When it comes to looking after our skin, sun protection is non-negotiable but as we well know, not all SPF is created equal – especially when it comes to your face – and finding one that offers both UVA and UVB protection, hydrates and doesn’t cause breakouts or leave a chalky residue on the skin is no mean feat.
Whilst the glorious mini heatwave might have been and gone already (in a bit, pub garden!), the need for SPF endures, no matter the weather, season or temp as UV rays can still pass through cloud cover and windows. Even more reason to slather on the SPF when you’re working from home or heading into the office.
Come rain or shine, the risk of sun damage is a year-round concern, meaning SPF really is a wear-every-day kinda skincare staple and your best defence against sun damage and premature ageing.
We’ve tried and tested our fair share of pore-cloggers and eye-stingers in our time, so if you’re looking for nothing less than 5* formulas that slot seamlessly into your skincare routine, allow Team Zoella to help you narrow down the search and serve you in your quest to finding the one that ticks all the boxes.
From sunscreen for acne-prone skin to lightweight barely-there formulas and ocean-safe ingredients, here’s a look at the SPFs we’d snog, marry and avoid.
Psst don’t do a Gwyneth and apply it to the high points of your face. You need at least two fingers worth all over your chops. Nothing less.
Snog: VICHY Capital Soleil Solar Protective Water Hydrating SPF50 200ml
Remember the days of stripy white patches all over your body from a poor uneven application of your basic sun lotion? That was me until i found this product. You can literally spritz your whole body in a matter of minutes leaving behind nothing more than a lovely sheen. This product ticks so many boxes, it’s so easy to apply because of its water like texture which makes it totally mess free and on top of that it leaves your skin hydrated and highly protected, what more could you want?
Marry: Body shop Factor 50 face
This is such a fail safe product that everyone needs in their life. If you’re looking for a light weight, barely there feel with maximum protection that won’t break the bank, this is the product for you. I’ve purchased this time and time again and it’s never let me down. All the things that put me off about suncream, especially for your face, this product does the opposite. It’s not cakey, it doesn’t leave a white residue, it doesn’t clog your pores and it’s not heavy or greasy in any way. The new formula also boasts anti pollution protection and offers 24 hour moisture. Marry me now.
Avoid: Garnier ambre solaire dry mist
My beef isn’t specifically with just this product, i’m sure the product itself works fine, my issue is with the metal can/ mist spray concept. Whenever i’ve used them in the past the spray goes everywhere and comes out so fast which is great for the first few applications but it means you get so much wastage and within a few uses you’re out. I also have doubts over how much protection it provides with such a fine mist layer of product, it certainly doesn’t cut it for my sensitive skin.
Snog: Caudalie Anti Wrinkle Suncare SPF 50
Doubling up as both a soothing moisturiser and an SPF, it’s creamier and heavier than cult favourite La Roche Posay but for those who value hydration and radiance as much as protection, Caudalie ticks all the boxes. Formulated with organic grape water, it’s got a gentle floral fragrance and gives a glowy finish which I appreciate on the days when my skin looks a bit lifeless! It’s also free from harmful chemicals making it environmentally friendly for the marine ecosystems, so you can enjoy a guilt-free ocean dip. At £20 a pop, it’s not the cheapest option but when you consider the quality ingredients, anti-ageing properties and all-round protection (for both your skin and the planet), it’s worth the investment.
Marry: Anthelios La Roche Posay UVMune 400 Invisible Fluid SPF50+
With tear ducts as weak as mine, finding an SPF that doesn’t make me weep is a real challenge but La Roche Posay seems to do the trick. The formula is quite thin and watery meaning it feels delightfully lightweight on the skin and absorbs in seconds. It’s also fragrance-free – a big selling point for ol’ cry baby over here. If you’ve got sensitive skin or feel disenchanted with other SPFs on the market because of stickiness or white cast, this one makes for an easy, fuss-free option to slot into your skincare routine every day. It’s available in other factors but for the face, the higher the better I say. It’s usually on offer too so I stock up when it’s in the sale. Since using it, I’ve never gone elsewhere. It’s my go-to through the seasons!
Avoid: Vichy Ideal Soleil Mattifying Face Dry Touch Sun Cream
I’m here for barely-there texture but this was slightly too mattifying for my liking. I’m a dewy finish kinda girl so this missed the mark for me. No matter how long I waited for it to absorb it still left white cast so it’s not ideal for wearing under makeup. I also found it gathered in my brows and hairline a bit. Not a look. That said, if you’ve got oily skin it might be the shine-free SPF you’ve been looking for, it just wasn’t well-suited to my combo/dry skin type.
Snog: Solait Face Sun Cream Fluid SPF30 50ml
You absolutely do not need to spend a small fortune on SPF, actually if you check a lot of the expensive branded SPF’s their UVA rating (which is what helps fight skin ageing in the sun) is usually about 3 stars (with 5 stars being the best). I love this Superdrug Face Fluid Sun Cream, it’s best used on holidays when you will be using a lot more because it’s only £3.99! It’s only downside is it only goes up to SPF30, which I’m sure some people would argue isn’t high enough, but its UVA rating is 5 Stars.
