The best SPFs offer broad-spectrum UV protection against the sun’s rays, while also providing a wearable finish that isn’t sticky, cloying, or overly noticeable on the skin – aka the dreaded white cast.
With sunscreens steadily improving for all skin tones, and with a coterie of wearable creams, sprays, and gels available, there’s simply no excuse to skip this all-important step. Not least because wearing it helps prevent both sunburn and premature skin ageing, such as wrinkling and hyperpigmentation.
To help guide your choices, CF’s beauty editor tried and tested the very best SPFs for face and body, to create an edit of the best formulas to wear both at home and abroad during the summer…
Considering this SPF is one of my desert island beauty recommendations, it's not surprising that currently this is the SPF I'm telling everyone to buy. It's a bonus that's it's not expensive either. The hydrating formula applies just like a serum, and while I'd wait a minute before applying makeup to avoid piling, it's unnoticeable on the skin once on, while providing the SPF50 protection you need in the sunshine.
If you find applying SPF a chore, my biggest recommendation is making it a luxurious experience in the summer. The right formulas can even replace your day-to-day body moisturiser as long as you don't have super dry skin. In that regard, Sisley's silky sun cream is quite rightly celebrated for its ability to add a glossy glow to your limbs. Its packaging is chic enough you'll actually want to take it out of your bag to reapply too.
It was Citizen Femme's founder – a fellow advocate for wearing SPF everyday – that introduced me to this lightweight sunscreen, which achieves where so many SPFs fails – it really does look transparent on the majority of skin tones. Following her lead, you can use it as your combined sunscreen and moisturiser step, for sun protection that's actually been endorsed by the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Those with sensitive skin types know the minefield SPF can be, but La Roche Posay is always the go-to brand I recommend if you struggle with redness, itchiness, and breakouts. Every product in the Anthelios range, including this lightweight cream that is always in my carry-on when I fly, makes applying (and touching up) your sunscreen stress-free.
For anyone who likes to keep busy with active pursuits during the summer, you need to get your hands on Lancaster. Not only does the brand instantly remind me of holidays, but you can also trust its water-resistant claims, and its lightweight, non-oily finish. While no tan is a safe tan when it comes to skin cancer, if you do pick up some colour, the formula will even help prolong your tan – so you are less tempted to top it up.
Trusted by our head of graphic design to not leave a white cast on her skin, Ultra Violette's hydrating sunscreen is deliberately designed to work with the rest of your skincare and makeup – meaning no piling or stickiness. As well as offering SPF 50 protection, the addition of Vitamin C-rich kakadu plum and dragosine means it protects against the complexion-dulling effect of pollution and blue light. In fact, your skin is left so radiant and dewy, you may well forgo foundation all together this summer.
Heliocare is probably the most highly rated suncare brand amongst aesthetic doctors, and it's often recommended for individuals who are undergoing acne treatments such as roaccutane that can make your skin so sun-sensitive you need to actively avoid it. That means if you have a complexion that does tend to burn rather easily, you can trust both this easy-to-apply mist and the full range of the brand's facial solutions with confidence.
The SPF for the city-dweller who wants to not only stay safe in the sun, but also tackle some other side effects caused by the rather unfortunate combination of sun exposure and pollution. The formula contains tranexamic acid and niacinamide, alongside factor 50 protection, which can tackle and protect against hyperpigmentation to keep your skin looking radiant and even in tone year-round.
REN's facial SPF is here to help anyone with an oilier complexion or for those who tend to find that traditional formulas break them out. Instead of common chemical filters, the brand uses the mineral shield zinc oxide, to offer broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. The inclusion of rice starch means you can still achieve the mattified finish you love while wearing it too.
If summer to you means getting in and out of the pool or sea, you know the pain of worrying about whether you are burning while in the water. This gel-like SPF with its 'high water resistant' rating settles those nerves until its time to reapply, with a pore-blurring finish that ensures your complexion stays looking fresh and hydrated throughout the day.
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Image credit: REN