Face Facts – Essential Sun Protection

three spfs

If you’re here it means you’re interested in looking after your skin and protecting your face from sun damage, which is great news. Hopefully, you’ve also read my post Saving Face – My Sunbathing U-Turn, where I confess to my sunbathing mistakes and abuse of my skin over the years, just to remind you how important sun protection is and inspire you to keep it up.

To help you pick through the vast choice of sun protection creams for daily use here are five I’ve tested out from across a range of price brackets and well-known brands, which are specifically formulated to be used on the face. These are my personal views on the products, and there are of course loads more available, but hopefully it’ll save you having to test them all out too!



Boots No 7 SPF 50 tinted BB cream


SPF winner

Highlight: Built in Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced skincare technology.

Lowlight: If you want medium plus coverage this will be too light

I swore by Boots’ regular SPF 50 for face throughout last summer and am very happy to have discovered this new pimped up BB cream version. It comes with Boots’ Intense Advanced Protect and Perfect skin science as standard so is nurturing your skin while also protecting it, and it comes in two shades: light or medium/dark. I’m using light at the moment and find it preps my skin perfectly and there’s no need for any more base, except just a touch of concealer on blemishes (so if you prefer a more made-up look/heavier foundation I’d use the non-tinted cream and your regular base on top.) There’s no residue and you can use finishing powder/powder eyeshadow straight away. It’s very well priced and has maximum UVA protection too. Well bloody done. More info/buy



Eucerin Mattifying Fluid SPF 50


Highlight: Good base for make-up and oily skin

Lowlight: UVA rating?

This is a light fluid which absorbs into the skin easily and doesn’t leave any shine. Despite the lightness of the fluid, it did leave my skin feeling well-moisturised. Because it’s not too matt and doesn’t have that ‘chalky’ residue you can still apply your foundation onto it well and it will go on easily, with the added benefit of no sliding (yay!). Available at Boots and very reasonably priced I thought at £16. This gets the thumbs up. (There is also a cream option for drier skin. )



Skin Doctor’s Supermoist SPF 30


Highlight: Combined moisturiser and SPF

Lowlight: Not a good base for make-up

I like the idea of Skin Doctor’s products (because they’re Australian and I just love Oz) more than I like the products themselves, I’m sad to say. This cream doesn’t feel as though it nourishes the skin enough and I felt as though my face still needed moisturising. While my make up did go on over this base and looked ok, my skin felt slightly tight. It’s only a factor 30 too, so ok for autumn/winter use but not enough protection for spring/summer.



Dermalogica SPF 30


Highlight: Skin felt well-nourished

Lowlight: Left a ‘tacky’ coating

This is a rich cream which I’d say is more for holiday wear, not day-to-day wear. It takes a while to soak into the skin and does leave a bit of a shine. Because it feels as though it leaves a film on the skin, it doesn’t allow you to apply make up over without looking greasy and feeling ‘tacky’. My feeling is this is better for holidays or hot sunny days in the UK (when we get them!) when you’re going make-up free, as it does make your skin feel really well protected and moisturised. Although, in those cases, I would strongly recommend a factor 50 so based on this, it isn’t a product I would recommend overall. Available from Dermalogica salons and various online outlets, but recommend the Jersey Beauty Co.


Dermaquest Solar Moisturiser SPF 30


Highlight: Feels like a quality product

Lowlight: Too heavy for wearing under make-up

I’d put this in the same category as the Dermalogica cream in that it felt quite heavy on the skin. That is great if you’re wanting a cream that feels like a bit of a skin treatment but it’s not viable to use on a daily basis under your make up as it’s too ‘sticky’. Again, brilliant if you’re going make-up free or keeping it to a minimum and don’t mind the sheen (which does give a well-moisturised healthy look). Available in specialised salons and here: http://www.dermaquestinc.co.uk/products/solar-moisturizer-spf-30-2oz


The science bit…

A factor 30 cream blocks around 94 per cent of UV rays and factor 50 around 98 per cent, but you must use a generous amount or the effectiveness is significantly reduced. (And if you’re out in the sun, reapply during the day.)

UVA rays (the ones that penetrate deeper into your skin and cause ageing) are around all of the time, even when it’s cloudy or if you’re indoors. (Do you sit near a window all day in your office or drive a lot? Then beware, windows do cut out the UVB rays responsible for burning, but not UVA!)

When you choose an SPF cream for your face, also look for the UVA rating, which is usually depicted by stars in a circle. This is how much the cream protects you from photo-ageing. A five star ‘ultra’ rating is what you should be aiming for.

The Skin Cancer Foundation advices the sunscreen we use should include some combination of the UVA-blocking ingredients: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone, ecamsule, and oxybenzone, which essentially means both chemical and physical blockers, so you’re covering all bases really. The physical blocks (mainly zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) are the ones which can leave more of a chalky residue, but can be much better for you if you have sensitive skin and are therefore more likely to get a rash in reaction to the chemical ingredients.

Look out for new products which also deal with Infrared A-induced skin aging, which penetrates even further than UVA. This is quite new technology and will no doubt lead to new product development across most product houses over time.

What’s your ‘Can’t Live Without’ sun protection product and why?

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