Though I’m sure a lot of people find sun protection products a dull necessity (and some not even that), to me they are one of the most interesting categories of skincare. They are the most effective ‘anti-ageing’ products available so I’m always on the look out for ones that offer the highest level of protection and an easy to use formula.
Though cheap, basic facial sunscreens are better than nothing I always opt for the ones that cost a bit more. This is because having a product that contains good quality additional ingredients, especially anti-oxidants, helps further protect the skin. Also, with more expensive sunscreens you’re paying for a more ‘elegant’ formula so it’s generally more pleasant to use and less likely to cause a reaction.
I’m always road testing new facial sunscreens and tend to have several on the go at the same time just because it can get a bit boring using the same product everyday. My preference is for physical or mineral sunscreens which contain Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide over the so-called chemical ones. They tend to be the ones dermatologists recommend the most and I prefer the feel of them on my skin. Zinc Oxide in particular is a key ingredient as it protects against UVA1, UVA2 and UVB rays. I’ve written about sunscreen ingredients along UVA1, UVA2, UVB and different labelling systems in depth HERE.
Other things I look for in a facial sunscreen are that it can be applied liberally without it pilling and that makeup sits nicely on top. Also, I sometimes like to be able to re-apply the same product without my face becoming a mess. About 5ml (a teaspoon) of product is required for the face and neck to get the SPF rating stated on the bottle and that is how much I like to use per application.
I also like products with a SPF 50 rating, that can be used around the eye without causing irritation and have barely any smell to them. When it comes to application, I think the best ones go on smoothly and evenly. I also like ones that have a bit of ‘give’ in them. When I apply the product I like to let it settle for a couple of minutes and then go back and smooth over any areas that I’ve missed or applied too much. A good product will let you do that without any little clumps forming.
Out of the many SPF’s I’ve tested these are my favourites…
NeoStrata Sheer Physical ProtectionSPF50
This is the sunscreen I’ve used more than any other in the past 18 months. I’ve literally got through bottles of the stuff. You need to shake the bottle before using and it has a thin consistency but goes on smoothly and evenly. It’s tinted but adjusts to your own skin tone and I feel I don’t need to wear foundation on top. It contains Green Tea Extract, Lactobionic Acid and Vitamin E to neutralise free radicals.
Sheer Physical Protection has been available for a couple of years and I consider it to be a game changer as it shows that facial sunscreens with high SPF don’t have to be thick and goopy. It also sets the bench mark by which I measure other sun protection products against. I buy mine from Skin Oracle where it’s £23.89 for 50ml.
Murad City Skin Age Defense SPF 50
This not only protects against UV rays but also Blue Light, Infrared Radiation and Pollution. There’s been increasing concern about how less obvious environmental factors (i.e. not just UV rays) can damage the skin and this product is a real step forward in the way it addresses this issue. The effects of pollution on skin is the biggest worry for me and this has a Polymer Matrix that acts as a second skin to shield against pollution toxins. It also includes Lutin to protect against Blue Light emitted from screens and Iron Oxides to protect again Infrared Radiation which comes from the sun.
The most impressive thing about City Age Defense is that it does all of the above in a formula that settles perfectly on the skin. It has a slight peach tone to it that brightens and colour corrects and can be worn with or without makeup. This is a truly excellent new product and the buzz surrounding it is completely justified. It’s normally £45 for 50ml but I’ve spotted it at Look Fantastic for £36 (I’ve just ordered 2).
Universkin Dermaheal SPF 50
This has the thickest consistency compared to the other two and looks a bit chalky after application. However, a minute or two later, it goes clear. The big advantage of this is that it’s resistant to water so would be a good option to take on holiday (though I would recommend re-applying after having a dip).
It also contains 5 different types of peptides and plant extracts to treat existing dark spots and reduce inflammation. It’s preservative-free and hypoallergenic so great for very sensitive skin. The only downside is that it’s not that easy to get hold off. It’s available from clinics that stock the Universkin range but I actually find it easier to order it from France and I’ve found this site particularly good where it costs £44.91
From L to R: Neostrata Sheer Physical, Universkin Dermaheal and Murad City SkinThis post contains press samples unless otherwise stated. Please visit my Disclosure page for more information