I usually recommend applying sunscreen as the first skincare product in the morning and chemical exfoliants like glycolics and retinoids as the first skincare product at bedtime. The reason I recommend this for sunscreen is to insure it’s in direct contact with clean skin... so it can delivers its labeled level of sun protection… since that’s how it was tested to demonstrate its SPF. And for the exfoliant, to insure its optimal efficacy by also being in direct contact with clean skin. But if you need an extra boost of exfoliation and want to use glycolic in the morning also, which goes on first, the sunscreen or the glycolic?
Obviously the sunscreen and exfoliant can’t both be first, and which ever goes on first could potentially diminish the efficacy of the second… unless they’re both applied at the same time, in the same product!
As you probably know, I’m a huge fan of combination products and here’s a great example of why. If your sunscreen and chemical exfoliant are combined in one product, you get the best of both worlds… no decrease in the rated SPF level and no second vehicle to interfere with the exfoliant.
Easy and perfect! Almost. Here’s the catch: you need to reapply your sunscreen variable numbers of times during the day but multiple applications of a potent chemical exfoliant would probably be irritating. So while a combination sunscreen and exfoliant product is a great way to start the day, when it’s time to reapply your sunscreen later on, use one that has no exfoliant. Just SPF and broad spectrum protection!