We round up the best SPF to wear inside and under make-up. They’re non-greasy, non-ashy and won’t break you out.
Let me start by apologising to anybody who’s ever clicked on my author tag, to anybody who’s ever spoken to me in real life, and to anybody who’s ever asked me for skincare advice. I’m sorry for only ever talking and writing about SPF.
I know it’s all I ever harp on about, but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my seven years as a beauty journalist it’s that it’s imperative for every person in the world to wear at least factor 30 every single day.
In fact, it’s essentially become my life’s mission to make sure that happens. I want it to be my legacy; the thing that I’m known for when I’m no longer here. Can you tell I’m passionate about it? But when 90% of skin ageing is caused by UVA and UVB rays, it’s for good reason.
It’s worth adding that the SPF in your moisturiser or foundation isn’t enough – you need a separate product, and I’ve also recently learnt it’s been proven that wearing sunscreen can actually help improve existing wrinkles, pigmentation and texture.
That said, I’m so aware that SPF is one of those divisive topics. Some think they’re better than it (you’re not), others think they don’t need to wear it in the UK (you absolutely do, all year round) some believe it’s too thick, white, greasy or oily and it breaks them out in spots (not if you choose the right formula).
It’s also imperative that you still wear it when you’re not outside. Believe it or not, UVA rays can penetrate both clouds and windows, so even while we’re all following government guidelines and staying in as much as possible, it’s essential that you still protect your skin as much as possible.
Don’t despair though because SPF has come a long way in the last few years. Formulas are so much better and more invisible than ever before, which means they’re much nicer to use and they sit well under make-up.
Trust me, though, I get it: finding the perfect product that works for you and your skin type can be difficult. So, in a bid to make things slightly easier, I’ve rounded up the best sunscreens that I’ve used (and finished) in the last few months. Just in case you’re interested, I apply sunscreen every morning as the last step in my skincare routine, after cleansing and vitamin C and before either primer or foundation.
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None of the products that I’ve mentioned below have caused me to breakout or left my skin oily, instead they’re virtually undetectable once rubbed in and actually are a real pleasure to use. Because yes, I would go as far as saying that I enjoy putting SPF on. Sorry.
So please: make me happy, do the right thing. Pick one, treat yourself, protect your skin and let me know how you get on.
The best face SPFs to wear under make-up
Garnier Ambre Solaire Ultra-Light Sensitive Face Fluid SPF50+
As soon as I tried this, it shot straight to the top of my favourites list. It’s super lightweight, almost water-like in texture and it leaves a soft matte finish. It’s also formulated with hyaluronic acid for an added hydration boost.
Cerave Facial Moisturising Lotion SPF25
I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again, the one downside of this is that it’s only factor 25. Experts and dermatologists say you need a minimum of SPF30, but I had to include it anyway because I do really love it. CeraVe is one of my favourite affordable brands and I find this product in particular – as its name suggests – really hydrating but not at all greasy. It’s formulated with niacinamide which means it’s soothing, too.
Glossier Daily Sunscreen Invisible Shield
I’ll be honest and say that, for some reason, I didn’t really trust Glossier as a brand when it came to SPF. I’m not entirely sure why but I now realise the error of my ways and I wish I’d tried Invisible Shield a lot sooner. It’s slightly fragranced which I’m not necessarily a fan of, but the fact it truly is invisible on skin, doesn’t leave any sort of greasy residue or film, and the addition of antioxidants means this has shot straight into my top three of all time (which, as I’m sure is already obvious, is a list that I take very seriously).
Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily Defense Aqua Gel SPF50
I’d never tried an SPF from Kiehl’s before I got my hands on this, but I actually fell in love with it pretty quickly. The gel-like, lightweight formula basically disappeared seconds after application, it didn’t leave my skin feeling sticky and it’s non-comedogenic and fragrance-free – both of which mean it gets an even bigger tick from me.
Medik8 Advanced Total Day Protect SPF30
This was the product that got me into wearing SPF every day. Medik8 is one of my favourite skincare brands that I trust implicitly, and I love that this feels more like a hydrating moisturiser than anything else. It’s free of alcohol and fragrance, it has antioxidant protection and it has additional blue light defence, too.
Rituals The Ritual of Namaste SPF50
I didn’t even realise Rituals did SPF until I was introduced to this. I found this sunscreen super lightweight (it’s also oil-free), but it left a nice glow on my skin - that I did actually really like - and my make-up applied extremely well on top. My only negative is that the bottle is quite small so it didn’t last very long, but it was a good size for taking away on holiday with me (remember when those were a thing?). Highs and lows, I guess.
Skinceuticals Ultra Facial UV Defense SPF50
I was prescribed this a couple of years ago when I went to see Harley Street dermatologist Dr Justine Kluk and loved it so much, I’ve gone through at least three tubes. I love that it’s SPF50, absorbs quickly and easily and actually leaves my skin really soft and smooth which acted as a great base for my foundation.
Images: courtesy of brands
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Lucy Partington is Stylist’s beauty editor. She’s obsessed with all things skincare, collecting eyeshadow palettes that she’ll probably never use, and is constantly on the hunt for the ultimate glowy foundation.