We know it’s grey and miserable out there but that doesn’t mean your sunscreen should become redundant. From the best face SPF to give glow, boost hydration, balance oil levels and target pigmentation here are our pick of the best skin protectors you need to be using every single day
We all know we should be wearing the best face SPF we can afford every day - yep, even on these cloudy autumnal days when the sun doesn’t even feel like it’s in the sky. “UV rays are the leading cause of most signs of ageing and therefore warrant SPF protection on a daily basis,” explains Dr Emma Craythorne - consultant dermatologist for Skinceuticals. “SPFs contain active ingredients that prevent the harmful UV from reaching your skin. Remember it’s always easier - and cheaper - to prevent signs of ageing by using SPF rather than reversing them.” Thankfully the latest formulations are lighter, contain savvy skincare ingredients alongside stellar SPF protection, making them a dream to apply and use.
So if you’re on the hunt for the best face SPF - or the best body sunscreens or even best tinted SPF for that matter - to keep you protected every day, whatever it looks like outside, then here are the ones we’ve tried, and tested and recommend.
1. The best face moisturiser SPF: The Inkey List Polyglutamic Acid Dewy Sunscreen SPF30, £14.99
Combine the epic hydration capabilities of polyglutamic acid (which holds on to more moisture than even hyaluronic acid) plus squalane and glycerin with spectrum SPF30, and you get this great value of two products in one package. The finish is dewy, leaving a natural-looking sheen. It’s unscented and a great base for makeup.
2. The SPF for all skin tones: Supergoop! Every. Single. Face. SPR-Shield Watery Lotion SPF50, £28
You might expect this to be very fluid in consistency considering it’s called a watery lotion but it actually starts out as a creamy lotion that melts into a lovely watery serum as you massage it in. It completely disappears so is great for all skin tones. It’s water-resistant and feels super comfortable, leaving a gorgeous velvety matte finish which oilier skin types will definitely appreciate. But works for every face, as the name suggests.
3. The best pore-minimizing face SPF: Dermalogica Porescreen SPF40, £55
This non-ashy mineral SPF is not only invisible on every skin tone but it contains blurring pigments that create that slight filtered effect on the skin to make it look more radiant. It protects against UVA, UVB and blue light and includes niacinamide to help minimise oil, and green microalgae and vitamin E to moisturise and soften the skin.
4. Best water cream face SPF: Coco & Eve Daily Water Gel SPF50+, £20.15
With its light serum (it’s definitely not a gel) texture, this is the kind of product for when it’s boiling outside and you don’t feel like putting anything on your face but know you must. It contains hyaluronic acid for extra moisturising capabilities and comes in handy pump tube. We also love this under makeup all year round as it's so light.
5. Best face SPF for glow: Kinship Self Reflect SPF32, £27
When we say this delivers glow, we mean it. The cream is pearly pink, and when you blend it in, it turns into a gorgeous luminous sheen. Great for wearing under makeup and brilliant for no makeup days. It also contains probiotics to help strengthen the skin barrier and ingredients such as turmeric to help soothe the skin.
6. Best lightweight SPF: Beauty Pie Super Healthy Skin Ultralight UVA/UVB SPF50, members £13.50, non-members £50*
This chemical SPF combines moisturiser, SPF and primer in one invisible protective layer that sinks in right away. As well as UVA and UVB protection it has hyaluronic acid in for hydration, liquorice extract to reduce redness and betaine which also increased hydration.
Not a member of Beauty Pie? Use code GTGSENTME to get £10 off Beauty Pie annual membership when you sign up.
7. Best budget SPF: Bondi Sands Daily Moisturising SPF50+, £8
The whole GTG team rave about this SPF. It feels really hydrating but blends in seamlessly. It is fragrance-free (which more sensitive skins will appreciate) and water-resistant, making it a great choice whatever your skin type, skin tone and whatever you’re up to.
