I think that most of us are now pretty clued up about the fact that sunscreen needs to be a mandatory part of our beauty routines. We’ve long known about the risk of skin cancer but sun exposure is also the leading cause of skin ageing. So if there’s one singular thing we can do to keep skin looking youthful then it’s – drumroll – wearing SPF.
It’s becoming less of a hardship to incorporate sunscreen into a morning routine; there are so many sophisticated formulas with beautiful textures and not all of them cost the earth. Yet there are a few persistent problems with SPF that put people off time and time again. I thought I’d address them one by one and give a few sunscreen recommendations and usage tips. Hopefully, if you find sunscreens problematic, this will bring you some relief.
SPF Problem: Sunscreen Stinging My Eyes
Sunscreen stinging your eyes is a common problem and one experienced nearly every day in my household because my husband insists on applying his SPF by putting it in the palms of his hands, slapping them together like a wrestler going in for the kill and then enthusiastically – some might say violently – rubbing the lotion all over his face, including over his closed eyelids. He then goes outside to do an energetic domestic/light industrial task, such as chainsawing down a dead tree or drilling a hole in the side of the house, and inevitably sweats. Then come the bitter tears of sunscreen-sting.
How can you avoid sunscreen stinging your eyes? Firstly, find a formula that has been specifically formulated to avoid the sting. Mineral sunscreens are a great bet here because they don’t contain the chemical filters that tend to be the culprit for eye-stinging and also from my experience have a more matte finish that’s less likely to melt and move on the skin.
Try Ultra Violette’s Lean Screen SPF50 (at Space NK here*) is a gorgeous high protection sunscreen with a matte finish – absolutely no eye problems with this one! For a cheaper mineral SPF take a look at Hawaiian Tropic’s SPF30 Skin Milk mineral sunscreen – it’s really lightweight and costs about a tenner for a whopping 150ml. You can find it online here*, it’s a great value option.
If you prefer a sunscreen with chemical filters then I’ve tried a lot and can say that Anthelios Ultra with Sensitive Eyes Innovation (online here*) categorically does not sting mine. Maybe its the aforementioned “Sensitive Eyes Innovation”, which locks the oils in the formula into micro-crystals to stop them migrating eyewards. Great as a daily SPF, it’s very moisturising and made for sensitive skin.
You can also try a stick sunscreen (I really like the one from Sun Bum here*) so that you can apply in a more targeted manner, but I find that one of the most helpful tricks is to very lightly powder on top of your sunscreen around the eye area with your normal translucent setting powder. (Max Factor’s Creme Puff* is one of the oldest and still one of the best – it’s also really cheap!)
Just that light dusting of powder can sometimes be enough to stop an oilier sunscreen formula from creeping into the eyes and making them feel as though they’ve been mercilessly set on fire then repeatedly doused with vinegar.
Any other tips for sunscreen application to avoid stinging? Let me know in the comments below. Here’s a little video that basically says everything I’ve mentioned above. Trying to cater for all media-usage tastes, here…
I’ve been sunscreen testing again and these are my current five SPF favourites. I’m pretty picky when it comes to sunscreen for the face – I like a lightweight feel and a traceless finish – but thankfully formulations have improved massively over the past few years and there are so many excellent versions to choose from.
I’m a big fan of the high protection lightweight SPF fluids such as Anthelios from La Roche-Posay (you can find the incredible new UVMune 400 Fluid online here*), Beauty Pie Featherlight UV (£12.50 to members here* – use affiliate code RUTHSENTME for money off membership if you’re a new sign-up) and Bondi Sands Hydra SPF50+ (online here*); but my current favourites all have a really fresh, gel-like feel on application. Almost cooling. I also think that I keep coming back to them again and again because I don’t really need to use a moisturiser underneath them, which is actually something I forgot to mention in the video below. They’re all intensely hydrating and sit well directly beneath makeup and won’t leave a white cast on the skin.
A quick note on SPF: three of my favourites are SPF30, which offer less protection than SPF50. I realise that for some that might be a dealbreaker, but when it comes to sunscreen, especially for the face, I think it’s important to find a texture that you enjoy applying and that works well within your routine and lifestyle. If you absolutely detest your sun protection and dread applying it then you’re a) probably not going to apply enough to reach the stated protection and b) possibly going to skip applications when you’re feeling lazy. Find an SPF for the face that you love and it just becomes part of your morning beauty line-up. If it’s an SPF50 then all the better.
Let’s get cracking with the “best sunscreens for face if you hate using sunscreens on your face” feature.
Skin Generics Niacinamide + Osmo City SPF30, £32.95 at Superdrug*
This is the most weightless facial SPF I’ve ever tried. It really feels just like water jelly. It’s lighter even than something like Clinique’s Moisture Surge. Completely disappears on the skin. Feels satisfyingly cool on a hot day. It is quite heavily fragranced and comes in a glass jar – which isn’t ideal for travelling – but the texture is simply supreme.
Murad Essential-C Day Moisture SPF30, currently £51 instead of £60 at FeelUnique*
If you’re after the same fresh feel but more of a comforting cream than a gel texture then Murad’s Day Moisture is just beautiful. For me it’s the ideal daily-use day cream: sophisticated moisturisation and antioxidant protection with a broad spectrum SPF30. This is also perfumed but smells slightly orangey and optimistic. It’s more expensive than the rest of the facial sunscreens on this page but it’s Murad, so I always feel I’m getting the appropriate results for the extra spend. The formulation is beautiful – deeply hydrating but no grease left on the skin.
