There were many years in which serious skincare stopped when the sun came out. As my time outdoors increased and it became appropriate to wear a dedicated sunscreen, I’d drop my more sophisticated day cream lest I suffocate under all the layers, or die of boredom applying them. Now we needn’t pick our battles – the new crop of sunscreens has more to offer than mere protection from sunburn. They incorporate the kinds of clinical skincare ingredients found in troubleshooting serums and creams, allowing (vital) protection without compromise.
I’ll begin with SkinCeuticals Advanced Brightening UV Defense SPF50 (£45 for 40ml), because it’s among my favourite launches of the year. This was made for you if you have sunspots or brown patches, providing not only broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection, but a dose of tranexamic acid, proven to be effective on uneven pigmentation, as well as niacinamide – similarly great for redness and enlarged pores. The silky, ungreasy texture of this unarguably pricey sunscreen is bliss: you can feel the money in the elegant glide and subtle gleam of the finish – minus any white cast, despite the inclusion of mica and titanium dioxide. (I wrote about invisible sunscreens a couple of weeks ago.) It sits beautifully under makeup, and if a high-quality sunscreen is something you prioritise, it’s worth the splurge.
A little less costly, and a godsend if your skin is oily, spotty, congested and shiny, is Heliocare 360 Gel Oil-Free SPF50 (£25 for 50ml). The inclusion of antioxidant vitamins C and E, boosted by their ever-helpful friend ferulic acid, makes this a solid choice for anyone, but it’s the smooth, matte, dry-touch finish that will delight the many who associate adequate sun protection with a lard-slicked complexion. I’m not sure technically I’d call it a gel, but it’s a far cry from heavy creams and lotions, and it sailed through my finicky sunscreen test by sitting obediently under makeup without rolling or pilling as I blended.
There’s been a significant and justifiable buzz around Garnier Ambre Solaire’s Ultra-Light Sensitive Face Fluid SPF50+, at only £7 for 40ml. Its very light texture absorbs instantly and unstickily, then sets matte without drying out skin, thanks to the inclusion of hyaluronic acid (which everyone of any skin type or colour should already be incorporating into their routine). It doesn’t sting my eyes – so many do – and feels like a much pricier product than it is. I applied all after my usual serum, in place of moisturiser, before any makeup.
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