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Institut Esthederm Suncare Guide

I’ve had lots of people asking about Institut Esthederm’s amazing sun products, so I thought that I’d do a quick overview. The fact is that Institut Esthderm do things a little unconventionally – they don’t work with the traditional “SPF” rating and they can’t tell you, really, what level of “protection” you’re getting from a product. This is because their suncare helps the skin to gradually adapt to the sun and protect itself rather than just blocking or filtering the rays. It’s all pretty complicated stuff and Institut Esthederm have been researching, developing and testing these products for decades, but it works. I have used quite a few different products from different ranges now, and not only do they offer superb protection (note that you MUST use a strength suitable to your environment and exposure level!) they also help the skin to develop a more uniform colour.

You have to take a little leap of faith with Institut Esthederm’s Adaptasun range, because of the absence of that all-important SPF rating. We’re very used to grabbing an SPF 30 and believing that it will do the job – if it’s not that sunny we might use an SPF 15, or if it’s really hot we might search out an SPF 50 – but we trust in those numbers, they satisfy our “health and safety” requirements. We know where we stand with the SPF, but with something that claims to make your skin do the work? It’s a little scary, I suppose. But for me, the Esthederm products really are up there with the Rolls Royces of suncare – advanced, hi-tech formulas that minimise the harmful effects of UV radiation whilst grabbing hold of the positive effects. For someone like me who loves to spend time in the sunshine and get a light, safe tan, these products are simply perfect.

So here’s little guide to my tried-and tested products – if you’re wondering which Institut Esthederm products would suit your skin, then hopefully this will be of help!

1) Adaptasun Tanning Face Cream, available for Normal-Strong Sun or for Extreme Sun. (£31.50 with free delivery from FeelUnique.com) This promotes a nice, even colour without letting your skin burn. It doesn’t clog the skin or make it feel greasy and it sits nicely beneath makeup, should you want to wear any. It’s brilliant, but in my opinion, an even better option would be…

…the Bronz Repair Anti-Wrinkle Tanning Cream. (If you want to read the full review, it’s here.) At first I couldn’t see much of a difference between this and the Adaptasun, but after lots of testing I do find that this works a little better at giving my face an even, sunkissed glow. My face doesn’t tan that easily (my body does) and so it’s no mean feat that I can get a beautiful, light tan after just a few hours using the Bronz Repair. It is more expensive (£49.50 with free delivery from FeelUnique.com) but I think that the extra cost is justified – this is an “anti-wrinkle” version and the ingredients have been whacked up a notch or two for a really high-powered sun cream.

2) Adaptasun Tanning Spray for the body. A spritz-on water that works in the same way as all the Adaptasun products, encouraging the skin to protect itself for a fast, safe tan. You really will find that you tan more quickly and evenly after using this spray and it’s really convenient to apply. No stickiness, no greasiness, it just sinks straight in. (£35.10, FeelUnique.com as before.) I use it in the “run up” to my hols, too – you can do that with any of the Adaptasun products. They almost “prime” the skin for sun exposure.

3) Sun Intolerance High Protection Face Cream (£36.90 FeelUnique.com) helps sun-sensitive skin to adapt to moderate sun exposure. This doesn’t allow someone who usually can’t abide any sun exposure to go and sit on a sand-dune in the Sahara – that would just be asking for trouble! But instead of just shielding the skin, this cream actively helps the skin to become accustomed to the sun whilst minimising the risk of reactions. Clever stuff! Great for the kind of sunshine that you’d get on an average summer’s day in the UK, but if it was baking hot you’d want to tread carefully. As with anything to be used on sensitive or sun-sensitive skin, take baby-steps when trying something new out for the first time!

4) The Wonder Product. UV In Cellium Spray. This is getting its own review soon, because it is absolutely incredible. A water spray that contains many of the same ingredients as the Adaptasun, it again helps the skin to adapt to its environment. You simply spray this on as you would any facial spritz or mist, and you have some moderate protection. It can be sprayed under or over makeup and it’s the most brilliant makeup-setting spray! (£31.50 from FeelUnique)


  1. There is a very slight chance I may be going to Malaysia in the next three weeks…is it really worth trying for a very sensitive fair person who burns? (God, I hope I find my passport in time and can also figure out to deal with equatorial conditions!)

    • @Upa it’s worth using in the run-up, I think, and then tentatively once you get there! But definitely as a “prep” to get your skin accustomed to the sun! x

    • @Ruth – Another amazing post! If you’re not a model I can imagine you being a beauty journalist – not exaggerating (or you can always be both). I love reading your blog entries as they’re so insightful and easy to read. The other products from Institute are also amazing – the Vitamin A concentrated is pretty much turned into my day/night moisturiser that I’ve stopped using the Estee Lauder AVR at night and for what it does it’s not heavy on oily skin like mine but yet so hydrating. It’s also overtaken Bio Oil to help with my acne scars (YUCK!). A tiny request Ruth, can you consider doing a video/blog post for scalp care? I know this might sound a bit weird but I think a lot of us have problems with this which we avoid – either oily, or dry or combination scalp, I believe we’re all in a battle to getting to the right place with our scalp. My hairdresser have always said drink lots of water and using the right shampoo but I think there’s more to it and I’m confident that you’re the right person to investigate! Hugggggiiieeessssss to Mr Bear!

