Best sunscreen for your face with SPF for moisturising protection

The face sun lotions changing up the SPF game

The Evening Standard's journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Ellie Davis23 April 2024
ES Best

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter for hot deals, best buys and expert reviews

I would like to be emailed about offers, event and updates from Evening Standard. Read our privacy notice.

Whether you are a sun worshipper, shade hogger or outdoor adventurer, we cannot stress enough the importance of adding sunscreen to your warm weather plans this summer and beyond.

A reliable sun cream should be one of the most important items on your holiday checklist - no matter if you’re basking in the British sunshine on a staycation or jetting off to far-flung destinations (here’s hoping!).

While coating our complexions in lotions and potions during the warmer weather has been stressed since we were children, it should play a staple part in your skincare regime come rain or shine.

What is SPF?

The acronym stands for Sun Protection Factor. It’s a common misconception that this refers to the level of shielding that the cream provides and instead is a measurement of time that it will protect your complexion and body from ultraviolet (UV) rays. If you burn in just one minute of sun exposure, SPF50 will give you 50 minutes until you need to reapply. The lower the SPF, the more frequently you need to reapply.

Why is SPF important?

London-based cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting explains, “Using sunscreen has been shown to prevent both skin cancer and premature ageing so it should be the first daily “anti-ageing” step in any skincare routine”. These formulas act as a barrier between the sun and your skin and are important for preventing serious skin conditions like cancer.

Should I apply a facial SPF daily?

Apply half a teaspoon each day to give your skin sufficient coverage from harmful UVA and UVB rays as well as blue light that can cause premature skin ageing, hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tones.

Dr Thivi Maruthappu Consultant Dermatologist at The Skin Health Alliance explains, “UV light is the number one cause of fine lines and wrinkles and so it makes total sense why we recommend wearing factor 30 SPF on a daily basis, even if you are spending time indoors as the light still passes through window glass. Think of it as part of your regular morning routine, like brushing your teeth.”

Dr Sam adds, “These rays are present all year round and penetrate through glass which is why I advocate daily use of sunscreen, rain or shine”.

Does SPF stop tanning?

“A tan is our skin’s defence mechanism against the damaging effect of UV rays, so there is no such thing as a safe tan”, says Dr Sam. “I encourage patients to seek shade, cover up and use sunscreen as a complete approach to protecting against the sun’s rays. I also recommend taking a vitamin D supplement all year round so there is no need to expose oneself to the sun for this essential hormone”.

Is SPF 15 enough?

“Look for broad spectrum protection when choosing your sunscreen”, recommends Dr Sam Bunting. “A high Sun Protection Factor of at least SPF30 indicates good protection against UVB rays which can burn the skin and good UVA protection protects against the more deeply penetrating rays that cause accelerated collagen breakdown and pigmentation”.

How long does sunscreen last on your face?

This depends. As a general rule, it is advised to reapply every two hours, especially if you’re sweating or you’ve been swimming.

Why do I need separate sunscreen for my body and face?

It is not essential to have two different products for the body and the face but these are often created with different ingredients. For example, you are likely to find more complexion-loving skincare ingredients in an SPF for the face that are more gentle, more easily absorbed and lighter weight.

Gone are the days in which sun creams are sticky, chalky and laborious. Innovation in suncare protection has come on leaps and bounds with second skin-like formulas that feel lightweight and don’t leave residue or a white cast – so you can focus on what really matters; sun, sea and sangria.

We have tried and tested the best SPFs for your face with high-factor protection and quick and easy absorption.

Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF 30

  • Best for: A radiance boost
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 50ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Chemical

Direct from the US, Supergoop has hit British shores with a bang. The suncare label is beloved by editors and dermatologists alike for the ease that it brings to the application process. From the Unseen Sunscreen and the Play Everyday Lotion, to the Glowscreen, the products are efficacious and absorb quickly and seamlessly into the skin.

This is not suncream as you’ve previously known it - it’s non-comedogenic, can be used on all skin tones and doubles up as a primer. Glowscreen is our top pick for the dewy finish that the pearlescent formula provides. A hit of hydration, a natural glow (that’s not oily, sticky or greasy) and SPF 30 - what could be better? It’s also reef-safe and cruelty-free.

