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UVA, UVB, SPF; sometimes sun protection can feel like an acronym minefield. However, one thing that is clear is that over-exposure to the sun can have long lasting implications on our skin; from accelerating the development of wrinkles to increasing the risk of developing skin cancers.
Thankfully, SPF products have evolved from those that resembled white paint, which were sticky or greasy on the skin, took too long to absorb and left you looking ghostly pale. Now SPF protection is weaved seamlessly into high performance skincare, making it easier than ever to include vital protection into your daily skincare routine.
What does SPF, UVA and UVB mean?
If you are unsure of where to start when it comes to daily SPF protection, here is what you need to consider. You need to be looking for a product which protects against both UVA (sun rays which are always present) and UVB (sun rays which are responsible for burning).
You also need to be taking note of the level of SPF within your product. The number of SPF indicates the amount of time longer you can stay in the sun before burning takes effect. For instance, if you typically burn after 10 minutes in direct sunlight, wearing an SPF15 product will protect you for 15 times longer than that.
Finding the right daily facial SPF product not only depends on your skin type, but it also depends on what else you want the product to achieve.
Whether it’s providing hydration, sensitivity care or even make-up coverage, there is an SPF product for you.
Best for sensitive skin
If your skin is sensitive, high level SPF protection can be your worst nightmare, causing breakouts, rashes and discomfort. Enter La Roche Posay’s Anthelios Hydrating Cream.
With its high level of SPF, you can feel confident you are fully protected against harmful sun rays, yet this lightweight moisturiser is incredibly gentle to skin.
La Roche Posay uses limited chemicals within its formulas and ensures all products are hypoallergenic, making it mild and kind on application.
We loved that although this cream was super hydrating, leaving our complexion plump and radiant, it was absorbed very quickly and didn’t leave a greasy residue.
Best for moisturisation
If you tend to spend your mornings dashing about, you need an SPF which is combined with an existing part of your skincare routine. The Daily Essential Moisturiser from Alpha H is a premium face moisturiser first, sun damage protector second.
Enriched with moisture-trapping Vitamin E and aloe vera, this moisturiser keeps your skin super hydrated, while providing a matte finish to leave skin perfectly prepped for the day.
We enjoyed the almost whipped texture of this moisturiser, that was light to the touch, but packed a punch when injecting moisture to our skin.
Best for makeup coverage
Another great time saving product, the Complexion Rescue from Bare Minerals seems to have it all.
This hydrating tinted moisturiser includes SPF30, providing subtle coverage to even skin tone and cover blemishes whilst protecting your skin.
With 20 shades, you will be able to find a tone which provides a flawless finish.
We loved the blendability of this product, as well as the fact we could build the coverage if we wished, without the product sitting awkwardly on top of our skin.
Best for city dwellers
The Kiehl’s Daily Ultra Light Defense offers super high SPF protection as well as fighting the early signs of anti-aging with its antioxidant-rich formula.
However, the super power of this product is that it also protects against pollution, forming an impenetrable barrier against fumes and poor air quality, which can cause breakouts and skin dullness.
We loved the consistency of this formula, which was creamy enough to add deep moisturisation to our complexion, but light enough to absorb quickly into skin and form a solid base for our daily skin routine.
Best for high level protection
If you are blessed with a porcelain skin tone, you need a high level of SPF protection, especially if you manage to get abroad this summer.
The Nuxe Sun High Protection Fondant Cream not only smells like a Mediterranean sunset and has SPF50+, but is enriched with water hyacinth resulting in a super moisturising finish.
This cream is heavier than some of the others we tested, providing full protective coverage, however because of this, we would use this product on its own, perhaps while lounging around the pool or at the beach, rather than as a primer or a base.
Best for sustainability
If you are passionate about sustainable skincare, the Invisible Mineral Shield from Beauty Kitchen is the best way to get your SPF fix.
This lightweight primer, infused with SPF30, is mineral based, consisting of ingredients such as beeswax, sea buckthorn and almond oil, providing a dose of natural goodness to leave your skin feeling and looking healthy.
While white on first application, this primer melts into your skin as it is applied and settles beautifully, evening skin tone and allowing flawless makeup application.
Beauty Kitchen’s strong sustainability focus means that you know you are doing your bit when using their products; the packaging of this primer is fully recyclable and all Beauty Kitchen’s products are cruelty free.
Best for giving glow to your skin
We can’t not include this, despite it meaning two La Roche-Rosay products on this list, on account of what an absolute game-changer of a product it is.
Despite offering SPF 30 protection, this isn’t a cream, rather a watery-fluid, which spreads beautifully and leaves your skin feeling drenched, not sticky (thank you, hyaluronic acid and niacinamides).
It provides a perfect base if you’re adding foundation, but - hand on heart - this is one of the few hydrating products we’ve tried in the past few years that makes our face look better - glowy and plump, and well-rested - after use.
All that and sun protection too? As we said, game changer.
Best for lips
Protection: SPF 50+
It’s all well and good protecting your skin, but what about your lips? Lips are incredibly sensitive to sun exposure, so adding a lip balm with SPF to your daily routine is a must.
The Bondi Sands Moisturising Lip Balm contains high level protection to prevent chapping and dryness, as well as providing a sheer gloss and nourishing hydration, so your lips look plump and healthy.
With fruity fragrances such as Juicy Watermelon and Toasted Coconut, your lips can smell as if you are on a tropical island, even if you’re stuck at home.
Best for aftercare
If the British summer time hots up, and you do catch a little sunshine on your face, it’s best to provide some nourishing aftercare to soothe and rehydrate your skin.
This moisturiser from Terre Verdi is perfect for post-sunshine care. Enriched with cooling aloe vera, this will calm down reddened skin whilst adding a boost of much needed moisture.
Infused with brightening neroli, this product smells delicious and leaves your complexion feeling soft and looking radiant.