8. The most gorgeous-smelling face SPF: Dior Solar The Protective Creme, £33
If you like your products with a bit of glam and boujis on the side, then this is the face SPF for you. Of course, it is essential that it delivers on the SPF side of things, which this more than does with its broad-spectrum protection and factor 50 protection but it’s the smell and texture that really sets this SPF apart. The scent is like Tahitian monoi, aka the smell of a tropical island and the texture is super silky and luxe - not an inkling of greasiness in sight.
9. Best face SPF for dark spots: Lancaster Illuminating Cream SPF50, £31
If there’s one brand you can rely on for brilliant protective SPF it’s Lancaster. Born in the French Riveria it is a brand that focuses purely on protecting skin in the sun. This light cream contains all the SPF protection you will need alongside blue light protection, antioxidants to protect the skin from future damage and the signature Lancaster scent. The formula is also reef-safe.
10. Best face SPF for blurring: Sun Bum Glow 30, £19.99
This has a subtle tint that blends into all skin tones and a velvety, primer-like consistency, which creates a soft filter effect over the skin. It does have a slightly lower SPF factor, so it’s definitely more suited for a day where it’s not super sunny, or you know you’re going to be inside a lot but it leaves your skin looking flawless.
11. Best face SPF for dry skin: Saltee Daily Protection Formula SPF50, £32
A favourite of Oprah’s, this pump SPF has a lovely, slightly richer texture that drier skins will appreciate as well as containing hydrating cucumber extract and birch water. The formula is reef-safe and doesn’t leave any white cast. If it’s good enough for Oprah then…
12. Best for all skin types: Dr Sam’s Flawless Daily Sunscreen SPF50, £31
With a buttery texture that sinks into the skin leaving no sign of residue or grease you know you’re putting your skin into safe hands with a product created by dermatologist, Dr Sam Bunting. It's fragrance -free and suits all skin types and tones.
13. Best face SPF drops with skincare benefits: Olivanna London Sun Defence Drops SPF50, £56
Housed in a glass bottle and with a pipette applicator this has a fluid consistency which makes it very easy to apply and rub in. It is a mineral-based SPF but manages to leave no white chalkiness on the skin. It contains niacinamide and rosemary extract to soothe any redness and inflammation in the skin as well as antioxidants for more protection.
14. Best face SPF for on-the-go: Coola Classic Sunscreen Stick SPF30, £23
You could use this for an all-over face application but it’s not the easiest to apply everywhere so far better to use it to top up another face SPF. It does however make a breeze of getting suncream onto lips, eyelids (which we all often forget), noses, back of the neck, tops of ears etc. It has a balmy texture so once you’ve wiped it over the skin you can then blend it in with fingers to ensure even coverage.
15. Best cult face SPF: Bioré UV Watery Essence Aqua Rich SPF50, £10.64
One of these SPFs are sold every 15 seconds in Japan, that’s how good it is. It manages to strike the perfect balance of being so lightweight you can’t feel it on your skin with also packing a serious hydration hit and of course, really good SPF protection too.
16. Best serum face SPF: Hello Sunday The One’s That A Serum SPF50, £22
With its pipette applicator, you can be forgiven for treating this SPF as your regular face serum. It contains all the ingredients you could want from your serum - brightening vitamin C and hydrating hyaluronic acid - but happens to also have amazing broad-spectrum SPF protection. It leaves all skin tones (and we really do mean that) with a gorgeous glow, so much so that if you’re having a good skin day this may be all you need to put on.
17. Best face SPF for spot-prone skin: Ultra Violette Clean Screen Fragrance-Free SPF30, £32
Sunscreen and skin that’s prone to spots can be a tricky relationship to get right. This is because a lot of face SPFS clog pores, leading to more oil being produced and spots popping up, however, this one won’t do any of that. That is thanks in part to its gel texture that isn’t heavy and also that it sinks into the skin rather than laying on the top. It also is fragrance-free making it a great choice for sensitive and reactive skins too.
