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Australian sunscreen brand Ultra Violette recently arrived at Space NK so it's now available for those of us in the UK! I decided to pick up two of their products (in a 'buy one, get one half price' and today I'm returning my verdict, as well as sharing my thoughts on different sunscreen filters...
If you aren't aware: the filters used in suncare products can vary significantly by country. In the US, for example, they haven't approved a new filter since 1999! The EU, on the other hand, has a really slick process in terms of getting new filters approved. Australia has some of the stricted sunscreen regulations in the world due to the hole in the Ozone layer and the general hazard of having lots of people of northern European descent so close to the equator! The rate of skin cancer is very high down under, so naturally they really put their sunscreens to the test. Both of these products contain chemical filters (as opposed to mineral filters) and use tinosorbs, which aren't approved in the US but are commonly used in European products.
I'm going to talk a little about mineral and chemical sunscreens, though I really encourage you to do your own research on this topic: there's so much information and misinformation out there so you really need to feel comfortable with whatever option you choose. We used to think that mineral sunscreens reflected UV rays and chemical sunscreens absorbed them, however more recent studies seem to suggest that mineral sunscreens also absorb the vast majority of UV rays and reflect a small amount. Much has been made of a recent study suggesting that certain sunscreen filters may be absorbed into the bloodstream, though they didn't find any evidence that this is dangerous (remember: lots of stuff is absorbed into the bloodstream, including caffeine and sugar). These products don't contain the filters used in that study, and I think more research is needed on this before we suddenly decide that sunscreen ingredients that have been used for decades are 'dangerous'. The best sunscreen for you is the one you can use every single day and I don't want people avoiding sunscreen on the basis of this study when the significantly increased chance of skin cancer without it has been proven time and time again. Many POC simply can't do mineral sunscreen; even for myself, as someone who is pretty medium-skinned, I can't really go over an SPF 30 in a mineral formula without getting a white cast. At the same time, many people with very sensitive skin can't do chemical formulas because they're too irritating. I personally don't have sensitive skin, but my eyes are very easily bothered, so it can be a real issue if I'm not wearing a water / sweat resistant formula on a hot day because my chemical sunscreen will inevitably run into my eyes and burn!
It's worth noting that neither of these products make any claims regarding being long-wearing: they're everyday sunscreens, not the products you're going to reach for if you're going for a hike up a hill during the height of summer or for a day at the beach. Speaking of the beach, the other concern people have is that chemical sunscreens might contribute towards coral bleaching. It's not entirely clear which chemical sunscreens cause a problem (though Hawaii has banned a few filters, none of which are in the products I have here) or that mineral sunscreens are squeaky clean in this respect. For me, again, the best sunscreen is the one you're going to use correctly and regularly and sunscreens are nowhere near being one of the top causes of coral bleaching, whereas the risk of melanoma is pretty high if you're not practicing good sunscreen discipline. It's really a personal choice; if you can wear mineral comfortable then go for it, if not just use what you will wear. If you don't mind the texture or the white cast of mineral sunscreens for a day at the beach, when it's most likely your sunscreen will come off in the sea and come into contact with coral reefs then that seems a good compromise to me.
The other sunscreen thing to note here is that these products are both broad spectrum, meaning they protect against UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are what cause premature ageing, they can penetrate through glass windows and they're consistent throughout the year. The SPF on a sunscreen refers to UVB protection only, as there's actually no standardised global way of rating UVA protection (though you may have seen the star system in Europe and the PA system in East Asia). The recommendation is that if a product claims UVA protection or that it's 'broad spectrum', it must contain at least 1/3 the amount of UVA protection as it does UVB. UVB rays are those that cause burning, and they do fluctuate throughout the year, so if you aren't bothered about uneven pigmentation or skin ageing: you can just wear sunscreen during the summer. However, if you're reading this blog I'd assume you probably care about your skin looking good, you spend money on products for it and you're probably using the sorts of active ingredients that increase sun sensitivity, so I recommend applying it every day throughout the year (and using a broad spectrum formula). Though, I must admit I'm not as obsessive over applying enough and reapplying throughout the day if it's the middle of winter and I'm inside all day.