Marry: Ambre Solaire Super UV Anti Dark Spots & Anti Pollution Face Fluid SPF50+
I loooove this SPF! Now I contradict myself a bit here, but hear me out. So this SPF is factor 50+, however its UVA rating is 3 stars, but I only really use this in the UK on a day-to-day basis (we have pretty low UV levels here). I love this SPF though because 1) it’s £8!, 2) it’s super lightweight and a La Roche-Posay dupe and 3) it doesn’t break me out at all. I find a lot of SPF breaks me out and then I get dark spots, which is equally frustrating, but this SPF is also anti dark spots and I genuinely have seen a difference in my skin since using it!
Avoid: La Roche-Posay Anthelios UVMune 400 Invisible Fluid SPF50+
Now I know this one is going to be VERY controversial… But this product just didn’t work for me. I love the texture of this SPF, which is why I said the Ambre Solaire SPF was a good dupe, because it’s super lightweight and has a high SPF. I believe it’s UVA is between 3 and 4, but for some reason they don’t state it on their packaging, but I think the ‘UVMUNE 400’ part of the name is the UV rating, but I’m not an expert so definitely could be wrong!! I just found this SPF really broke me out, my skin just didn’t like it at all and It’s also prettyyyy expensive if you ask me at £18 a bottle. I know so many people love it and I totally get why, but just wasn’t the SPF for me!
Snog: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Invisible Fluid SPF30
I recently picked this up in Boots as it is was on offer and worked out about £8 cheaper than my favourite ‘marry’ product, and have been pleasantly surprised by how much I rate it! Don’t get me wrong, La Roche Posay is very well loved in the world of facial SPFs, but having been loyal to one product for so long I was reluctant to switch things up. I love how thin the formula of this SPF is and how easily it glides on to the skin- it feels quite watery in texture but almost instantly sinks in and dries down. One of the main ‘musts’ for me in an SPF is how it wears under make-up, and I have to say this one gets a big thumbs up from me! I would say it gathers a tiny bit on dry patches around my nose, but aside from that my foundation looks as good as normal and doesn’t appear oily or shiny throughout the day which I’ve found to be the case with some heavier sun screens.
Marry: The Body Shop Skin Defence Multi-Protection Lotion SPF 50+
Ahh, my holy grail! I can’t remember who recommended The Body Shop skincare and SPF range but I haven’t looked back since! This SPF formula is definitely more reminiscent of a moisturiser than La Roche Posay’s thinner formula, feeling thicker in texture, but absorbs similarly quickly and doesn’t leave my skin feeling oily or weighed down. I always powder my skin after foundation anyway, but as this formula is quite hydrating it is one that I feel does benefit from setting in place, which could be worth bearing in mind for those who don’t normally powder their face- especially in the heat of the summer! I find the slight tackiness when first applied makes a great base for make-up, and most importantly it doesn’t break me out, which can be common with SPF! My skin always feels fully protected when using this sunscreen and I never have to worry about burning with it on- I rave about it all the time!
Avoid: Skin Defence Multi-Protection Face Mist SPF30 PA++
Now this mist may be branded as the same Body Shop SPF as above in spray form, but in my opinion there are some big differences that mean it’s currently gathering dust at the back of my skincare collection. I bought this mist as a means of keeping my SPF topped up when wearing make-up, and had really high hopes for how it would allow me to carry on rocking my Nars Sheer Glow in the summer months whilst safely protecting my skin. Unfortunately it’s near impossible to use, as the stinging that happens around your eyes (even when shut) and lips when you mist it over your face is simply too much for me to ever reach for it. The scent of the spray is also super strong and chemical-y in my opinion, and gets right up in your nostrils from the first spritz. I find it sits as an oily layer on top of my make-up and doesn’t sink in properly, but more than anything the issue remains that my eyes will be burning on and off for the rest of the day. In its defence I do think it does a good job of keeping my skin protected in the sun, and if you can get past the sensations mentioned above it may be one for you, but personally I don’t find the experience of applying it a pleasant one and won’t be repurchasing.
Snog: Ren Clean Skin Clean Screen Mineral SPF30
I’m one of those people who do not use SPF as much as I know I should, rarely putting it on under make-up and only using it when it’s actively hot and sunny outside so take my reviews with a pinch of salt! For my ‘snog’ I’m hooking up with this Ren SPF 30, Ren skincare is absolutely lovely and their sunscreen follows suit. As this one is mattifying, it’s perfect for throwing on after moisturiser when I’m out in the garden or during the day on holiday as it combats my oily areas when I’m not applying powder. I wouldn’t marry this one only because I don’t like wearing it under foundation and let’s face it, I’m wearing foundation most of the time!
Marry: Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF 30
Supergoop, will you do me the honour of spending the rest of your life with me? I’ll sing this brand’s praises until the cows come home to be quite frank. Gloriously smooth, no stingy eyes, and the dewiest glowy base before putting make-up on. If you do one thing this summer invest in this bad boy.
Avoid: The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters SPF 15 With Antioxidants
Look you get what you pay for when it comes to most things and I’m afraid this sunscreen fits into that category. I love The Ordinary and the hyaluronic acid is a constant staple in my skincare wardrobe, but I’ve never been a big fan of their moisturisers. I bought this on a whim but it just didn’t do what it needs to do, it’s only 15 SPF which I’ve realised in my old age just isn’t enough for your face if you actually want to protect it. So now I like my SPF like I like my men – between 30 and 50 HA.