Today I thought I'd do something a little different and share the best sunscreens I've discovered since last summer (with the view to updating this each year, which is why you don't see some of my older favourites pictured) and I've really tried to whittle it down by making myself pick one item per brand only! All of these formulas are broad spectrum (I'll note the PA rating where it's disclosed but otherwise, regulations require the UVA rating to be at least 1/3 of the UVB SPF rating) and, though I think SPF 30 can be fine when it's not summer or you're inside mostly, I do prefer higher so we've got one SPF 45 and the rest are 50. These are the products that made the cut...
First up, I recently discovered a really great all-mineral formula in the Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Face Shield SPF 50 PA +++ in Glow | £24.50 | see it in action. This comes in a number of shades, including more in the Flex matte formula they recently released, and isn't that expensive compared to most of the mineral formulas on the market (here in the UK, you will not find mineral sunscreen at the drugstore). I have the shade Glow, which is pretty true to my skin tone and I feel comfortable wearing it on its own out and about on no-makeup days. It has this light, fluid texture that's a world away from the thick white 'sunblock' effect I associate with mineral formulas. It's elegant, it's 40 minutes water resistant and it has a radiant finish as opposed to the matte, flat look favoured in the formulations of most mineral sunscreens. I've tried a good dozen and this one is amongst the very best on the market, in my humble opinion.
Next is a favourite of mine that I actually used a lot during the cooler months: the Thank You Farmer Water Project Sun Cream SPF 50+ PA+++ | £18 | see it in action. This came out of sunscreengeddon unscathed, breezing through its further testing. This isn't water-resistant, so I've tended to reach for more heavy-duty products over summer, but what a beautiful formula! It's very much water-based, as the name suggests, and kind of just melts into the skin. It's lightweight and gives the skin a healthy, dewy glow. It works perfectly under makeup and is a great option for that 'every single day' protect you wear to the office, the shops or out for lunch.
It was tough to pick my favourite from this brand, as I really enjoy both of their most popular facial sunscreens, however the Garnier Ambre Solaire Anti-Dryness Protection Cream SPF 50+ | £6. Ok, so this is a small tube, but for £6: I really can't complain! This offers a high level of protection, it has some water resistance in there and it's also an elegant formula that works beautifully under makeup. It has a light but moisturising texture, so provided you apply this generously (like a sunscreen) it can double as your moisturiser. I wouldn't recommend this for oily skin, but on me I love how it melts in with no white cast and no pilling when I apply makeup over the top of it.
Next, we have my second mineral pick: the Skingredients Sun Shield SPF 50 PA +++* | £41 | see it in action. This is another one of the most elegant mineral sunscreens I've ever used, though it only comes in this one peachy tint that I wouldn't go for if you're any deeper than me. I've heard a deeper version is in the works, but we all know that sunscreens aren't quick and easy to formulate, so it could be a while. This has such a light, fluid texture, and has a hydrating finish with added antioxidant benefits. I don't like a matte sunscreen, generally, as it seems like they undo all the hard work of my hydrating skincare routine! This is a great alternative to those formulas, softening, smoothing and hydrating my skin. It melts in effortlessly and doesn't leave behind any white cast, plus is great under makeup.
I'm sure if you follow me on Instagram, you've seen me wax lyrical over the Hello Sunday the One That's a Serum SPF 45 Drops* | £20 | see it in action. The reason I love this formula is because it's not only your sunscreen but a beautiful under-makeup primer (just make sure you apply enough). If you love a dewy skin look: pop this on before you do your makeup and it's just beautiful. It has a light serum-like texture (don't mix it with anything or apply it at the serum stage, just use it as a normal sunscreen) that melts in beautifully and gives a glowing finish.
Another great option to wear under your makeup is the Ultra Violette Supreme Screen Hydrating Facial Sunscreen SPF 50+ | £34 | see it in action. This can definitely double as a moisturiser during the summer months and it's a gorgeous makeup primer in and of itself, leaving my skin soft and smooth. As long as you apply the correct amount; it's the great one-step product to go on after your serum then you can go straight in with your makeup. It's glowy but not overly shiny on my skin. The brand recommends it for normal-to-dry skin and I'd tend to agree. The radiance might be a bit much if you're oily! However, if you have similar skin to me: this is a perfect 'sunscreen that doesn't feel like a sunscreen'. Both this and the Hello Sunday formulas contain next-generation filters to avoid white cast and irritation and to allow for a lightweight texture (this feels like a lotion on the skin).
Finally, we have a great do-it-all. If you just want one product, for travel or for ease then the Supergoop Play Everyday Lotion SPF 50 with Sunflower Extract | £20 | see it in action. This is really quite impressive, particularly for a US formula: it comes in a light lotion that melts really easily into my skin. It's a high level of protection and has good water-resistance, so is suitable for wearing to the beach or out exercising; it won't run into your eyes or drip down your face. At the same time, the texture means it can easily be used under makeup with no pilling! It can also be used on face and body, making it a great product if you just want one sunscreen in your life.
I kind of forgot to pick it up because it's a mist that I keep in my handbag for top-ups over makeup, as opposed to something I apply in the morning for full protection, but I also wanted to shout out the amazing Ultrasun Face & Scalp Mist SPF 50 | £18 | see it in action! It's water-light, super-fine and will leave your makeup still looking perfect (or, however it looks when you take off your mask...)
Check out my recent sunscreen reviews for further details on these products and how others worked for me here.
What do you think of my 2021 sunscreen picks?