      @Upa I got really excited when you mentioned you might be going to Malaysia – that’s home for me! Do get a really good sun protectant as it’s serious business with the sun out there.

      • Thanks so much Azwin, I shall put that on the list! x

        • Thank you, Aswin! I leave on Friday, 22nd, for my son’s wedding! I am madly hunting up as much info as I can find. Any suggestions/info would be appreciated (at my blog?).

          Ruth, you are a dear and have great timing. After I read your interview on the bridal blog, I thought to put “Malaysia” into the search and found a few thoughts that may steer me in the right direction for my gazzillion questions!

          KL, here I come, ready or not! xx

  2. The names on each product tells you all you need to know, don’t they; normal-strong, extreme sun, Sun Intolerance. Innovative approach to sun care too. You explained it beautifully Ruth.

    I would love to try more of this line, but they’re way out of my bijou beauty budget.

  3. Yay, the Institut Esthederm post we’ve all been waiting for ;) But I still have a question: how often do you have to reapply those during the day?

    • @Ruby Blue it says every two hours or so, but I probably only reapply once a day if it’s “normal” British summer (ie not that hot!) If I’m abroad and it’s scorching I reapply the same amount of times as I would with regular suncare x

  4. Anyone living somewhere they are having a proper summer (unlike UK) should consider these..Heliocare Skin Protecting Pills, they are an oral dietary supplement with antioxidant properties which help maintain the skin’s ability to protect against sun-related effects and ageing. I’m not saying abandon your sunscreen’s SPF’s as you still need to use them.. But these do work and anyone where its very sunny.. I’d say use them. Also have you heard of coffee bean sun screen products? as the husk of the coffee bean has been proven to be VERY effective against sun damage..There are a couple of companies that use this ingredient, because it was shown that coffee bean pickers had unusually youthful skin, considering they work in the sun.. It seems to be highly effective at protecting, and giving the skin good nutrients.. Here though in UK, we’re just damn lucky to get any sun.. comeback blue skies.. I need you!!!

  5. So glad you reviewed this line. I’ve been using Institut Esthederm for over a year since seeing the sun care video Lisa Eldrige posted. I have porcelain skin that is usually completely allergic to sun creams and the sun. I do not tan, I just have to look at the sun and I burn.
    I tried this for the first time when I visited a Middle Eastern country in 50+ heat. I did not burn (3-4 applications a day) for the whole 3 weeks I was there. I used the extreme sun glacier and tropics cream. I used it on my face and body (as it was expensive) and I came home with a light golden tan. Since then I now use the anti wrinkle bronze repair on my face all year round. I still use the extreme sun on my body on days when the sun and heat are unexpected but generally I use the normal to strong sun cream (I live by the beach so it’s great for daily protection) I really hope more people take the plunge with this range. Visit your local Space.NK and ask them to test whichever product is right for you to your face and arms. That way you don’t waste money if it’s no good for you! 

  6. They(not the tanning one) usually leave a heavy white cast on my skin, so I’d have to only use a ridiculously small amount that doesn’t feel like enough protection. Does this happen to you too?

  7. Ruth, have you tried any of the other institut estherderm products, besides the suncare ranges?
    I was eyeing the Pore Refiner Concentrate?xxx tx

    • @Claire yes. The In Cellium water is amazing, so are the targeted treatments (vitamin c, vit a) and the hydra system moisturiser is lovely too! xx

  8. I’m hesitating between “Reverse” and “Intolerance”, more leaning towards “Reverse” (as I have some pigmentation though not much), but got a bit scared by Minshu’s comment.
    Ruth, do you think one can walk on the street with “Reverse”, I mean go to the supermarket, chemists, etc.?

    Have a nice week-end, everyone x

  9. Thanks Ruth, I’d appreciate since these products aren’t cheap.

    By the way, I find Feelunique’s price in Euros not bad at all. Where I live this brand is sold mostly by beauticians, not in shops, and the small difference doesn’t pay for the petrol to drive to the nearest salon.

  10. The UV In Cellium Spray is amazing, Suncreams always get stuck in my stubble !! no im not a lady with hormone problems:)
    This spray is wonderful , i apply my normal skin care and then a quick spray over the top and thats that. even in the hot sun a few weeks ago my skin was so well protected and it didnt go dry or wrinkly and no pigmentatiion either. I am very amzed how this works but then again who cares :) it does work!!

    • Ah, Daniel, I have missed your comments! I think that my security software has been blocking your comments for some reason! Hopefully solved now? x

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