SPF. It’s sensible, essential, non-negotiable. There are pop anthems urging you to wear it, public health campaigns promoting proper use and dermatologists up and down the land stressing that, just because this is Britain and it’s a bit bleak out there sometimes, you should still be slathering yourself in SPF. Nothing’s changed in that regard: the benefits of wearing a high factor SPF (anywhere between 30 and 50) range from preventing skin cancer to keeping crow’s feet at bay and skin healthy and hydrated. The textures, formulas, application methods and tech, however, have come on leaps and bounders since the chalky, heavy days of old. Get ready to welcome in the freshest SPFs out there, all of which bring a little something extra to the table. Whichever form of sunscreen you choose, just remember to look out for high UVA as well as UVB protection (broad spectrum sunscreens with ideally four stars or above), to apply plenty of sunscreen 30 minutes before going out into the sun and to reapply regularly.
Sunscreen got exciting. Whether you’re after new and improved organic options, a light as air hydrating water or mattifying sunscreen you can brush-on, we’ve got your lot
Great for: swimmers, outdoor sports and sweaty situations.
This transparent sunscreen smooths onto skin, lips and the often neglected nooks and crannies such as ears and collarbones without leaving a trace, forming a protective veil that gets stronger on contact with water, and when you sweat, helping to shield you from UVA and UVB rays for up to 80 minutes after you’ve swiped it on. You can barely feel that you’re wearing it, which is obviously a plus if you’re busy doing laps, running around town or completing some outdoor fitness feat, plus the packaging is seriously handy for on-the-spot application without getting hands or limbs greasy. Just ensure you take a heavy handed approach when you put it on, and it’s extremely water-resisted capacity can make it tricky to budge at the end of the day- if there’s a time for double cleansing , it’s now.
Vichy Ideal Soleil Solar Protective Waters, £19
Great for: dry limbs, or skin in need of a glow.
If you expect instantly absorbed textures, skincare benefits, a flattering finish and medium to high broad spectrum protection from your suncare, Vichy just called. The brand’s new SPF waters come in the form of a bi-phase oil and water mist, with added vitamin E for nourishment. There’s an SPF 30 water laced with hyaluronic acid (£19 for 200ml) to help dry skin conserve moisture, while the SPF 30 with beta-carotene (£19 for 200ml) draws on antioxidant vitamin A which can make skin appear more golden over time. We can’t vouch strongly for the last point, but our Editor Victoria rates the application, feel and protection afforded by these newbies.
Child’s Farm SPF 50+ Roll-On Sun Lotion, £10 for 70ml
Great for: fidgety kids (and adults).
Light, portable and simple and satisfying to apply, this nifty roll-on provide high level protection that sticks around and is suitable for sensitive skin- it’s fragrance-free and approved by dermatologists for use on eczema . You will need to rub it in once you’ve rolled it on, but it’s quick work, and the rollerball does make application less of a chore. Just don’t get sand stuck in the ball…
Colorescience® Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF 50, £42
Great for: midday top-ups over makeup.
One of the only SPF makeup products recommended by dermatologist Dr Justine Kluk (and Kim Kardashian , but let’s skim over that), this loose mineral powder helps to mop up oil and minimise the appearance of pores while providing a flattering layer of high SPF protection that feels weightless on skin. I would ‘belt and braces’ this by applying an SPF before your makeup in the morning and using this throughout the day to boost your protection. If the thought of messing up your makeup by reapplying sunscreen before heading out for your lunch break on or to a meeting makes you break out in a sweat, this will swoop to your rescue in more ways than one, although it’s certainly spendy.
Filorga UV Bronze Mist SPF 50, £29 for 60ml
Great for: refreshing, hygienic reapplication.
Another ‘over makeup’ marvel, this hands-free spritz provides high protection that is supposedly enhanced by heat, with photo technology that allows filters to become more effective in the face of stronger UV. I’ve thus far found this claim difficult to monitor, but equally I didn’t burn in the slightest while wearing it, so the fact that it distributes an even layer of SPF 50 indicates that it does the job, although again I’d wear a separate SPF as ‘underwear’. It contains free-radical fighting antioxidants and polysaccharide to bind moisture to the skin, although I’d say that it’s a bit too dewy for oily and acne-prone skins- it veers more towards an oil than a water in feel and finish. Sensitive skins note that it’s on the strong side of fragrant.
Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 35, £20 for 30ml
Great for: dark skin tones.
If you find that zinc-heavy sunscreens create a white, grey or generally ashy mask effect, this sheer sunscreen does what it says on the tube to counter that. A transparent gel, it won’t show up on skin or cause a t-zone grease party, and it does the business in terms of day to day sun protection- it makes a smooth and silky primer for makeup. Cruelty free, vegan and non-comedogenic , it ticks a lot of boxes, but be aware that it’s not waterproof or water resistant, and the sweet orange peel oil, while creating summery scent, could prove irritating to sensitive skin. Otherwise, it’s good and clear protection.
Vichy Idéal Soleil Anti-Sand SPF 50, £18 for 200ml
Great for: beach days.
Given that sand in the sun lotion bottle is the bane of every summer holiday, Vichy has gone there once again in this list to push the sunscreen envelope texture-wise. It’s not rocket science exactly, but the dry finish makes getting on with your business easier, and doesn’t attract sand to you like a magnet unlike other more slick SPFs. It sinks into skin incredibly fast and isn’t a faff to reapply when the time comes (two tablespoons for your body, two teaspoons for head and neck, roughly every two hours unless you’re swimming or sweating).
Green People Scent Free Sun Lotion SPF 30, £22 for 200ml
Great for: the eco-conscious.
Reformulated for 2018, this antioxidant and aloe vera infused lotion now has more certified organic ingredients than previously- it comes in at 80 per cent organic, plus the texture’s been lightened up and 30p from every purchase is donated to the Marine Conservation Society, speaking of which, the sunscreen of course does not contain chemicals that harm marine life. For more information on the effect of chemical filters on skin (sensitive skin struggles with these in particular) and the environment (namely oxybenzone and octinoxate that cause damage to coral reefs), see our guide to sunscreens for sensitive skin.
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