Whether your want your SPF to be anti-ageing, mattifying or travel-size, we’ve got you (UVA and UVB) covered
Words Tania Grier
London parks are baked to a golden hue and the evenings are warm enough for picnic dinners – which means a spike in emergency aloe vera sales.
“It’s only ten minutes,” we say – but ten minutes in midday heat with zero protection can turn into sun damage years later, and with overexposure to the sun depleting collagen in the skin, it’s all about protection. The trick is to apply in the morning and carry a travel size at all times.
Look for brands that protect from both UVA (think A for ageing) and UVB (B for burning) that have a good star rating and a high factor if you are prone to burning, and check the expiration date.
The biggest complaints about sun cream is that it clogs the pores or leaves a greasy residue, but with brands covering every skin type and budget, there’s no excuse. Not sure which is right for you? Let’s get SPF specific…
Best on a budget
Garnier Ambre Solaire Protection Lotion
This wallet-friendly product comes in SPF10 through to SPF50, absorbs rapidly, is water resistant but not sticky, with the perfect consistency for both face and body. It has the ultimate ‘silky’ finish (my go-to body lotion on location shoots, makes the legs look amazing) and it never clogs my skin. A great all-rounder for a steal of a price! £5
Best for darker, male or spot-prone skin
Murad’s Invisiblur Perfecting Shield Broad Spectrum SPF30
This ticks all the above skin types. Not just an anti-ageing treatment, this invisible gel absorbs on contact and acts as a primer for makeup, giving twelve hours of staying power, and doubles as a pore-refiner, blurring the skin. 100% matte, it’s great for oily skin, especially in humid weather. With its lack of white residue due to the anti-emulsification (the process that turns sun cream white), it’s also great for dark skin, and non pore-clogging (a winner for men). Murad also do an excellent Essential-C Broad Spectrum SPF15 Eye Cream to protect the delicate area around the eyes from pigmentation, reduce puffiness and brighten dark circles.
Best for skin in need of a radiance boost
Kate Somerville SPF50 UncompliKated
Kate Somerville is the go-to facial guru for Hollywood’s stars, and has amassed a cult following thanks to her unique skincare range. Her multitasking SPF50 UncompliKated is genius and can be used on bare skin, to set makeup, or as a midday top-up on the run. It minimises shine and hydrates, with a soft-focus finish. Spritz on before heading to an al fresco work lunch, or pre-holiday photos.
Best for anti-ageing
Sisley SUNLEYA Age Minimizing Global Sun Care SPF50
Sisley-Paris are experts when it comes to sun protection. Technically every sun cream is ‘anti-aging’ because it protects you from sun damage. However, the SUNLEYA Age Minimizing Global Sun Care SPF50 formula goes deeper. Soy peptide boosts collagen, shea butter gives intense hydration, both replenishing loss of moisture from sun exposure. With a plethora of cutting-edge active ingredients, this so much more than your average SPF. Yes, it’s pricey, but after weeks of using daily, the benefits are clear to see: skin feels smoother, fine lines are reduced, tan holds true for longer. I’m also loving the new Super Stick SPF50 which glides on, smoothes pores and doubles as a base and bronzing stick. Dream duo!
Best for water resistance
Avene Sport Fluid SPF50
Designed for outdoor sports such as running and swimming, Avene’s Sport Fluid is silicone free and marine-friendly. Sweat-proof, non-oily and kind to sensitive skin, with a subtle dewy finish, its slip-proof packaging makes it a gym bag must-have. Try their B-protect SPF50, which changes colour on contact to add a very subtle hint of warmth.
Best for dinky travel size… and green to boot!
Green People Holiday Sun Starter Pack
This was a tough choice because so many brands cater for mini breaks and cabin-size packing. Green People’s Holiday Sun Starter Pack won me over with its 84% organic, reef-friendly version. The kit contains 30ml SPF15 tan accelerator (speeds tanning by 25%) plus 30ml SPF30 scent free (both for sensitive skin) and a free 30ml aftersun. There are no nasty ingredients (FYI, calendula is great for eczema sufferers) and it’s the ideal combo to pack on a weekend trip or to test out before buying the full size. What’s not to love about a brand that has good quality products and such great ethics?
Best for lips and eyes
Fresh’s Sugar Sport Treatment SPF30
Designed for the lips, eyes, nose, ears… essentially, all the delicate areas, Fresh’s Sugar Sport Treatment SPF30 is a pocket-size clear stick, perfect for those prone to burning and for sporty outdoor types. This is a great product for those who have had moles removed, or want to block out specific moles on the face or body. Top tip: in the summer replace your lip balm with this so you’ll always have it on you.
Best for ultra high protection *Editor’s Choice*
This lightweight gel-cream formula packs a punchy SPF of 90, which is worth considering if you have a history of skin cancer in the family, or just want to keep sun damage to an absolute minimum. Designed for sensitive skin, it can be used post facial treatments such as microdermabrasion and Retinol peels when skin is at its most vulnerable to the sun’s rays, and glides on easily to works as a sheer matte base for your makeup. Used over tattoos it will help keep your ink looking fresher longer, and best of all it comes in a useful 50ml size so you can pack it when you travel.
Best to use as a primer
Supergoop Invisible Prime and Reapply Set
Crammed with nourishing and fragrant oils of peppermint and rosemary, this twin SPF set comprised of an award-winning SPF40 sunscreen and refreshing setting mist is a winner for anyone wanting an effective, long-lasting and non-greasy SPF to wear under their makeup. Start by applying the ultra lightweight sunscreen, then replenish with the setting spray as needed. Supergoop founder Holly Thaggard is a woman on a mission to counteract the epidemic of skin cancer, and this duo sits as well on our skin as it does on our conscience.
Best for combination skin
Ren Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30
For those combo skin types who suffer from a shiny T-section all summer and dry patches in the depths of winter, this mineral-based, mattifying sunscreen formula from the clean skincare wizards at REN is a winning year-round protector. Concocted from vegan, naturally-derived ingredients such as yellow passion fruit seed extract and rice starch, this sun-shielder has a gorgeous light texture and glides on comfortably for smooth, non-greasy coverage.