It's worth noting that Ultra Violette have tinted lip products and a hand / body cream with sunscreen in the range, and there are two mineral options: one is SPF 50 and one is SPF 30 and fragrance-free, so that's really your option for sensitive skin. I have no problem with fragrance in skincare but the two products I picked up do contain fragrance, and I thought it was worth pointing out because chemical sunscreens can be irritating in and of themselves, so for some people the combination might be too much.
All that out of the way: let's get into the products I picked up... If you'd like to see them in action, I filmed an application and white cast test of both products (using the recommended amount of product, as per the brand's website) which you can check out here. First, let's talk about the Queen Screen Luminising Sun Serum SPF 50 | £36. This very fluid formula is recommended for normal-to-dry skin and 3 pipettes of it are needed to achieve the advertised sunscreen coverage. One of my pet peeves are sunscreen brands that say you only need a couple of drops or a pea-sized amount or tell you to start mixing things in with your moisturiser / foundation, so I'm really glad they're recommending a reasonable amount here (and you get 50ml of product here to reflect that). This actually contains some really nice ingredients but I'm always slightly dubious of how many of them end up penetrating into the skin. If you cleanse and then use this and this alone: fine, but if you apply your moisturiser first (as sunscreen is supposed to be the final step in your routine) then they might have a hard time getting through it. There are fruit extracts in the formula like kakadu plum, which is a good source of Vitamin C, though it's not refined to give you all the benefits this ingredient can offer, this is still going to provide some antioxidant benefits. Something I just wanted to point out explicitly because this comes with a dropper: don't be tempted to mix this in with your serum / foundation / moisturiser. Sunscreens are designed to be a layer on top of your skin and you're seriously compromising the coverage and potentially even destabilising the formula by mixing it with something else. It's contending with enough just because of the natural uneven texture that human skin has, let's not totally decimate its coverage!
Talking about the product application: this has a light lotion-y texture and there's actually a very fine golden micro-sheen in the product, which I wasn't really expecting! It doesn't bother me and is a nice added primer benefit if you're wearing makeup. I would definitely agree it's for normal-to-dry skin because once you've applied the correct amount: the glow is real. I quite like it, to be honest, but if you're oilier that could venture into 'greasy' territory. The other thing to note is that this has very strong rose scent. Again, it's not something I personally find objectionable but I know some people find intense fragrance like this a bit much, so there's your heads up. As I wore the sunscreen throughout the day, I did have some mild eye irritation, but it wasn't anything major. I find this melts right into my skin to be virtually invisible with 3 pipettes of product, though I obviously can't say if this would verge into silvery on a deeper skin tone than mine. This sits really well under makeup; I experienced no pilling and it isn't at all heavy, due to the very fluid texture.
I also got the Supreme Screen Hydrating Facial Sunscreen SPF 50 | £34. This is again formulated with antioxidant fruit extracts (alongside hydrating, skin-plumping peptides) and it comes in a pump tube for the more lotion-cream texture. The brand recommends 5 pumps at least to get the full SPF 50 protection and this product actually has a bit of a peachy-neutral tint to it. This is billed as a sunscreen, moisturiser and primer all in one, though currently I'd use this on top of my moisturiser, I can definitely see myself using just this during the summer months though. Again, this is billed as being for normal-to-dry skin and it definitely brings the glow, though not quite to the extent that the serum formula does. This does also contain fragrance, as I mentioned before, but it's definitely not as noticeable in this product as it is with the serum (for those with migraines!)
This has a really light texture that melts into my skin with zero white cast, probably helped along with the slight tint. It doesn't smother my skin and it feels nice and moisturising. It doesn't pill up or make my makeup go on patchily; it genuinely does offer a great canvas and give me those priming benefits. I didn't notice any significant eye irritation with this product and I did go running whilst wearing this product and got a little bit sweaty. Overall, this is my favourite of the two and is already an everyday staple. My only negative really is how quickly it feels like I'm getting through it!
I hope this review was helpful. Have you bought any of their sunscreens or do you plan on it?