La Roche-Posay HyaluB5 Aquagel SPF30, currently on sale (£25 instead of £34.50) at FeelUnique*
The gel-lest feeling gel SPF after Skin Generics, La Roche-Posay’s HyaluB5 is also delightfully cool on application but has a twist to the tale: as you glide it over the skin it becomes a sort of gel-gloss with long-lasting hydration that feels somehow sealed in. For those with dehydrated skin it’s an absolute dream. If I was very oily then I’d probably go for the Skin Generics just because it feels so fresh and weightless but the Hyalu pips it to the post in terms of packaging. Much more convenient in a pump!
Paula’s Choice Youth Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid, £35 but in the sale at Paula’s Choice here*
This brilliant SPF50 from Paula’s Choice might just be my new favourite overall sunscreen for the face. It’s as light and fresh to apply as the Murad but has the benefit of higher protection. (It’s also half the price.) No residue after application yet it manages to feel very moisturising and sits quietly underneath any makeup you decide to plonk on top. It’s just such a good all-rounder. Expect to hear more on this one.
Ultra Violette Supreme Screen SPF50, £34 at SpaceNK*
This SPF from Australian Brand Ultra Violette has been “trending” which means, apparently, that lots of people are talking about it. For good reason: it offers very high protection in a formula that goes on like silk and then completely disappears. Australians do sunscreen like nobody else, you’re almost guaranteed to get a well though-out formula and this is no exception. It has perhaps slightly more sheen than the others at first but quickly dries to a satin finish. I’d say it’s very slightly suited to drier skin rather than oily but Ultra Violette also do a mattifying version that’s mineral* (there’s is zinc-only) if you prefer a physical sunblock.
Do you have any favourite sunscreens for the face you’d like to suggest I try? Let me know in the comments, please. I’ve found some excellent products through the comment section here on the blog!
Struggling to find a sunscreen that doesn’t make you want to claw your own face off with one of those plastic spaghetti spoons? My three current favourites might give you some inspiration. They’re all virtually undetectable on the skin with pleasant, lightweight formulas and broad spectrum protection.
And I’ll tell you something else about my favourite face SPFs: you can just about get away with skipping moisturiser underneath them. Unless my skin is very dry indeed, I find that a quick pat-in of hydrating serum is all I need before (liberally) applying my sunscreen.
(Actually, the Lumene serum from my April favourites would be gorgeous beneath sunscreen, if you’re all about trying to minimise your layers. I know I am, when the weather starts to turn warm; I can’t abide the feeling of eighteen different products on my skin and prefer to keep things as simple as possible.)
So here they are: my Holy Grail trilogy. It wasn’t difficult to narrow my favourites down to these, because I simply went along my bathroom shelf and swept off the three I’ve used the most. Because surely if I use them the most then there’s a reason for that? Otherwise I’d be an idiot.
Elizabeth Arden Great 8 SPF35
I’ve done a full review on this marvellous facial sunscreen here but as a recap: this is one of the lightest, freshest, coolest SPFs I’ve ever tried. It’s quick to sink in, there’s absolutely no residue whatsoever and it sits brilliantly beneath makeup.
The Body Shop Skin Defence Multi-Protection Lotion SPF50
This is a new one to me and a total gem. Much more hydrating than the Arden, but with that comes an extra bit of heft. It’s not nearly as weightless and fresh, but those with dry or very dry skin will appreciate the relative creaminess. If your skin is very dry you’ll want a standalone moisturiser under all of these favourites, so it’s almost by-the-by.
Multi-Protection Lotion has a silky feel and doesn’t leave anything much in the way of residue, at least not after a few minutes, but you definitely feel the effects of the moisturiser even hours later.
Find it at The Body Shop here* – it’s £18 for 40ml or £22 for 60ml.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Invisible Fluid
Or “Shaka Fluid” as I seem to be intent on calling it. Maybe because it now has “shaka” emblazoned on the packaging, but I can’t remember whether that’s a new thing or not. Whatever you want to call it, it’s excellent – absolutely light and sheer and without greasiness or chalkiness or any kind of annoying SPF side-effect.
La Roche-Posay are brilliant at formulating for sensitive skin and for spot-prone skin and for skin that is both at the same time – the Anthelios range has something for everyone, pretty much. But this particular version is fragrance free, very water resistant and won’t clog pores. You can’t really go far wrong. Just remember to shake! (Shaka shaka!)
It’s usually £17.50 but is currently £13.50 at LookFantastic here*.
Now, there are two little surprise “extra” sunscreens in this post – perfect for those who have to reapply their sunscreen throughout the day but need to do so over their makeup, without disturbing it.
I’m afraid I’m going to be incredibly irritating and tell you to watch the end of the video I’ve made to find out all about them – there will be a separate post on them quite soon, but I need to go and extract part of Spiderman’s Web Thrower from inside my dog’s mouth before he swallows it. I can’t even imagine what would come out of the other end if he digested that!
For those who absolutely, resolutely refuse to watch moving image, the SPF mists are linked below the video. The rest of you, enjoy the sounds of my springtime garden!
Kate Somerville Uncomplikated SPF50 Mist, £32 but new customers get 15% off and a free gift (see her home page)*: https://bit.ly/3b9x9BR
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible SPF50 Mist – should be £14 but is currently £10.50 here*: https://bit.ly/3caZPfg