These days, we are more aware than ever about the importance of wearing sun protection, particularly on our faces. The damaging rays of the sun can really take their toll on our skin, as well as our overall health.
“SPF is a shield against one of the most detrimental threats to our skin health: UV light,” explains Megan Felton, co-founder of skincare consultancy Lion/ne. “Not only does SPF protect us from serious skin diseases and cancer, but it also helps to prevent premature ageing.”
Wearing formulas that provides protection from both UVA (the rays which can penetrate deeply into skin) and UVB rays (which cause sunburn and damage the skin surface) is crucial in a number ways. Superficially, if you want to avoid pigmentation and scarring issues, or slow down the ageing process, sun care is a must. It’ll also prevent skin issues such as rosacea, acne, and eczema from flaring up or becoming worse. Then there’s the more serious side effects that can take hold if you don’t wear SPF. There is a known link between UV exposure/sun damage and skin cancer, and the less you protect your skin, the more at risk you may be.
We’ve selected the ten very best SPF formulas for the face, taking special care to only recommend those with lightweight formulas that don’t leave residue, and which have high levels of protection. And if you think you only need to invest in these for your summer holiday, think again; around 80 per cent of UV rays can penetrate through clouds, so you’ll need one of these year round!
Beauty Pie Super Healthy Skin Ultralight UVA/UVB SPF25
When it comes to skincare, Beauty Pie really can do no wrong, so it comes as no surprise that their SPF is of impeccable quality. While it’s a targeted SPF, the formula feels much more like a smoothing, velvety moisturiser or luxurious makeup primer, meaning you no longer have to apply three products in a row if you reach for this. It’s also loaded with ‘it’ hydrating ingredient hyaluronic acid.
SkinCeuticals Sheer Mineral UV Defense SPF 50
A mineral sunscreen that is best used after a good shake, this lotion is so lightweight it’s practically undetectable when applied. The pleasant texture and skin-friendly ingredients mean this is ideal for any skin type, even the highly sensitive. It’s water-resistant, has excellent high protection, and is matte in finish, making it a great all-rounder.
Jurlique UV Defence High Protection Lotion SPF 50
If you don't like the standard scent of sunscreen, this oil-free formula from Jurlique is exactly what you need. Famed for their botanical-based skincare, much of which is rose imbued, the cult Aussie brand's high protection SPF smells incredible and also doubles as an effective primer. There is no white cast and the slight shine dissolves nicely within a few minutes. Reapply every two to three hours if you are planning on a long day of direct sunshine or simply add to your morning makeup routine as a crucial first step. It is pricey for the amount you get (50ml), but it does stretch well and should see you through at least half of the summer with continued use.
Aesop Protective Facial Lotion SPF25
When Aesop first introduced this product into their range several years ago, they couldn’t keep it from flying off the shelves. The chic-looking tube houses a light, velvety lotion that sinks in with ease and won’t feel heavy over moisturiser. And with a matte finish, this works wonderfully prior to makeup application, especially if you have an oilier complexion.
REN Clean Screen Mineral Sun Cream SPF 30
Mineral sunscreens (as opposed to chemical sunscreens) are so often associated with thick formulas and white residues that they were shunned for years. However, with our growing concern for the oceans, brands are starting to bring back reef-safe mineral SPFs but in a new, modern way. This one is a great example; it protects effectively, is safe to wear in the oceans without harming our eco-system, and it absolutely doesn’t leave any product behind.
Glossier Invisible Shield Daily sunscreen SPF 30
A fuss-free formula developed for Glossier’s legions of fuss-free fans who just want simple, easy-to-wear protection. The product has a water-gel formula that’s transparent, meaning it won’t leave any visible, unwanted residue. With an SPF 30, this is a great non-detectable option to apply before makeup application every morning.
Shiseido WetForce Expert Sun Aging Protection Lotion Plus SPF50+
Whether it’s emerging from a hot, cramped tube after your commute, or a summer holiday spent at the beach, this waterproof formula will stay on and keep you protected no matter the scenario. It has a light, silky texture, and its petite packaging means it can be thrown into any sized bag for top ups. And if you forget your body SPF? Use this one on there, too.
Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily UV Defense Aqua Gel SPF 50 PA++++
Kiehl’s has always excelled in the suncare category, and their newest gel formula is their lightest, most comfortable yet. Ideal for normal to oily skin types, this effortlessly glides onto skin and absorbs quickly, without feeling greasy or leaving a white cast in its wake. As well as UVA and UVB rays, it also protects against pollution, and has a non-shine finish ideal for everyday wear.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Shaka Ultra-Light Facial Sun Cream SPF50
As with most of La Roche-Posay’s skincare products, this has been designed for sensitive skin, so if you fear bothering your already on edge complexion, it’s the bottle to reach for. It boasts an ultra-lightweight milky texture, which is thickened slightly after shaking. And as well as offering very high protection, the cream is also waterproof, sand-proof, and sweat-proof, meaning it’s just as suitable for city life as it is for the beach.
While all brilliant, there are two standout SPF for face formulas. First is the Beauty Pie Super Healthy Skin Ultralight UVA/UVB SPF50; at under £10 for members, this SPF offeres excellent value and yet still boasts a luxurious texture, removing the need for a separate moisturiser or primer as a handy three-in-one. Alternatively, La Roche Posay’s Anthelios Shaka Ultra-Light Facial Sun Cream SPF50 is affordable, super lightweight and comfortable to wear, and suitable for every skin type around, even the very sensitive, making it a winner in its own right.