Sunscreen formulas have been getting progressively lighter and more comfortable to wear. It’s true that some of the higher factor versions do still leave a bit of a white cast on the skin, but most are sheer and fast to disappear after application. The four sunscreens in the photograph above all impressed me in terms of finish (not shiny, not chalky, just right) and texture (light, fluid, non-oily and quick to dry) and they all come in compact bottles that are small enough to get through airport security checks. They are great for all skin types, but you’ll find them especially useful if sunscreens usually give you spots – some SPFs do break me out, but these behave perfectly! If your skin is on the dry side then you will most definitely want to moisturise before going in with one of these fluid sunscreens; if it’s oilier then you can get away with a nice hydrating serum (something like Hydraluron from Boots.com, or I really like MD Formulations Antioxidant Hydrating Gel, here, which gives a moisture boost but leaves absolutely no residue. It’s like applying water!) and then SPF on top. Just see how you go. All of the products below are broad spectrum (protect against UVA and UVB rays) and – as with all other sun protection – need to be applied generously. You don’t want to be “blending in” your SPF – whack on a load and make sure you remember the end of your nose and the tips of your ears! (Places I always forget.)
1) The Immortelle Brightening Shield SPF 40 from l’Occitane. This is the priciest sunscreen at £34 for 30ml. It’s also the heaviest in feel, I think, but at the same time it’s got a fair old whack of titanium dioxide in it and does provide exemplary protection! I used it in Dubai last year and it fared very, very well indeed. It has a completely matte finish and sits well under makeup, there also seems to be a brightening “sheen” to the skin once this is applied, even though it feels completely dry. I suppose that could also be down to a slight whiteness from the mineral sunscreen.. You can find it online with free delivery at Look Fantastic.
l’Occitane actually have a far newer and lighter sunscreen at the moment; I don’t know whether they have a similar formula in any other range, but the Jenipapo Face Protection Veil is just lovely. As light as any below, with the same quick-to-dry formula and invisible, matte finish. The packaging is so summery and cheerful, too – I hope that l’Occitane keep something similar as a permanent product. I think it would do really well as an at-counter must-have, it looks like the perfect holiday buy. You can find it online here – it’s £26 for 25ml (NOT the 15ml that they say on the webpage.)
2) Clinique’s Even Better Dark Spot Defense SPF 45, £26 for 30ml. A newly-released sunscreen that is already one of my all-time favourites and I’ve only been using it for a month. It’s so, so light and seems to simply disappear a few seconds after application. It has a very slight tint, but I honestly can’t tell whether the tint does anything or not, it’s so sheer. I have been wearing the Dark Spot Defense with a touch of Eve Lom’s Mineral Foundation over the top, just for a teeny bit of coverage, and that has pretty much been my off-duty daytime look for the past few sunny days. (It helps, of course, that my skin has been pre-tanned with either the Elemis Gradual Tanner or the Clarins Golden Glow booster.) You can find Clinique’s new SPF online here and at counters nationwide. (This needs a good old shake before you use it.)
3) Dream Screen by Benefit, another new and very excellent launch. For some odd reason I have photographed the back of the bottle, but you get the gist; same cutesy “cork”-topped packaging as the rest of the skincare line and a fragrance-free, to-the-point formula. This broad spectrum sunscreen looks like milk when it comes out of the bottle; it then feels more viscous and almost oily as you massage it in and finally, after a few seconds, the finish is absolutely bone dry. This works well as a mattifying primer – as do all of them on this page, really. Benefit’s SPF costs £25 but this is for 45ml, 50% more than you get in the bottles above, which is worth noting. You can find it online with free delivery here.
4) I can’t bang on about Anthelios enough. I’ve loved this La Roche-Posay range for years – it’s the ultimate in lightweight, suit-all suncare. They have recently had a little re-jig with their packaging and formulations and I am extremely impressed with the Ultra-Light version. It has an invisible finish but manages to give brilliant protection. It’s not as fluid as the Clinique or the Benefit sunscreens, but it does have a slightly more hydrating feel, I think. It’s also bargain-basement cheap in comparison; £16.50 for 50ml. You can find it with free delivery at the reduced price of £14 if you look on Escentual.com here.
Any more ultra-light sunscreen suggestions? Let me know below and I’ll give them a whirl!