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Today I have two new sunscreens from well-trusted French Pharmacy brands to review for you. They're not super-affordable but the good news is that they're often on sale at Boots, Escentual, Look Fantastic and the other places you probably frequent. Let's jump into the formulas...
First up we have the Vichy Capital Soleil UV-Age Daily SPF 50+* | £21.This is formulated with both sunscreen filters and amazing skincare ingredients. In terms of filters we have octisalate, Uvinal T 150, Tinosorb S, avobenzone, Mexoryl L and Mexoryl XS. That's a real mix of the more modern European broad spectrum filters that protect against both UVA and UVB rays (including several that are patented by L'Oreal, who own Vichy), but also some of the older-style sunscreen ingredients. I don't have a huge problem with that, as these more old-school filters are a lot less potentially irritating (and more stable) when mixed in with multiple other filters. This has a super-light lotion texture, which I really like. The only thing I'd note is that I can kind of feel it when I apply it to my skin. I was recovering from COVID when I tried this so possibly there was still some inflammation in my skin, but I'd maybe avoid this if you're very sensitive. It was like a momentary contact feeling on my skin that immediately dissipated and I'm not sure why this product does that, though it does contain fragrance so possibly it's the result of that combined with some of these more traditional filters.
In terms of application; this is really quick and easy to spread and if you're sick of thick, heavy sunscreens that leave a white cast, this is so incredibly light and just melts right into my skin and leaves a totally shine-free finish. The only other negative I have for this product is that when I applied it on no-makeup days, I felt it kind of dried out my skin over the hours. I had a look at the INCI list and the second ingredient is denatured alcohol. This is often found in sunscreens as it stops them sitting and looking greasy on your skin, however it can be quite drying for the skin. I actually found it worked a lot better when I was wearing makeup; I guess perhaps it's my tinted moisturiser that seals things in a little better or adds more moisture? I'm not entirely sure. However it applies really well over my skincare, I have no issues with pilling and the way it sits under my makeup is also lovely. I'm just a little on the fence: the texture is one of the nicest I've come across, there are some other beneficial ingredients like niacinamide and Vitamin E in here, but the drying alcohol and momentary 'oooft' when I put it on keep me from recommending it more broadly. If you have very dry skin or sensitive skin: I don't think this is right for you. What a shame! Such a high level of broad spectrum protection in a drugstore accessible formula with this texture isn't easy to come by.
Next, let's talk about the La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Aquagel SPF 30 | £34.50. This is actually pretty pricey. I got it on offer for about £25 which is reasonable but not affordable. However, this formula is pretty unique and it's actually my favourite melting gel sunscreen I've tried so far, so if you have skin of colour and you're sick of products that leave a white cast or take ages to massage and absorb into your skin then this is a perfect option. Obviously, you're only getting SPF 30 so it's really important that you apply the correct amount and re-apply diligently, and I'd stick to using this on days when you're not spending hours out in the sun. It's broad spectrum but there's no UVA rating on the packaging so we have to default to the legal standard of at least 1/3 of the UVB protection. This melts in really nicely and it has denatured alcohol (it's pretty typical in sunscreens) but lower down on the INCI list and I don't get any of that drying feeling as I wear this one, so it's really all about formulation for me. Its filters are octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate and avobenzone as the more traditional components, and then we have some newer filters: Mexoryl XL and Uvinul T150. Really similar filters, totally different products and SPF ratings, which is why formulation is key!
I really like the look and feel of this on my skin, it's nice and hydrating with added benefits from the panthenol, hyaluronic acid, glycerin and Vitamin E. There's dimethicone in here too which means it feels very smooth on the skin and it also offers that occlusion to help seal in the water that some of these humectants pull into the skin. If you're very oily, you can definitely use it on its own. It feels very lightweight and hydrating but not at all greasy and isn't going to feel like too much as you continue to re-apply it. The other ingredients in here will be enough for oily skin in summer without the need for a moisturiser underneath, though I do still use one. It sits well under makeup without pilling up. I can't see that it's water-resistant but I've not had any issues with it running or stinging my eyes on some of the warmer days we've had lately. I won't gender this because some of my favourite skincare brands and Instagram accounts are run by men, but if you have a person (mine just happens to be a boyfriend) in your family who can't really be fussed with skincare: this is so easy. Slap it on, it's not white and can be massaged across the face in seconds, it's not greasy, it has those added hydrating benefits so can be a one-step morning routine.
I'm actually combining my demos with my Instagram upload promoting this post so - once that's live - I'll link it here.
So, there you have it: two new sunscreens from two of the biggest French pharmacy brands. Have you tried either formula?