Sunscreen is the only beauty product that is absolutely essential for everyone, whatever your age, gender, ethnicity or lifestyle – it’s well proven that wearing it on a daily basis is the single most important thing you can do to achieve good skin. The real secret is finding the best SPF is the you enjoy using, so that it becomes a seamless part of your skincare routine.
A sunscreen’s function is to protect against harmful radiation from the sun, which is crucial in preventing premature ageing and skin cancer. There are two types of UV (ultraviolet) rays – UVB, which cause the epidermis to burn, and UVA, which cause lasting damage including wrinkles and sagging. Look for a broad spectrum sunscreen that will protect against both, and make sure you choose one with a high enough SPF to prevent hyperpigmentation.
The next decision is whether you opt for a chemical or mineral (also known as physical) sunscreen. Don’t be put off by the names – chemical sunscreens are not full of ‘chemicals’. Mineral or physical sunscreens are made up of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, while chemical sunscreens are everything else, including organic ingredients. A chemical sunscreen is easily absorbed, feels more elegant and doesn’t leave a white cast on the skin, while mineral sunscreens are thicker by nature and are photostable, meaning they don’t have to be reapplied as frequently. If you have sensitive or reactive skin, are pregnant or have melasma, I’d go for a mineral option. Regardless of which one you choose, you need a high SPF – I recommend SPF 30 as the absolute minimum – and should reapply at least every two hours.
Finally, don’t think about sunscreens as your only line of defence against sun damage. In summer, especially, it is important to wear protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, and avoid direct sun in peak hours – I very rarely expose my skin but when I do, it’s at 5pm. I’m not saying you can’t bask in the sunlight and enjoy life, just be clever about it. Here are my favourite sunscreens for protection year-round for the face and body.
Guide To Finding The Best SPF For Your Skin
Sunleÿa Age Minimising
Global Sun Care
Photo Reverse Brightening Protective Anti-Dark Spots Face Care
A host of active ingredients ensures that Sisley Sunleÿa Age Minimising Global Sun Care SPF 50+ (£192) doesn’t just offer protection from burning, it also prevents wrinkles, loss of firmness and dark spots.
Heliocare 360 Pigment Solution Fluid SPF 50+ (£26.99) is great for minimising sun spots, as it contains a depigmenting complex of ellagic acid and niacinamide, as well as antioxidant properties.
For those looking for a glowing complexion, Institut Esthederm Photo Reverse Tinted Brightening Protective Anti-Dark Spots Face Care (£56) is a brilliant tinted make-up formula that offers high UVA and UVB protection.
Multi Defense Aqua UV Gel
Sun Sensitive Oil Free
All Physical Lightweight
If you have oily skin, opt for an oil-free sunscreen. Estée Lauder Perfectionist Pro Multi Defense Aqua UV Gel SPF 50 (£36) glides onto skin with no greasy residue, and offers a strong defence against pollution and HEV light damage thanks to a multitude of powerful antioxidants.
Lancaster Sun Sensitive Oil Free Milky Fluid SPF 50 (£17.60) is a lightweight formula that sinks into skin amazingly. It also acts on infrared rays and visible light, which can cause skin damage.
Dr Dennis Gross All Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defence SPF 30 (£46) is a mineral sunscreen, rich in antioxidants, so it protects against free radicals.
Invisible UV Flawless
Capital Soleil UV Age
Daily Facial Sunscreen
Clear Suncare Stick
For a sunscreen to wear under makeup, try Charlotte Tilbury Invisible UV Flawless Poreless Primer SPF 50 (£39) which is infused with hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin. Vichy Capital Soleil UV Age Daily SPF 50+ Facial Sunscreen (£15.75) contains peptides, niacinamide and Vitamin E, and sinks in within a second.
For on-the-go protection, Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF 30 (£39.99) is an all-mineral sheer powder in a brush that will not mess up your makeup. I am also obsessed with Shiseido Clear Suncare Stick SPF 50+ (£28). It glides easily over a foundation and leaves no stickiness.
UV Protective Lip Treatment
IS Clinical Lip Protect
Sheen Screen Hydrating
Lip Balm SPF 50
The skin on the lips is delicate and therefore vulnerable to sun damage. Clé de Peau Beaute UV Protective Lip Treatment SPF 30 (£50) is a sheer, neutral sunscreen that leaves lips looking plump and hydrated.
IS Clinical Lip Protect SPF 35 (£20) combines broad-spectrum protection with Vitamin E and coconut oil to condition and nourish lips and elderberry extract and linoleic acid to create a protective barrier against environmental aggressors.
Ultra Violette Sheen Screen Hydrating Lip Balm SPF 50 (£16) is formulated with sustainable lanolin and shea butter to soothe, and comes in four different shades.
Soleil Supérieur Body Broad
Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen
Aloe Vera Sun
Bi-Phase Oil SPF 30
People often wear a high factor on their face and a lower factor on their body; but why would you do that? RéVive Soleil Supérieur Body Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen (£125) is a transparent formula that offers daily protection, and contains glycerine to soften the skin.
If swimming and physical activities are on the agenda I recommend Clarins Gel-to-Oil SPF 50 (£22), it feels like a gel but goes on like an oil – it’s so silky – and you can apply it to dry or wet skin.
For a hydrating treat, try Decléor Aloe Vera Sun Bi-Phase Oil SPF 30 (£32) which includes aloe vera, sesame, argan and coconut to leave skin super nourished and smooth.
Skinesis Eye Insurance
Mineral Eye UV Defence
The skin around the eye area is extremely thin and one of the first places to show signs of UV damage, such as fine lines and loss of tone. Sarah Chapman Skinesis Eye Insurance SPF 30 (£48) is a lightweight under-eye tint that protects against UV, IR and environmental damage, as well as giving an instantly refreshed appearance.
Sunscreen has a tendency to migrate into eyes, especially if you’re swimming or sweating, which can be painful. Skinceuticals Mineral Eye UV Defence SPF 30 (£28) has a non-migrating formula and can even be used on eyelids, which are particularly prone to burning.