Best sunscreen: 5 beauty director-approved SPF lotions for head to toe protection

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Forget the gloopy, greasy, grey sunscreens of yesteryear; it has never been easier to find a hard-working formula that you won’t bemoan applying. Just take it from Stylist’s beauty director, Shannon Peter…

The sun is finally out — hurrah! But at the risk of being a buzzkill, I’m here to remind you that, as always, sun cream is a total non-negotiable.

Whether you’re out and about for some socially-distanced socialising or you’ve moved your home office into your garden or onto your balcony,  it’s important to protect your body (as well as your face) from the sun’s harmful rays. Well, that, and avoiding the sun when it’s at its strongest, and seeking shade as much of possible, of course.

But I get it: all sun cream feels gloopy, sticky, greasy and gross, right? Wrong. Over the years, I’ve made it my mission to hunt out non-greasy, non-sticky, hydrating formulas that protect the skin but are also — believe it or not — a joy to apply. Plus, not one of them will leave your limbs looking ashy, even if you have dark skin. So, I’m sorry, but there goes all your excuses.

These are the five best sunscreen formulas I pack for everything from holidays to trips to my tiny inner-London balcony. 

  • Best non-greasy sunscreen


    Hate heavy creams? I feel you. Vichy’s sunscreen comes in mist form, meaning you simply need to spritz limbs and pat it in to apply. There’s also hyaluronic acid in there, too, which hydrates as it protects. This has to be one of the most refreshing formulas out there, especially if you pop it in the fridge ten minutes before applying.

    Vichy Ideal Soleil Hydrating Sun Protection Water SPF 50, £19

  • Best marine-safe sunscreen


    Scientists estimate that up to 14,000 tons of suncream washes off our bodies and into the oceans every year. That’s why we’ve seen a recent turn towards mineral formulas that omit certain chemicals believed to bleach and damage coral. Green People’s sun care formula is 100% reef-safe, and although it is slightly heavier than other creams, it melds into skin without the need for furious rubbing. One for your next post-lockdown holiday…

    Green People Scent Free Sun Lotion SPF 30, £28.80

  • Best sunscreen stick


    Clarins’ twist-up SPF stick is so satisfyingly practical. Use it to top up areas from shoulders to foreheads, and it’s perfect for slipping in your bum bag ahead of a run to the park. Plus, the solid soap-textured formula is translucent, so won’t leave an ashy cast no matter what skin tone its applied to.

    Clarins Invisible Sun Care Stick SPF 50, £19

  • Best waterproof sunscreen


    Usually, water rinses sun cream away, but Shiseido’s rather clever WetForce technology contains negative ionic bonds which bond with the positive ions in water to build an even stronger UV barrier. Basically, the more you sweat, the better it works. Of course, you still need to reapply every few hours, but the protection in this formula lasts much longer than most.

    Shiseido WetForce Expert Sun Aging Protection Lotion Plus SPF 50, £35

  • Best hydrating sunscreen


    Not up for adding yet another step to an already laborious routine? I feel you. Simply choose an SPF that does the work of your body lotion too. Sunscreen oils are ideal for this, especially La Roche-Posay’s formula which — before you ask — isn’t even a tiny bit greasy, as it sinks in so fast. As well as protecting skin, it lends a rather delightful sheen to the fronts of shins.

    La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF50+ Invisible Nutritive Oil, £15

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Images: Peopleimages/ Getty / courtesy of brands.

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