The Glowscreen now comes in four shades. Joining the original Sunrise hue are Dawn, Golden Hour and Sunset.

Buy now£32, Cult Beauty

Ultra Violette Clean Screen Fragrance Free Sensitive Facial Skinscreen SPF 30

Ultra Violette
  • Best for: skincare-SPF hybrid
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 50ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Mineral

A suncream without the laborious thick texture, Ultra Violette is leading a revolution in the SPF space with formulas that are a dream to apply. The Clean Screen Fragrance Free Sensitive Facial Skinscreen is packed with kind-to-skin ingredients that nourish while shielding from the harmful sun’s rays.

It was created with sensitive skin types in mind as well as blemish-prone with a lightweight texture that shouldn’t cause breakouts. The product is free from artificial fragrance and alcohol and instead includes soothing broad-spectrum shielding titanium dioxide.

Buy now£25.60, Cult Beauty

Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 50

  • Best for: Virtually undetectable
  • SPF: 50
  • Size: 50ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Chemical

Glossier has reformulated its Invisible Shield SPF and while you can expect the same fuss-free application as its predecessor, it’s like an entirely different product. First and foremost, the previous water-gel formula leans more towards the gel end of the spectrum now with a thicker consistency. Yet despite this, it still applies easily and absorbs quickly into the skin, leaving behind a soft powder-like feel and airbrush effect. Next, it’s SPF 50, increasing its protection from SPF30.

There is no white cast here, unsurprisingly considering the product is see-through out the tube. Instead, like the name suggests, it’s non-detectable and works double duty as a primer before makeup application. There is a slight greasy residue akin to a primer but this doesn’t hinder its layerability. It’s just a shame that it is 50ml and not 100ml, even if this is more than the SPF30 which is 30ml.

Buy now£25, Glossier

La Roche-Posay Anthelios UV Mune 400 Fluid Oil Control SPF 50

La Roche-Posay
  • Best for: Sensitive skin
  • SPF: 50+
  • Size: 50ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Chemical

This sun cream glides seamlessly onto the complexion for a second skin-like feel. It is ideal for blemish-prone, oily and combination skin due to the minimalistic formula that is free from unnecessary and harmful chemicals. The lightweight texture is designed for sensitive skin and so will not cause irritation but instead will soothe as it shields. It contains a combination of Airlicium that absorbs oil and has a mattifying effect. The product absorbs quickly without leaving white marks, stains or a greasy residue behind.

The brand describes this SPF as the most advanced protection against harmful ageing UV filters that can cause a loss of elasticity and damage to collagen structures. This is through the UVMune 400 filter, dubbed as the most efficient against those long UVA (A for ageing) rays.

Buy now£20.01, Boots

Sarah Chapman Skin Insurance SPF30

Sarah Chapman
  • Best for: Beauty editor seal of approval
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 30ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Chemical

There is a reason that you’ll spot this product on the bathroom shelves of beauty editors. It’s a facial cream that can take the place of your traditional moisturiser, but that’s only where the goodness begins. It is infused with specialised optical blurring technology as well as an adaptive tint.

This means just one colour works for all skin tones but it is very light coverage. It also provides a flawless filter finish and a healthy radiance in just one swipe. There’s no residue and the texture feels like a second skin, so it’s ideal for humid and warmer summer days. For all skin types, including acne-prone.

Buy now£69, Space NK

Caudalie Vinosun Very High Protection Lightweight Cream SPF50+

  • Best for: Fragrance
  • SPF: 50+
  • Size: 40ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Mineral

Applying this cream from Caudalie feels like a luxurious treat. Gone are the days when SPF was an arduous chore, this suncare product makes light work of the application process. The formula is made up of the French label’s signature ingredient - grape-derived polyphenols - to soothe skin.

It will sit undetected under your makeup but still packs a powerful protective punch, shielding from UVA and UVB rays. It’s not sticky on the skin and is free from any nasties and so, it’s non-toxic to marine life. The product has a beautiful but subtle floral fragrance.

Buy now£25, Cult Beauty

Clinique Mineral Sunscreen Fluid for Face SPF30

  • Best for: No white cast
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 30ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Mineral

This mineral sun cream from Clinique is great for those who find traditional chemical suncare irritating - literally and in terms of their often cumbersome textures. It is an oil-free formula that uses titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to deflect the sun rays as they reach you (chemical sun creams absorb the rays).

