve heard that some ladies have the same problem as you – allergic to sunscreen. So moisturizers with SPF are definitely the best alternative. Just avoid strong sun or use extra protection like hat and sunnies if you do.

  6. sesame says:

    I’m like you in the fear of pigmentation. I have lots btw. But sometimes I think it’s also hereditary. I have pigmentation on my body even when I don’t go baking under the sun in bikini!

  7. knockingknees says:

    I would very much prefer a seperate sunscreen for my face, but I have so far not found any where I don’t get a breakout from. I find that the ones that are waterproof also tends to clog pores. Is a moisturizer with SPF good enough for walking to the bus stop, sitting in the bus by the sun, walking outside shopping sufficient? In all these cases, you can’t say that are really indoors, but you are not really baking under the sun either.

  8. stiffedneck says:

    Thanks for replying so quickly. I’ve been searching to buy the La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL50 this morning, but its all too confusing as where to get it better. So I decided to get the Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection SPF PA+++ from Sephora thats only 10 min away from my house. And I guess I’ll order the MV as well. Thanks again :-).

  9. stiffedneck says:

    I also forgot to ask, if you ever tried the John Masters Sunscreen?

  10. sesame says:

    Some of those that state they are waterproof or water resistant are formulated without emulsifiers and are difficult to wash off so double cleansing must be used. May not be suitable for those prone to clog pores.

    If there are active sun protective ingredients within the moisturizer with SPF eg. zinc oxide, titanium dioxide (others see the link I suggested) then it should give you some protection against these casual sun protection. However, I would suggest going for those with a higher SPF level.

    But if your skin is very proned to hyperpigmentation, then I suggest you take more precaution.

    I use Heliocare as an addition protection but because it is oral supplement, not everyone is keen to try this.

  11. sesame says:

    Hope you’ll like them!

  12. sesame says:

    I quite like some of JM’s products but their sunscreen doesn’t sound enough to meet my needs. I prefer mineral sunscreens with high zinc oxide content but JM’s contains 7.5% Titanium Dioxide & 5% Zinc Oxide. It is probably enough for casual sun exposure but I’m not going for it.

  13. Joanna says:

    I am looking to order the MV Creme De Jour as an everyday sun protection, wondering if you use it on top of a moisturiser or use it alone?


  14. AtelierGal says:

    How’s Living Nature working for you? I finally tried True Beauty’s defence cream today lol

  15. sesame says:

    It maybe a bit drying to be used alone. If your moisturizer is not greasy, then this is good to use over the moisturizer.

  16. sesame says:

    You mean the Daily Defence? I haven’t used it for very long but the smell is rather strong. Stronger than True Beauty’s.

  17. Joanna says:


    I am wondering where in Singapore do you buy ur MV Creme de Jour?


  18. sesame says:

    Sorry, it isn’t available in Singapore. You need special arrangements to bring the item in too as they don’t ship internationally currently.

  19. Joanna says:

    That’s a pity because shipping is quite expensive.

    Just another question tho, how do you protect your eye area from the sun? do you use your creme de jour on the eye area?

  20. sesame says:

    Yes I do…it’s light enough and not greasy so I have no problems even using it over my eye area.

  21. stiffedneck says:

    I’m using the Clarin SPF 30 for my eyes. I bought it from Sephora. It leaves a white cast at first, but then disappear. I didn’t see anyone leave any comment about this, maybe it’s just in my head but I think it brightens up and tightens the area around my eyes a bit, which is a plus.

    I was looking at the La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 60 with the CELL-OX Shield, do you know if this one is as stable as the Meroxyl SX?

  22. sesame says:

    I’m not sure about the LRP one you mentioned. If it contains Mexoryl SX and XL, then it should be stable.

  23. stiffedneck says:

    I tried the LRP Anthelios SX SPF 40 today on my face, and the LRP Anthelios SPF 60 (with the mentioned CELL-OX Shield techonology) on my neck. And I decided to return them both, since the one my face had a glue-like texture that was so hard to spread and make my face white like a geisha for the rest of day even I applied tons of bronzer already. The other one on the neck was clear and wasn’t that greasy, but it didnt have the Meroxyl SX or XL, so I should return them since its not that stable.
    I’m writing this just so whoever wants to try the LRP Anthelios 40 with Meroxyl SX won’t have to waste their money.

  24. Isabelle says:

    I am so confused with sunscreen for my face…I have melasma and want to avoid chemical sunscreen. I have UV natural and SVR but if I put 1/4 tsp on my face, it’s too much, I look like a geisha and don’t want to walk down the streets…I want to order MV, but is it enough for people suffering from melasma? will I have to put a lot on my face? Any idea to find a good protection for everyday use, mostly indoor with small outdoor activities and with make-up? Thanks, I love your website…and sunscreens!

  25. sesame says:

    Melasma is very tricky and I can’t say what sunscreen can guarantee sufficient coverage as all of them are not fullproof. MV is quite good but it does leave a slight whitecast especially Creme de Jour. Creme de Soliel is slightly better or you could try their tinted version.

    The best I can advice is that on top of sunscreen, try carrying umbrella and wearing sunglasses. Another thing to consider is to take sun protection pill like Heliocare.

  26. Isabelle says:

    Thank you for your reply! Do you know about PPD rating? I think this is what we have to check for protection against UVA, which are very bad for melasma. I have just read on Makeup Alley that all physical sunscreen have very low PPD, which is bad because higher PPD means higher protection. I am even more confused…Should I go back to chemical sunscreen? Do you know about PPD? Thanks…

  27. sesame says:

    Yes, I’ve read about it and it seems that only some of the European formulations tell you their PPD level eg. those from La Roche-Posay.

    Well, very hard for me to tell you if you should go back to using chemical sunscreens. I always say this is a personal choice and I do believe that some of the chemical formulations are more superior because they usually include a couple of ingredients – unlike the physical ones which are either only zinc oxide or with titanium dioxide.

    If you’re looking for physical sunblock, then I suggest you find those with zinc oxide of at least 16%. Otherwise, the protection may not be sufficient.

    Personally, I use only formulations that are natural or using zinc oxide. And to give myself peace of mind, I now take Heliocare, which are sun protection pills. You can find my review of that under the category on sun protection. In addition, I carry a brolly whenever I should.

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