Do you have oily and spot-prone skin? These are the SPFs you need to know about

The creams, sprays and serums that’ll make you actually want to put your SPF on

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Madeleine Spencer2 April 2024

There are two chief temptations if you’ve got oily skin and and confronted with a sunny situation. The first is that pervading urge to ‘dry it out’ in said sun. The second: to skip SPF in the hope it’ll look/feel less greasy.

Resist both urges; they’re terrible news for your skin. I should know: I was the teen and then the woman with really oily, really spot-prone skin — and I fell into both those traps. The result? A smattering of sun damage and more spots (you can’t ‘dry out’ skin, it transpires, and I’ve got the scars to prove it).

If you’re into skin, you’ll know this already — but for anyone who doesn’t: SPF is non-negotiable, irrespective of any of the particulars about your skin, protecting not only your health but also your youth (with all the experts chiming in unison for once about how it is the only product that really reduces the ravages of ageing).

And, yes, that includes on cloudy days. As Andrea Pfeffer, founder of Pfeffer Sal, explains, "UVB rays which are responsible for burning and tanning are filtered out by clouds and windows, but UVA rays which are responsible for sun damage can still penetrate so if you’re working by a window or taking daily walks, you will still be exposed to them. This is called incidental sun exposure which we still need to protect our skin against."

That said, it’s completely understandable that you might find it a little intimidating to pick a formula if you live in fear you’ll exacerbate spots or the appearance of oil. That’s where I come in. But before we delve into the SPFs that won’t make your face feel like it’s slipping off during hot weather, a word on spots and suncream: you absolutely must cleanse properly at the end of the day to get rid of sweat, make-up, and your SPF. This means: a cleanser, a flannel steeped in warm water, and usually a second pass to make sure it’s all gone.

By Terry UV Base Invisible Sunscreen Primer SPF 50

By Terry

The key is in the name: the invisible thing. This gel-cream really is that lightweight, and I always find how very not present it is remarkable.

Buy now£48, Cult Beauty

SkinCeuticals Oil Shield UV Defense Sun Cream


Containing mattifying agents, this slips on easily, then dries down to a matte and dry to the touch — but never chalky — finish.

Buy now£45, Look Fantastic

Heliocare 360 Oil-Free Gel


Ask any top facialist which SPF brand they rate, and Heliocare will invariably be mentioned thanks to its ability to hang around. This one is perfect if you’re spot-prone — but that thing about it hanging around is absolutely true so be extra fastidious about cleansing before bed.

Buy now£34.80, Heliocare

Hello Sunday SPF50 The One That’s A Serum

Hello Sunday

If you’re someone who prefers a dewy finish, but you don’t want to tip your oily skin into greasy territory, a lightweight serum might just be ideal. This one contains antioxidants and hyaluronic acid to treat your skin, and is just the right side of hydrating.

Buy now£18.40, Cult Beauty

Ultra Violette Preen Screen SPF50+ Reapplication Mist

Ultra Violette

If you’ve painstakingly covered your spots in the morning, it’s unlikely you’ll want to remove your make-up for that essential top up of your SPF. That’s where this spray comes in handy — it won’t disrupt your make-up in the slightest.

Buy now£25.60, Cult Beauty

Medik8 Advanced Ultimate Protect SPF50+


I mean this with great reverence: this is a really excellent standard suncream. By this, I mean it doesn’t pretend to be anything else, but equally isn’t too greasy, isn’t too heavy, and will basically be the perfect lightweight layer on your skin throughout the summer.

Buy now£47.20, Cult Beauty

Lancaster Sun Beauty Invisible Face Fluid SPF30


Suncream brands don’t get any more cult than Lancaster, and it has remained a favourite amongst those in the know for good reason. I always go for this when it’s sweltering and I want something that’s a perfect base for make-up that won’t aggravate my skin.

Buy now£19.20, Cult Beauty