Difference between Moisturizer and Sunscreen

Key difference: At the time of use, the Moisturizers and Sunscreens can create a big confusion. They seem similar to each other, but are completely different. A ‘moisturizer’ is applied in order to protect the skin from dryness, whereas a ‘sunscreen’ is used to protect the skin from UV rays in the hot climate.

Moisturizers and sunscreens are cosmetic creams generally used at different times in order to cure and protect skin from various problems and issues. Generally, people get confused in their daily usage, as both deal with the most associative problems of skin, i.e. dryness and tanning.

Moisturizers are also called as emollients, which are mixtures of chemical agents. These agents are designed to make the external layer or the epidermis of the skin softer and pliable. They have the ability to increase the skin's hydration by reducing the evaporation of the skin's water content. They are commercial products for cosmetic and therapeutic uses, but can also be made at home using common pharmaceutical ingredients. The skin when exposed to dry climate gets dehydrated, and the upper layer gets easily dry. This causes roughness and dryness of the skin, hence for such issues a moisturizer is to be applied, as it has the capacity to reduce the evaporation and increase the hydration, which keeps skin more glowing.

The sunscreens are also called sunblock, sun screen, suntan lotion, sunburn cream, sun cream or block out. They are available in the form of lotions, sprays, gels or other topical products that absorb or reflect the sun’s ultraviolet radiation before coming in direct contact with the skin. They help and protect the skin from sunburns. A number of sunscreens have tanning powder to help the skin to darken or tan; however, tanning powder does not provide protection from UV rays. Depending on the mode of action, sunscreens can be classified into physical sunscreens (the ones which reflect the sunlight) or chemical sunscreens (the ones which absorb the UV light). Generally, the sunscreens in the market are available with SPF intensities, which define the long lasting effects and actions of the sunscreen over the skin or epidermis. When the color of the skin darkens due to the harmful UV (Ultra-Violet) rays of sun, the skin undergoes tanning, i.e. patches of dark skin are observed on the exposed part of the body. At this relevant time, an individual is supposed to apply a sunscreen, as the sunscreen lotion has the ability to protect the epidermis of the skin and hence maintain the pigment color.

Both, moisturizer and sunscreen play vital roles in the field of cosmetics and fashion. Compared to moisturizers, sunscreens are more important, as their basic function is to protect the skin from strong types of UV rays, which are responsible for darkening and damaging the skin. Hence, sunscreen does not allow the radiations to penetrate the skin, as the chemicals and ingredients used in them block the path of the radiation from going through the skin. Whereas, moisturizers can be used for both the dryness, as well as protection of the oil content of the skin. The basic function of a moisturizer is to increase the water content and reduce evaporation. The moisturizers are thinner and hence they are easily absorbed by the layers of the skin. Therefore they are necessary to keep and maintain skin quality. 

Comparison between Moisturizer and Sunscreen:




Web definitions

A cosmetic preparation used to prevent dryness in the skin

A cream or lotion rubbed on to the skin to protect it from the sun

Also known as


Sunblock, sun screen, suntan lotion, sunburn cream, sun cream or block out

Protects skin

They help the skin from dryness and oiliness.

They protect the skin from harmful Ultraviolet rays.


They are of various different types depending upon the skin and its types.

They are:

  • Physical sunscreen
  • Chemical sunscreen

Preferred at times

Usually preferred at any season and in dry climate.

Usually preferred in summers or hot climate.

Are in the form of

Moisturizer products are sold in the form of soft white creams, which are generally thinner than the normal creams.

Sunscreen products are sold as lotions, creams, gels, oils, sprays, sticks, and lip balms, and can be bought without a physician's prescription.

Some branded examples

Olay Moisturizing Lotion, Himalaya Intensive Moisturizing Body Lotion, Lakme Peach Milk Moisturizers, etc.

Physical sunscreens: Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide

Chemical sunscreens: La-Roche-Posay Anthelios XL 50+, Lancome UV Expert, L’oreal UV Perfect (Mexoryl) and the new Eucerin White Solution (Tinosorb S).

Functions and protections

  • Preservation of normal skin
  • Dry skin
  • Oily skin
  • Aging skin
  • Sensitive skin
  • Eczema

Protection from the harmful UVA and UVB (Ultra violate radiations) of the sun.

Image Courtesy: luckyvitamin.com, npr.org

Most Searched in Beauty and Style Most Searched in Computers and Internets
Most Searched in Cars and Transportation Most Searched in Sports
B.Sc. vs BS
Nokia Lumia 1020 vs Nokia Lumia 925
Irrational vs Real numbers
Credentials and Certifications

Add new comment

Plain text

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.