The New Breed of Sunscreen


Remember when 'summer' meant that dreaded ritual of slapping on pure-white Boots Soltan and spending a good 5 minutes rubbing it in, still to end up with a bizarre white-blue sheen on your skin? Well, facial sun protection has moved on from those days and these are my top picks from the new wave of products, whether for summer or winter, day or night and for all skin types.


Sun protection can be found in many forms and what you'll want to go for is 'broad spectrum', meaning it will shield your skin from both UVA (PA or *) and UVB (SPF) rays. If the UVA protection isn't stated but a product says 'broad spectrum' then the law states it must give at least 1/3 of the UVB 'SPF' protection. The sun can harm the skin whether it's sunny or cloudy, day or night, whether you burn or tan, but you can flex the products you use depending on what your skin needs. Obviously, I am mixed race and melanin means your skin is less susceptible to sun damage, but I've definitely been guilty of being overly complacent. I think I've only ever burnt once or twice in my life but I still have to be aware of how it can age my skin and the dreaded 'c' word can still happen regardless of whether you burn or not. I also have moles, which you can never be too careful with.

I personally find that using a foundation, primer or skincare product with around SPF 15-30 works for me during the winter months. For spring and summer I up this to a dedicated sunscreen with SPF30 and on sunny days or when I'm on holiday I opt for SPF50. In the evening, especially when on holiday (because I'll usually have washed my face completely after the day, removing any existing protection), I still like to use some protection but I'm a bit more relaxed and will go for SPF 10-20. I'd say for most people living in the UK you'll need a minimum of SPF 15 on a day-to-day basis and anything below 5 will be next to useless. The amount applied is also important; a good rule of thumb is 1/2 of a teaspoon on your face to get the level of protection the product is billed as giving. Protection given by moisturisers, contrary to popular belief, is just as good as a dedicated sunscreen - the issue is that it's less likely to be waterproof and we often don't apply it thickly enough. If you're using a dedicated product then it's best to apply it as the last step in your skincare routine, so after your moisturiser but before your primer or foundation.

I also wanted to do a quick disclaimer as I'm not a dermatologist (obviously!) so I'm going to be talking about these products in terms of their level of protection, how they look and feel on the skin and ease of application. However there are some fab online resources you can check out such as: Into the Gloss, Everyday Health, British Association of Dermatologists and Paula's Choice.

Best for dry skin

These are my top picks for drier skin types to incorporate into your everyday routine.

Origins A Perfect World Age-Defence Moisturiser with White Tea SPF40* | £35 | This is a little thick for my combination skin as the weather hots up, however I'll be reaching for it again when Autumn/Winter comes back around. Essentially this is a deeply moisturising cream (though it's nothing too greasy) that contains Broad Spectrum SPF40. I find this to be a really good level of protection for everyday use when I'm not necessarily going to be out in the sun all day. It really smooths out and hydrates the skin and of course sun damage is a big cause of premature ageing, so using something like this every day (including during the colder months) is a really good idea to preserve the long-term quality and condition of your skin.

Origins A Perfect World Age-Defence Eye Cream with White Tea SPF20* | £30 | Your eyes are a very delicate area of your face and so deserve special attention in terms of your skincare routine. This is definitely a rich, nourishing eye cream so isn't great if you get oily during the summer (as it's going to be too thick and heavy), however for more mature or dry skin, this is a good idea for giving your eyes some extra protection. A drawback is that this isn't branded as 'broad spectrum'.

Best for oily skin

Oily and spot-prone skin notoriously struggles with sunscreens that leave excess oil and cause breakouts, however in recent years there have been some great new additions to the market that are perfect for this type of skin.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo + SPF30* | £16.50 | This one isn't billed as being 'broad spectrum' but again it can be assumed to contain a degree of UVA protection. It's a great one to use on oily skin for everyday wear. I love the original Effaclar Duo + as an everyday cream when my skin is spotty or oily because it just unclogs the pores and moisturises the skin without overwhelming it. It helps my skin stay clear and prevents blemishes from scarring. I find this to be just as good as the original cream with the added bonus of sun protection. It doesn't pill up when I put on my primer or makeup either, making it practical and easy to use every single day.

Vichy Ideal Soleil Mattifying Face Dry Touch SPF50* | £16.50 | This is a great one when you just really find that sun protection ends up being a bit greasy on your skin. This mattes right down without feeling overly dry or difficult to work with! This protects against both UVA and UVB. I definitely over-applied it on my first go... but despite being a white formula, I don't find it leaves a strange colour on my skin. It helps keep things shine-free during the day and also doesn't peel off when I apply my makeup on top of it. Overall it's a great option for oilier skin types.

Vichy Ideal Soleil Anti-Blemish SPF30* | £16.50 | This has a slightly less watery texture than the other Vichy option and is again a broad-spectrum product. I'm never sure if it's the texture of sunscreen or the sun itself, but I often get pretty bad breakouts in the summer, so I was excited to try a product that promises to help me avoid that. Whilst not quite as mattifying as the other one, I didn't find my skin was suffering too much with the dreaded shine on the days I used it. Whilst not as high-protection, this is a good level for everyday use.