18. Best face SPF for sport: Garnier Ambre Solaire Anti-Dark Spots & Anti-Pollution Super UV SPF50+, £12
Whether it’s an outdoor run, a hilly hike or al fresco yoga sessions in the park - one thing is for certain, SPF + sweat can often results in very stingy eyes. Not so with this one. Its been developed with sensitive skin and sensitive eyes in mind which means you can put in 110% effort with zero worry. It has a light, milky-serum-type texture and the formula has hyaluronic acid, which hydrates your skin, as well as vitamin E that’s an all-round great ingredient for protecting your skin.
19. Best vegan face SPF: Grown Alchemist Natural Hydrating Sunscreen SPF30, £35
If you prefer a slightly thicker, creamier consistency to your products - drier skin tends to prefer something a little more unctuous - but that won’t weigh it down or leave your skin looking like you’re wearing SPF, then may we introduce you to this. It’s buttery but sinks in immediately and you can feel it hydrating and moisturising your skin as it goes. It leaves a dewy effect which we loved and contains lots of lovely natural ingredients and has a vegan formula.
20. Best mineral face SPF: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Facial Ultra-Light Fluid SPF30, £19.90
We’re huge fans of La Roche-Posay’s skincare line and this mineral broad-spectrum high-factor sun cream is ideal if you’re looking for an extra layer of defence against environmental aggressors. Super light and without leaving a white film, it sinks into the skin quickly and leaves makeup unscathed throughout the day. As a bonus, it also has a lovely subtle scent which makes application even more of a treat in the mornings.
21. Best face SPF for blue light protection: Ren Clean Skincare Clean Screen Mineral SPF30, £34
This silky mattifying mineral sunscreen includes antioxidant passion fruit extract to boost the resilience of the skin and rice starch to magnify shiny complexions. As well as providing UVA and UVB protection, it protects against HEV blue light. It's packaged in recycled plastic and is 100 per cent recyclable and while REN recognised there's no such thing as 'reef-safe' sun care, this is made with the friendliest reef ingredients to protect the planet.
22. Best face SPF for oily skin: Vichy Ideal Soleil Mattifying Face Dry Touch SPF30, £18
While this broad spectrum chemical sun cream is specifically formulated to help meet the needs of those with oily to combination skin, you’d be hard pushed to find a person who wouldn’t appreciate its lightweight, dry-touch texture. Offering all the high-performing benefits of a super SPF but with a soft, dry, no-shine and water-resistant finish, it also smells dreamy too. (Added note - if you’re looking to wear makeup on top, give this cream roughly 10 minutes to soak into the skin properly first - otherwise it could affect the texture of your foundation).
23. Best face SPF for mature skin: Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart Hydrating Shield SPF50, £58
This mineral SPF has a trio of powers, safeguarding the skin against UV rays, pollution and visible signs of ageing. It creates a barrier (or shield) to help stop pollution from penetrating and damaging the skin, plus it gives a universal tint to make skin look radiant.
24. Best face SPF for skin brightening: Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF50 PA ++++, £52.50
This subtly peach-tinted mineral SPF is a high-performing all-rounder, offering protection from UVA and UVB rays, infrared radiation, pollution and blue light from devices. Fighting against these keeps the complexion looking youthful and includes vitamin C to visibly brighten skin. It sinks in effortlessly leaving zero greasiness and a perfect base for makeup.
25. Best face SPF for a matte finish: Paula’s Choice Resist Youth-Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF50, £37
A great pick for oily skin types in particular, this lightweight broad spectrum chemical SPF leaves the shine-prone hydrated and protected in equal measure. Loved by beauty oracle Sali Hughes, this provides a soft matte finish and absorbs quickly for a smooth finish plus the inclusion of plant-based antioxidants in its formula helps provide an effective line of defence against other sources of environmental damage too.