The product itself is extremely lightweight and melts into the skin on application without leaving a white cast behind. It dries quickly and then you can apply makeup on top with no issues of flaking or clumping.

Buy now£21.60, Clinique

The INKEY List SPF30 Sunscreen 100% Mineral UV Filters 50ml

The Inkey List
  • Best for: A purse-friendly price tag
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 50ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Mineral

For a no-fuss, no-frills approach to skincare, look no further than The Inkey List and its range of products that do exactly what they say on the tin. Straightforward and efficacious, this 100 per cent mineral product gives UVA and UVB protection, while also being vegan, cruelty-free, reef-safe and free from any fragrance.

The product can be used on all skin types including those with sensitive skin and is non-comedogenic so works for blemish-prone too. The combination of zinc oxide with the added bonus of Shea butter ensures that while it’s defending your complexion from free radicals, it’s nourishing it at the same time.

Buy now£14.99, The INKEY List

NUXE Sun High Protection Fondant Cream for Face SPF 50

  • Best for: Luxury
  • SPF: 50+
  • Size: 50ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Chemical

Sun worshippers, you’re in for a treat with Nuxe. This SPF for the face is formulated with the Kau Pe sunflower to support the skin’s resilience and prevent you from overheating. This is combined with the hydrating benefits of water hyacinth that results in solid sun protection that will not add to your skin concerns.

The product gives a natural glow to the skin and even works to minimise the appearance of dark spots.

Buy now£22, lookfantastic

SkinCeuticals Sheer Mineral UV Defense SPF 50

  • Best for: A science-backed formula
  • SPF: 50
  • Size: 50ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Mineral

A mineral sunscreen that is best used after a good shake, this lotion is so lightweight it’s practically undetectable when applied. The pleasant texture and skin-friendly ingredients mean this is ideal for any skin type, even the highly sensitive. It’s water-resistant, has excellent high protection, and is matte in finish, making it a great all-rounder.

Buy now£39.99, Face The Future

Malin + Goetz SPF 30 Sunscreen High Protection

Malin + Goetz
  • Best for: A gel-cream texture
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 50ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Mineral

Malin + Goetz’s foray into sunscreen has resulted in a mineral formulation that glides onto the skin with ease. No need to waste precious minutes of your life trying to rub in thick laborious consistencies when you have this lightweight, non-greasy SPF 30 on your side. It works double duty to bring hydration to your complexion at the same time as well as shielding against UV rays and external aggressors.

Buy now£33, Cult Beauty

Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-Aging Moisturiser SPF 50

Paula’s Choice
  • Best for: A matte finish
  • SPF: 50
  • Size: 60ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Chemical

The lightweight formula of Paula’s Choice SPF moisturiser is just what you’ve been looking for to prevent suncare-related breakouts. It helps to reduce the appearance of your pores while shielding your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays.

Ideal for oily or acne-prone skin, it doesn’t feel greasy on application but instead has a mattifying effect. It is packed with plant extracts that are brimming with antioxidant benefits that will minimise the look of red marks, soothe irritation and fight against external aggressors.

Buy now£39, Space NK

Aesop Protective Facial Lotion SPF25

  • Best for: Aesthetically pleasing packaging
  • SPF: 25
  • Size: 50ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Chemical

When Aesop first introduced this product into its range several years ago, the brand couldn’t keep it from flying off the shelves. The chic-looking tube houses a light, velvety lotion that sinks in with ease and won’t feel heavy over moisturiser. With a matte finish, this works wonderfully prior to makeup application, especially if you have an oilier complexion.

Buy now£45, Aesop

Dermatica SPF 50 Photodamage Defence Sunscreen

  • Best for: Skincare and makeup layering
  • SPF: 50
  • Size: 50ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Chemical

Depending on who you ask, some elements of the skincare world can be open to interpretation or down to personal preference, yet one unequivocal fact is that we all must wear SPF every single day.

Dermatica is making that easier with this formula that does more than simply protect from free radicals (although it does this with SPF50). The suncare product also includes glycerin that locks in the skin’s moisture and panthenol that supports the skin’s barrier. This ensures that while protecting your complexion, it is boosting it at the same time. The formula is lightweight, absorbs quickly and can be layered under makeup with ease.

