The new crop of transparent facial sunscreens leave no trace

<span>Photograph: Kellie French/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Kellie French/The Guardian

It occurred to me recently, as another huge assortment of new SPF products landed on my desk, that for the first time in my career the daily wearing of facial sunscreen is mainstream.

Whether it’s due to the meteoritic rise of anti-ageing ingredients such as retinol and AHAs (which demand diligent sun protection) or our increased vanity and education around skin ageing, the penny has dropped and we are seeing far better, more sophisticated and consumer-friendly sunscreens as a result.

The high-protection watery gel has a juicy finish, leaves no trace and behaves well under makeup

This is most evident and welcome in the development of transparent sunscreens which, unlike the old guard, leave no white or ashy cast on olive, brown and black skin. Clear SPFs are usually thinner and lighter, and so are typically more pleasant to use on oily, gym-going or frequently perspiring skin (during menopausal hot flushes, for example).

Glossier’s Invisible Shield SPF50 markets itself as sunscreen “for people who hate sunscreen” and is considered by many the best in class. Now it has been supersized for more lavish application. The new 50ml tube (£32) gives almost twice as much vegan-friendly, ungreasy, easily absorbed skin shield, for just seven extra quid.

Naked Sundays is an Aussie brand, which is significant as Australia has some of the world’s most stringent regulations on sunscreen efficacy and, consequently, produces some of the very best. Both Naked Sundays’ Clear Glow Radiant (£35), an elegant, mattifying serum, and its new Cabana Clear (£25), a high-protection watery gel with a juicy finish, leave no trace on the skin, feel almost undetectable and behave well underneath makeup.

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Garnier continues its gold run (seriously – this brand has barely put a foot wrong since its rebirth five years ago) with its Vitamin C Daily UV Fluid SPF50+ Invisible (£12.99). This emerges white from the tube, but almost immediately turns clear on even the deepest skin tones. The addition of peptides, hyaluronic acid and vitamin C is most welcome, as is the unshiny but nicely hydrated looking finish. Again, foundation will sit very happily on top of this product.

For the makeup-free among you, Unseen Sunscreen SPF30 by Supergoop! (from £17.50) has, at least to my eye, a flattering and slightly blurring quality on the pores, as well as a semi-matt finish.

It’s important to remember that whether thin and transparent or rich and creamy, all sunscreens require liberal application. Two finger lengths’ full for face and neck.