Best Sunscreen for Face (with or without make-up!)


It still amazes me how many people don’t use SPF on their face, even when it’s scorchio. I think part of the reason is the assumption that it will feel greasy, leave a white cast on the skin or make foundation slide off even faster in the heat. Or they just can’t be bothered. I’m not gonna preach; it’s taken me a while to get into the habit but I’m religious about it now - and never leave the house without SPF on my face, neck and décolleté, whatever the weather. After testing lots of different formulas, only 3 made the cut...

My priorities:

  • high protection
  • light, quickly absorbed formula
  • no greasy feel
  • no white cast
  • won’t interfere with make-up application
  • won’t cause me to breakout

All of these formulas tick the above boxes. Skinceuticals Ultra Facial Defense SPF50 (£22.95) is a light fluid and the most dense of this trio. The other two sink in without a trace, while this feels quite rich and requires a little bit of rubbing in… don’t be put off by this as the process only takes a moment and it performs really well. I’d recommend for normal to dry skins.

Sunsense is a fantastic Australian brand which I’m so pleased is now available in the UK. It offers a wide range of formulas for the face - including anti-ageing, tinted and mattifying formulas. I’ve used them all and they’re excellent, but Sunsense Anti-ageing Face SPF 50 (£19.20, on offer) is my favourite and contains a whopping 100ml of product. I completely trust this brand in terms of protection; the formula is oil-free, paraben & fragrance-free, tested to very high standards and great for sensitive skin. It sinks in and dries very quickly, leaving quite a matte base for make-up.

While I use all 3 of these regularly (one lives with my make-up, one in handbag & one at the door for last min emergencies), my No1 is Clinique Even Better Dark Spot Defense SPF 45 (£26). I’ve raved about this before and still think it’s the best facial sunscreen I’ve tried as it’s such a pleasure to use. It sinks in nanoseconds faster than the Sunsense, has a barely tinted formula that slightly evens skin tone and leaves a slight radiance - bonus if you don’t wear make-up. Speaking of which, applying foundation over this feels like applying it over a primer… it goes on more smoothly and I seem to need less product.

Obviously the most important thing about all of these is that they work, but finding a formula that is quick, easy and pleasant to use is what has kept me applying mine daily. No more excuses around here!

ps sunscreen should be the last step in your skincare routine, after serum/moisturiser, before foundation.

  • More on SPF in my previous posts: La Roche Posay Anthelios + Ultrasun Face (only one that doesn’t need topped up throughout the day), lots more!
  • Caroline Hirons has done two excellent YouTube videos with the very charming Dr Marko Lens from Zelens. In Part 1 they discuss the full lowdown on SPF and in Part 2, answer readers’ questions. I learnt so much from watching these.
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