If you're in the know about skincare, you'll know that wearing an SPF every day is essential not only to protect your skin from dangerous rays and sunburn but also to prevent the signs of ageing. While getting wrinkles and pigmentation is something we embrace as part and parcel of growing older, the sun can really contribute to these. Dermatologists and skin experts in the beauty industry widely agree that around 80% to 90% of skin ageing is because of UVA rays. That's not just when you're sunbathing on holiday but even on cloudy days in winter when you're sitting near a window. It doesn't have to be hot and sunny for the sun's rays to reach your skin. This is why it's important to wear SPF every single day. And nope, having an SPF in your moisturiser or foundation just won't cut it sadly. A dedicated SPF—worn on top of moisturiser and before makeup—is your best bet at getting the most thorough protection. "When thinking about how much product to apply, most people are not using enough SPF," explains skincare expert Lauren Evans. "A good way of knowing how much SPF to use is by getting a teaspoon from the kitchen. One teaspoon is a good amount for each section of your body. One teaspoon for face and one for chest and neck," she says.
And yet, SPF can be a bit annoying to wear. Even as a beauty editor, I'll admit that. It can be difficult to find one that works well and that you actually want to use. I have very sensitive skin, so if I try out a new product and my skin doesn't like it, it will let me know about it by stinging. The same goes for my eyes. Some SPFs seem to make their way into my eyes, which makes my eyes water and sting even more. And so the vicious cycle begins. Thank goodness for big sunglasses in this case. I also live by the coast and spend a lot of my free time outside, so I'm conscious about protecting my skin at all costs, but I want something that feels lightweight enough, makes my skin look good and sits well under makeup. And it definitely can't leave a white cast on the skin either. I'm not asking for much, right?
So when Shiseido's Urban Environment Age Defense Oil-Free SPF 30 landed on my desk, I was apprehensive. Would this one sting my eyes or break me out in a rash? Well, it didn't. This SPF has a lotion-like consistency (I would compare it to La Roche-Posay's Anthelios SPF), which melts into skin easily without leaving a greasy finish. In fact, this dries down quickly to a velvety touch, making it ideal for my T-zone, which is often more prone to shine in warmer weather. It's also oil-free, which is ideal if you experience breakouts or have oily skin.
What also makes this SPF unique is that it uses algae technology to help convert damaging UV rays into light that is beneficial for the skin. It also contains hydrating hyaluronic acid and defends against particles from pollution with antioxidants. It's basically a triple threat against environmental damage. And even my high-maintenance skin agrees with it. It doesn't sting my skin, run into my eyes or disrupt my makeup. It's actually a joy to wear, which is what an SPF should be to encourage us to wear it every day.
More Editor-Approved SPFs
This is another of my favourites from Shiseido. This one has a similar consistency to the Urban Environment Age Defense Oil-Free SPF 30, but it's tinted and comes in five shades. My only criticism is that these could be more inclusive. I actually wore this when I ran a marathon, and it didn't budge.
La Roche-Posay is often recommended by dermatologists, and Anthelios is a cult SPF for a reason. It's lightweight and non-irritating and offers SPF50+ protection. I always make sure I have a bottle of this in my stash.
Okay, this one is on the pricier side, but if you're looking for an investment, then this is one of the best SPFs that I would recommend. It has a moisturising formula and actually makes my foundation go on even better than primers that I've tried. It's also brilliant if you live in a city, as it offers protection against pollution too.
If you have oily or combination skin, I'd highly recommend that you try this incredible SPF. I don't say that lightly. It's oil-free and has a gel-like consistency that melts into the skin without leaving a greasy residue. In fact, I've found that this really reduces shine throughout the day. The formula is antibacterial, antimicrobial and sebum controlling, making it perfect for sensitive and acne-prone skin types.
I really love SkinCeutical's products. This SPF is a dependable favourite and is great on all skin types. I'd say that the formula leans more on the moisturising side, but it won't leave a greasy finish. It offers broad-spectrum protection of SPF 50, so you know your skin will be nicely protected.
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I've already raved about Beauty Pie's products, and I'm not surprised that this SPF is one of its best sellers. It is feather-light on the skin and doesn't leave a greasy finish. It doesn't block pores, and the formula also contains a cocktail of antioxidants to protect your skin against environmental damage.
If your skin is parched, this luxuriously moisturising SPF is for you. It envelops skin in a creamy, cushiony formula that's great for dry and sensitive skin types. This formula is also ideal for city dwellers thanks to its anti-pollution technology.
I actually got my boyfriend using this as he was looking for an affordable option. His skin looked glowing, so he actually influenced me to buy it too. This sensitive skin–friendly formula glides on skin and leaves the most incredible, expensive-looking sheen, I swear. Watch the compliments roll in.
Former Who What Wear beauty editor Mica Ricketts raves about Ultra Violette's SPFs, and she's not alone. Beauty editors love all the products in the range, but this one is particularly good if you have oily skin and want a magnifying yet refreshing finish to the skin.