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!