This Is The Best High Street SPF I’ve Tried & It’s Only £14

One of the most interesting parts of my job is pinning down some of the best dermatologists in the business and picking their brains for game-changing skincare advice. Often they tell me things I already know, like you don't really need to use a dedicated hyaluronic acid serum, or that we're not washing our faces for long enough (one minute is ample, apparently). Other times, they drop some very useful bombshells.
Dr Hiba Injibar, consultant dermatologist at Dermasurge Clinic, recently told me that, regardless of skin tone, it's a good idea to wear a sunscreen of SPF50 every day and in all seasons. That means winter, too, as UV rays can reach you even on cloudy days if you're spending time outside. But while other dermatologists have recommended sunscreens that are mainly available in top London clinics (and often come with a hefty price tag), Dr Injibar revealed that your chosen sunscreen doesn't have to be expensive to work well.
When it comes to skincare, there's a common misconception that price equals efficacy. Some of your favourite luxury skincare brands put their products through various rigorous (and expensive) tests or seek out powerful ingredients, for example, which can hike up the price. But if I've learned anything in this industry, it's that a lot of the time we end up paying for marketing fluff and Instagram-worthy packaging.
Of course, there are some high end sunscreens that I really like, for example Clé de Peau UV Protective Cream SPF50+, £91, Ultra Violette Clean Screen SPF30, £34, and Medik8 Advanced Day Ultimate Protect SPF50, £59. But that's a lot of money to drop on a single product that you're going to see the end of very quickly if you're applying it diligently.
There are a few affordable sunscreens out there but I've always found the high street's offering to be scant. So when the new Garnier SPF50+ Super UV Invisible Face Serum landed on my desk, I was intrigued. At £14, it's the cheapest sunscreen currently in my skincare arsenal but trust me when I say it's probably the best.
If you have oily, acne-prone skin like me, you've no doubt had a hard time finding a sunscreen that doesn't break you out like crazy or cause your makeup to slip off. Others can leave a suspect white cast and collect in creases. This one is different.
I'll start with the texture. The brand refers to it as a serum, which suggests it might be watery. Sure, it's incredibly lightweight but it's more of a milky lotion, which means you can apply it over any serums you like to use in the morning, such as vitamin C. You might be thinking: But where does moisturiser come into the equation? Well, it is your moisturiser and that's all thanks to the additional ingredients.
First up, ceramides, which are found inside your skin naturally. Think of ceramides as the glue that holds your skin together, keeping it soft, plump and healthy. Without them, skin tends to become dry, inflamed, itchy and irritated. Whether you're a skincare fiend or a newbie, it's likely you've heard experts extolling the virtues of keeping your skin barrier (the outermost layer of your skin) intact. Ceramides are great for doing just that. Then there's glycerin. This is one of the most moisturising ingredients you can use on your skin. Dermatologist Dr Shereene Idriss actually prefers glycerin to hyaluronic acid and thinks that it's more effective for dry, dehydrated skin.
My morning routine looks like this: cleansing with a gentle, creamy face wash (ALPHA-H Balancing Cleanser with Aloe Vera, £32), followed by a serum (The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%, £12.50) and then the sunscreen. That's it. On days when I'm feeling lazy, sometimes I skip the serum part and just use the sunscreen.
Unlike other SPFs, this absorbs in moments and doesn't leave a shiny film atop my skin so it's the perfect canvas for makeup, whether you rock a full face of foundation like me or just a dab of concealer. Even though it's featherweight, it doesn't make my face feel thirsty or like it might crack during the day (a common gripe I have with many light moisturisers — they're simply not substantial enough, especially for winter). Even better, it protects skin against UVA rays (which accelerate things like fine lines and pigmentation) and UVB rays (responsible for sunburn).
Those with sensitive or reactive skin will also appreciate that unlike other sunscreens, it doesn't smell of coconut or flowers or Duty Free. It has no fragrance whatsoever. The brand also promises that it's invisible on all skin tones (surely a given for all new sunscreens in 2023).
At £14 (£9.50 in Boots if you have an Advantage Card), this sunscreen makes such an effective, enjoyable and affordable addition to any skincare routine. In fact, I've been badgering Garnier for a launch date since November, I've wanted to tell everyone about it that much. My advice? Get it while it's still flying under the radar of skincare-obsessed TikTokers, because it's bound to be a sell-out.
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