Buy now£15.95, Dermatica

Avène Very High Protection Cleanance SPF50+ Sun Cream for Blemish-Prone Skin 50ml

  • Best for: Stressed-out skin
  • SPF: 50+
  • Size: 50ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Chemical

French pharmacy label Avene specialises in formulas for sensitive skin, including in its Cleanance range for blemish-prone - two things that don’t often go hand in hand. This MO ensures that while you’re coating your complexion in the UVA and UVB-protecting cream when using this sun cream, you’re also imparting bacteria-busting technology as well as hydrating ingredients so you can apply content in the knowledge that you’re exacerbating the breakout situation while soaking up the sun’s rays.

Buy now£21, lookfantastic

Coola Full Spectrum 360 Sun Silk Drops Organic Face Sunscreen SPF 30

  • Best for: Non-toxic composition
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 30ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Mineral

Coola is beloved by the suncream community for its natural and organic-based suncare. We are huge fans of the Pina Colada scented products but for face, the label excels in its Sun Silk Drops that live up to the name with its smooth, luxurious texture.

Feel-good, do-good, the formula will protect against UV rays, infrared and blue light, harnessing the power of 70 per cent certified organic ingredients. No sticky or tacky residue here, it's super lightweight and gives a very welcomed luminous finish.

Buy now£45, Selfridges

REN Clean Screen Mineral Sun Cream SPF 30

  • Best for: ocean-friendly ingredients
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 50ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Mineral

Mineral sunscreens (as opposed to chemical sunscreens) are so often associated with thick formulas and white residues that they were shunned for years. However, with our growing concern for the oceans, brands are starting to bring back reef-safe mineral SPFs, but in a new, modern way.

This one is a great example; it protects effectively, is safe to wear in the oceans without harming our ecosystem, and absolutely doesn’t leave any product behind.

Buy now£25.50, ASOS

Beauty Pie Super Healthy Skin Ultralight UVA/UVB SPF25

  • Best for: Doubling up as a makeup primer
  • SPF: 25
  • Size: 50ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Chemical

When it comes to skincare, Beauty Pie really can do no wrong, so it comes as no surprise that its SPF is of impeccable quality. While it’s a targeted SPF, the formula feels much more like a smoothing, velvety moisturiser or luxurious makeup primer, meaning you no longer have to apply three products in a row if you reach for this. It’s also loaded with ‘it’ hydrating ingredient hyaluronic acid.

Buy now£13.50, Beauty Pie

Dr Barbara Sturm Sun Drops SPF50

Dr Barbara Sturm
  • Best for: A dermatologist-led label
  • SPF: 50
  • Size: 30ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Chemical

Don’t be put off by the eye-watering price tag. If you pay up for your favourite skincare brands, you should be doing the same for your everyday SPF - otherwise, what is the point in the former? For those with blemish-prone or easily sensitive skin, Dr Barbara Sturm has created the now iconic Sun Drops to protect you from the harmful rays of the sun, while not aggravating your concerns.

The formula is packed with vitamin E and cassine extract that encourage cell regeneration as well as glycerine and arginine that have hydrating effects and will protect against free radical damage respectively. It also feels lightweight so can be used as the last step in your skincare regime, combined with your moisturiser or placed under makeup without the skin feeling overloaded.

Buy now£115, Space NK

Summer Fridays ShadeDrops Broad Spectrum SPF 30

Summer Fridays
  • Best for: A lightweight texture
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 50ml
  • Mineral or chemical: Mineral

The suncream space is constantly innovating and brands like Summer Fridays are making it easier than ever to apply - so you have no excuse not to be wearing SPF every single day.

This mineral formulation has been created to be so lightweight that it washes over the skin in much of the same way as a serum. No casts, pilling or balling up, it sits nicely onto the complexion, nourishing with the combination of vitamins, antioxidants and chamomile (known for its soothing benefits), while also protecting against UVA/UVB rays.

Buy now£35, Cult Beauty


From the crop above, it is clear that suncare has come a long way from the white, sticky textures of time gone by. For everyday use, Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF 30 has revolutionised the game. It deflects UV rays, won’t clog pores, doesn’t feel greasy and that luminescent finish is unrivalled. Honourable mention also goes to Ultra Violette and its range of luxurious protective products that make daily application a breeze.