Best for under makeup

Although we should always protect our skin to the max, for an 'every single day' product you just want something that's easy to apply and wear and that's going to sit well under your makeup.

Bliss Triple Oxygen Ultimate UV Protection Moisturiser SPF33 PA+++* | £35 | This is such a nice, hydrating but very lightweight moisturiser that contains a really good level of sun protection to incorporate into your daily routine. I really like that this has a pump because it stops you wasting any product and is also more hygienic. What I really love about this though is that you barely have to wait before applying your primer or foundation after using this. I often find moisturisers with sun protection or dedicated sunscreens to really pill up unless you leave at least 10 minutes between applying them and putting on your makeup, however I don't have that problem with this. We all know we should wear sun protection every day but messy formulas are off-putting; something like this makes you forget you're even wearing anything!

Ultrasun Sports Gel SPF20 | £14.99 | I was really intrigued by this formulation as I've never tried a clear gel sunscreen before. Again, this is broad spectrum and this is the sort of level of protection I like to build into my everyday skincare routine. I have to say that I totally love this! It doesn't smell great but that's because it doesn't contain any perfumes or fragrances. I also don't love the squeezy bottle, as I'd prefer a pump, but what's inside is amazing. It isn't sticky or tacky, it just smooths onto the skin without pilling and actually feels quite cooling and refreshing. It doesn't disrupt my makeup at all, in fact, my primer smooths on over it as though I'm not wearing anything on my skin at all!

Urban Decay Urban Defence Primer SPF30 | £23 | This is a broad spectrum product, but as I mentioned at the start of this post, one of the main issues with non-dedicated sunscreen products is that you're unlikely to apply enough for it to do its job completely. And I think a primer is 'prime' example of that! As they tend to make a mess when over-applied, I do feel it's probably not the best idea to rely on a primer alone for all of your sun protection, especially as we head into summer. Having said that, I do think this works really well under makeup; it smooths the skin and increases the wear-time of your base but I don't find it has that awful peeling effect that puts many people off using a primer.

Best for evening

Particularly on holiday, I usually have a shower and take off all of my makeup in the evening before heading back out. The sun can still damage your skin regardless of it not being the height of the day, so I still like to put on something (though often not to the level that I wear in the daytime).

Clarins Sun Wrinkle Control Cream SPF15* | £21 | For some reason I hate the word 'wrinkle'; 'anti-ageing' sounds far more appealing... Anyway, this is a product designed to counteract the ageing effect that sun damage can cause to the skin. Despite being a white cream, it doesn't leave a colour on my skin and doesn't have much residue on my skin. It's easy to use under makeup and provides moderate broad spectrum protection.

Paul & Joe Limited Edition Suncream SPF10* | £18 | Personally, I wouldn't wear SPF10 other than in the evenings or during the winter, however this is a nice skincare product in itself. I couldn't quite work out from my research whether this was broad spectrum or not, which is disappointing. However I like the light, non-greasy texture and the fact it's moisturising without smothering the skin.

Best for top-ups

It's not always practical to slap on a cream during the day when you're wearing makeup but it's important to keep your sunscreen topped up, even if you're wearing SPF50. A mist is the perfect solution because you can throw one in your bag and use it throughout the day.

Bioderma Hydrabio Eau de Soin SPF30 | £9.50 | What I really like about this is that the texture is just like water; it's refreshing and cooling and doesn't feel sticky or heavy. Annoyingly this is another one where it wasn't clear from my Google-ing whether it's broad spectrum or not but, as discussed, we can assume a bit of UVA protection. SPF30 is a really good level of protection for me and you can spray this liberally without it ruining your makeup. 

Pixi Sun Mist | £18 | This is a slightly heavier, almost milky mist but I can confirm it's broad spectrum SPF30. You can use this before makeup to avoid any messiness if you're in a mad rush and really can't wait for your skincare to settle down before going in with primer or foundation. Again, it's great for topping up your protection and despite not having the water-light texture of the Bioderma, this still didn't cause me any issues with my makeup when I sprayed it on top during the day. Plus it smells great, which is always a bonus!


Best for complete protection

When I head off on holiday or even in the height of summer here in the UK (AKA a 10-day window towards the end of July...) I need something that's going to give me the maximum amount of protection. Whilst SPF50 isn't hard to come by, formulas that aren't messy and fussy are!

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Fluid SPF50 | £16.50 | This is one of, if not the, best high-protection broad spectrum sunscreens you'll find in the aisles of Boots. As the name suggests, it's a fluid formula with the slightest tint once applied. It gives a relatively matte finish, doesn't break me out and is easy to work with. My only negative is that it does pill a bit if you don't give it a fair amount of time to settle before beginning your makeup routine. 

