The recent prolonged spate of hot weather has given me a good chance to do some proper sunscreen testing. I’ve tested matte ones, mineral ones, budget ones and ones that require a second mortgage; moisturising sunscreens, apply-once sunscreens and mists that are perfect for a top-up.
And how can I possibly tell one from another, you might ask? How can I possibly put that many sunscreens on and remember what the first one was like? Well, people, there’s a method to my sunscreen-testing madness, and it is this:
I cover half of my face with a “control” sunscreen. Which sounds highly scientific but really isn’t. Half of my face wears this control SPF, one that I’m very familiar with, and then the other half tests the new stuff.
This might sound utterly barmy, but it helps me to rule out weird, isolated conditions that might affect my opinion – for example, my face being particularly dry one day, or uncharacteristically greasy. It could be that a new serum is creating havoc with anything I apply on top of it, or that I’ve accidentally left a cleanser on (has happened) and my skin feels ridiculously tight and tacky. If I don’t wear a familiar sunscreen alongside the new one then I find it quite difficult to make objective observations about it and draw comparisons with the other products I’ve tested.
And the sunscreen that I’m so familiar with that I could probably pick it out from a hundred others with my eyes closed is the Anthelios XL from La Roche-Posay. This is a velvet-finish, non-chalky sunscreen with broad spectrum SPF50 protection (UVA and UVB, so protection against the rays that Age and the rays that Burn) and it’s unbelievably lightweight. I’ve been using it for years and prefer it to the other products in the Anthelios range (the cream and the anti-shine versions) because it sits the most smoothly and invisibly beneath makeup.
(Some have reported cases of “pilling” or “balling up” with Anthelios, but I’ve never experienced this and have used it hundreds of times. I do wonder whether it depends on what you apply beneath it, but then I’ve layered it over facial oils, water-based serums and heavy moisturisers without any problem. Comments below if you have any anecdotal material to share, please!)
Anyway, I’ve mentioned Anthelios more times than I talk about Mint Choc Magnums so regular readers will be no stranger to this recommendation; I suppose I just wanted to give you my sunscreen testing methodology before I began the reviews proper.
And it does speak volumes that I use this very compact, unfragranced sunscreen again and again, almost as my default product – if you have combination/oily skin then it’s a dream. My skin does tend to get a little oily in the summer months, which is why I tend to plump for this lightweight sunscreen over a much more moisturising option, especially when I’m testing, but if you do have skin on the drier side then there are some brilliant SPF suggestions coming up. (CeraVe SPF25 is notable for its hydrating-yet-lightweight formula and it’s great for itchy, sensitive skin – find it at Boots.com here*.)
You can find Anthelios XL at Escentual.com here* – it should be £16.50 but is currently £11. There’s also a new pocket version:
which tickles me no end, because you can hardly get more pocket-sized and handy than the original. The no-frills, flat bottle is just perfect for holiday or makeup-bag packaging and there’s no ridiculous packaging excess either on the bottle or lid.
Anyway, Ode to Anthelios over: you can read previous sunscreen reviews by clicking here but I’ll be back with more shortly. Let’s just hope the sun stays out, I’m not finished with this heatwave yet!
Find Anthelios Pocket Sun Cream here*.