Should I buy lotion that hydrates or protects?

By: Elizabeth Forester

Getting Beautiful Skin Image Gallery Should lotion add extra moisture, or should it provide better sun protection? See more pictures of beautiful skin.
© Ivanova

A quick stroll down any health and beauty aisle yields a plethora of moisturizer options. Before you many any selections, knowing your skin type and moisturizer needs is the first step to selecting the right moisturizer for you. But after that, you have even more choices. Should you get a lotion that will lock in the right amount of moisture and keep your skin hydrated? Or should you worry more about protecting yourself from the sun's harmful rays?

Luckily, you can have it both ways. Most facial moisturizers on the market, as well as many body lotions, contain a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 -- the minimum level of protection recommended by dermatologists to protect against the damage caused by prolonged sun exposure [source: American Academy of Dermatology].


It's fine to use a moisturizer that contains sunscreen rather than to apply moisturizer and sunscreen separately. The bigger issue to consider when choosing a lotion with SPF is the type of protection the moisturizer offers. When selecting a lotion, be sure that it has broad spectrum protection, which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

If you are looking for protection higher than SPF 15, you can still consider applying moisturizer and sunscreen separately. This will eliminate potential concerns over finding a single moisturizer that meets all of your criteria for hydration and protection. Also remember that dermatologists recommend that you reapply sunscreen every two hours, or immediately after swimming or any activity that causes you to sweat [source: Skin Cancer Foundation].

If you have more questions about hydration and protection in your moisturizers, you can find answers by following the links on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • American Academy of Dermatology. "10 Tips: Selecting Age-Fighting Topicals." (Sept. 7, 2009)
  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Protection Against Photoaging." (Sept. 7, 2009)
  • Skin Cancer Foundation. "Sunscreens More Effective than Ever." July 3, 2007. (Sept. 7, 2009)
  • University of Iowa. "Sun Protection and Sunscreens." (Sept. 6, 2009)