NeoStrata Sheer Physical Protection SPF50* | £31 | And this is the product that has dethroned the La Roche-Posay as my favourite high-protection formula! I honestly wasn't expecting to be as wowed by this product as I was but it really did knock my socks off and makes it so easy to incorporate broad spectrum SPF50 into your everyday routine. It has a very watery formula so you need to give it a good shake, however the packaging means this isn't too inconvenient. It has a very slight tint, but I wouldn't have thought it's anything noticeable enough to make darker skin tones look ashy. It doesn't make my skin feel sticky or leave an excess, it just dries down nicely and even if I put on primer quite quickly after application, it it doesn't start to peel and everything goes on top of it perfectly. I think I've found the product that'll be coming on holiday with me!


What's your favourite sunscreen?


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Disclosure - products marked * were sent to me for consideration however all opinions remain my own. 
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21 comments

  1. omg i didnt realise pixi did an spf,that looks great xx

    cristynottingham.blogspot.co.uk

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  2. The origin one, and the eye cream, sound great for dry skin. For my body I like going for the Malibu SPF 50 as it absorbs really quickly, I'm also trying out a new Balance Me one for the face which I really like :) x

    Velvet Blush

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    Replies
    1. Malibu is a classic - their oil formula is fab for the body :) xx

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  3. I agree, the amount we put on our faces is as important as the factor itself, I will prefer to put an SPF 15 knowing that the layer I put on my face is thick enough to protect me than an SPF 50 in a very thin layer which wouldn't help my skin! I'm really tempted by the Pixi Sun Mist, even though the mist doesn't sound as fine as I would like it to be! Lovely post :)

    http://fannyanddailybeauty.com

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  4. Really informative article and I can relate to so many points (I have medium Asian skin, but still like to use SPF as I have dark beauty spots suddenly appearing as I get older). Weird timing to stumble across this post too, as I've just amped-up my sun protection routine - now I'm in my late 20s, I'm noticing fine lines appearing especially on my neck and hands.

    I purchased an SPF hand cream from L'Occitane which was a bit pricey, but lovely and luxurious. For my face, I'm currently using the Vichy Soleil range now that the UK summer is on its way. I like that it's not too greasy or heavy on the skin, but found the scent a little too strong. A big fan of the Effaclar Duo and Vichy moisturisers in general though and would really recommend, especially if you have problematic skin.

    I'll have to try some of the products you've mentioned in this list next :-).

    - Lubna | The Digital Review

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    Replies
    1. Yeah pigmentation can be worsened by exposure to the sun, so no matter what our skin tone is, it's a good idea to use sunscreen! xx

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  5. Must try some of these out since summer is coming! Thanks for sharing :)

    Lotte | www.lottebeautybox.blogspot.co.uk

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  6. Such a great post! I've only started wearing SPF daily this year but do feel like it makes a difference to the look of your skin and slows down the appearance of those mid-twenties lines. I've been using the Clinique SPF but love the sound of the Origins moisturiser so will have to try that next!

    Emma x
    emmajtaylor.com

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  7. I'm using the TBS SPF Essence currently which is super lightweight and perfect under makeup. I only worry about the alcohol content in it and hope it won't dry out my skin too much. x

    Mummy's Beauty Corner

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  8. What a fab, in-depth post! I'm using the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo at the mo and I love it! x

    ♥ Carly Susanne ~ A Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

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  9. Gosh this post is super helpful! Definitely going to come back here for sunscreen recommendation x

    http://www.erinazmir.com

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  10. The pixi sun mist sounds like exactly what I need!

    http://claresloves.blogspot.co.uk/

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  11. Great selection. The face of sunscreen has definitely changed!

    www.upyourvlog.com

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  12. I've become so obsessed with SPF this year, I used to be so bad with it (which considering I'm pale isn't good) but I've upped my game. I'm saving this post as this is such a useful guide to SPF. I love the look of the Pixi spray for top ups and the La Roche Posay SPF50 for the mornings!

    The Makeup Directory

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    Replies
    1. I'm really glad it's helped! It's just so important and it's taken me so long to realise xx

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  13. I absolutely do not take care of my skin and it's so horrible of me. I really should take care of it this summer, love how detailed this post is. Thanks for sharing!

    http://www.myclusterofthoughts.com/

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  14. Thank you for your comments - I hope this was helpful :) xx

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  15. My goodness, this is one of the best guides I have seen in a while! Well put, dear :) I also love Caudalie sunscreen for dry skin. They have one for combo skin too, it works so well underneath make-up and never leaves white lines or anything like that. Thanks for sharing xx

    Naya // www.partyparrotblog.com

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  16. It took me years but I finally committed to SPF last year, and every day since. Well, on my face. I need to be more committed to full body use.

    I love Anthelios and A Perfect World! I didn't know there was a matching eye cream so that's something I need to try.

    I'm testing the new Effaclar Duo with SPF and so far, I'm struggling to like it.

    Shanelle || SLovesAutumn

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