Welcome to Sun Blocked, Refinery29’s global call-to-action to wake up to the serious dangers of tanning. No lectures or shaming, we promise. Instead, our goal is to arm you with the facts you need to protect your skin to the best of your ability, because there’s no such thing as safe sun.
Dermatologists and skincare enthusiasts always recommend a daily dose of sunscreen but you'd be forgiven for ditching it from your morning beauty routine. It wouldn't be wrong to say that up until recently, SPF formulas have been less than ideal. Whether you opt for high-end or high street, it has been difficult to find products which aren't gloopy or greasy and don't make your eyes sting or leave behind an ashy, white cast on darker skin. Sure, sunscreen is there to protect you, but that doesn't mean you should have to compromise.
Why should you wear SPF during the day?
While the UK is slowly coming around to the idea of wearing SPF throughout the year to shield skin from cancer-causing UVA rays and to prevent common skin gripes like dark spots and fine lines, it's fair to say that Australian skincare obsessives know more than a thing or two about the must-have skincare product. After all, they get a considerable amount more sunshine than we do. So when Aussie sunscreen brand Ultra Violette landed at Space NK last year (followed by Cult Beauty and Sephora), the hype was justified. From the lightweight sunscreen serum to the hydrating facial cream, the products have racked up five-star reviews – and for good reason: they're like nothing skincare enthusiasts have tried before.
What is the best SPF for oily, combination and dry skin?
I'll start with the Ultra Violette Super Supreme Screen Hydrating Facial Skinscreen SPF50+, £48. A quick whip around friends, family and colleagues shows that plenty are unsure about SPF 50 (which is one of the highest factors and provides great protection) for fear of it appearing chalky or feeling heavy on the skin. That's what makes this sunscreen completely different. It's hydrating enough to act as a moisturiser and makeup primer yet light enough not to leave behind a white cast (and the reviews concur). It takes a two-pronged approach to tackling dark spots and hyperpigmentation with the addition of brightening vitamin C, so you don't have to layer any other serums underneath.
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If you prefer something fragrance-free or have sensitive skin, try the Clean Screen Sensitive Skinscreen SPF 30, £32, which has become my go-to (and I'm very fussy). This is a mineral sunscreen so it reflects UV rays away from the skin and the brand ensures it doesn't make skin white. Two or three pumps sinks in fast and the best thing about this is that it doesn't feel as though you're wearing anything at all. I apply it over moisturiser for an extra hydration boost but it's so quenching, you could use it alone. If you're prone to breakouts or excessively oily skin, you'll absolutely love this.
For those after a tinted sunscreen option, Ultra Violette Daydream Screen SPF50 Tinted Veil, £38, is the one. 16 shades offer a touch of colour, combining your favourite tinted moisturiser with high-factor sun protection. Like the rest, it doesn't feel like your typical sunscreen – more like an everyday moisturiser – making it easy and enjoyable to use. The collection also features a hydrating lip balm, £16, in four shades (because your lips also need protection from the sun), a mattifying mineral SPF, £34, for quelling shine and a hand and body sunscreen, £27, too.
Do you need to reapply SPF?
According to Holly Thaggard, skincare expert and founder and CEO of Supergoop!, it's important to reapply sunscreen every two hours to maximise the benefits, especially on sunny days spent outside. However, I acknowledge that Ultra Violette might not be the most affordable sunscreen brand out there. TikTokers are raving about the budget-friendly Garnier Ambre Solaire Super UV Face Fluid, £7.99, and Eucerin Sun Oil Control Face Protection Sun Cream for Oily & Blemish Prone Skin SPF 50+, £16, available at Amazon and Boots. Dermatologists also recommend Altruist Dermatologist Sunscreen SPF 50, £4.99, which is a total steal.
If you're wearing makeup or don't like the idea of applying sunscreen on the go with your hands, I'd recommend Garnier's Ambre Solaire Sensitive Face Sun Cream Mist SPF 50, £8.04. It's reasonably priced, available on the high street and makes topping up easy.
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