When used correctly, sunscreen can protect against sunburn and DNA damage to skin from UV radiation exposure. It can help minimise your risk of skin cancer as well as premature signs of ageing like pigmentation and deepening wrinkles. The problem is, it can be a time-consuming and costly exercise finding one that fits with your lifestyle and feels tolerable on skin, as well as performing effectively.
To help with selection, we have categorised some of the season’s options. No matter which you choose, make sure to always follow the directions on the packaging, and reapply regularly.
Sunscreen is only one part of effective sun protection and you should always avoid prolonged sun exposure, and cover up with clothing, hat and sunglasses when outside.
How to use sunscreen effectively
Cancer Council Australia recommends:
• Use sunscreen every day on days when the UV Index is forecast to be 3 or above. This information is reported by your weather provider.
• Look for sunscreens with an SPF of 30 or above, plus water resistance and broad-spectrum protection.
• Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going outside.
• Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after being in water or sweating.
• The average-sized adultshould apply 1 teaspoon to each arm, and to the face (including the ears and neck); and at least a teaspoon to each leg, the front of the body, and the back of the body. That’s 7 teaspoons for a full-body application.
• Mopping up sweat or using a towel after swimming can impact protection, even with water-resistant products, so reapply afterwards.
The Secret Solar Serum SPF50
This facial SPF is a lightweight liquid serum-like formula that is deeply hydrating. With a subtle universal peachy-bronze undertone provides natural coverage to even out skin tone and complexion. Sits well under makeup and leaves a radiant dewy glow.
Emma Lewisham Skinshield SPF 30 Face Crème
Mineral or physical sunscreens most often use zinc as a UV filter, and though they can be useful for sensitive skin or those that suffer pigmentation, they can leave a white cast on skin. This
one for face does require a bit of massaging in but is a modern formula that also offers additional hydrating, antioxidant and pigmentation-fighting benefits. The tub is refillable, too.
A good facial sunscreen needs to spread evenly, sink in quickly, not sting your eyes, not leave skin greasy and work well under makeup. This gentle option from Avène fits the bill and is the perfect balance between hydrating and lightweight. It’s also suitable for sensitive skin.
Jeuneora FullStop. SPF50 Daily Glow Screen
This vegan and cruelty free new arrival is designed to leave skin looking glowy and fresh as well and being well protected. It can be used as a hydrating primer under makeup or own it’s own for a radiant finish. Shea butter and ectoin deliver hydration, skin barrier support and antioxidant protection.
Its combination of chemical (organic) filters are designed to work in unison to block the broad spectrum of UV light. The lotion has an attractive, sweet-tart scent, with notes of spiced honey and berries. It feels a bit like a moisturiser and uses rosella (hibiscus sabdariffa) extract designed for long-lasting hydration plus antioxidants and aloe vera.
We’re not sure why there aren’t more lip products with SPF, but it’s an area that can be overlooked. The skin on your lips is thinner than elsewhere and susceptible to sun damage. For a glossy tinted finish that looks fab try Ultraviolette, while Aesop’s clear version is popular with men, too. For further lip options see our edit of 10 of the best SPFs for lips.
Coola Classic Sunscreen Spray SPF50
Aerosol sunscreen sprays have faced criticism from experts given coverage can be hit and miss. It can be tricky to know how much has been applied, where the clear spray has gone on or how close to hold the bottle to skin. Wind can also affect application. If these things are taken into account, sprays like the ones from Coola are lightweight and quick to apply and can be useful for small areas like your hands or the tops or your feet or topping up protection of another product.
Zinc sunscreens are often recommended as being good for sensitive skin types but they can also be drying. This option focuses on hydrating alongside its modern zinc formula, designed to rub in well and offers an antioxidant blend as well as hydrolysed pea protein, a naturally derived ferment the brand claims helps to defend the skin against blue light from the sun and device screens.
Skinnies Sungel SPF30
Its innovative clear balm-gel texture is what this NZ brand is known for. It’s made without water, works on all skin tones (unlike some with a thick white cast), and is made to be sweat resistant nor sting your eyes.
Suntegrity 5-in-1 Tinted Sunscreen Moisturizer SPF 30
Tinted options provide a time-saving solution; just make sure you’re applying enough to get maximal coverage. This brand uses gentle skin-nourishing formulas including hyaluronic acid, red algae and organic aloe vera with zinc oxide as a UV filter. The tint in this eliminates any white residue from the zinc.
Bondi Sands SPF 50+ Fragrance Free Sunscreen Lotion
If scented sunscreens are a challenge for you in terms of sensory issues or sensitive skin, Bondi Sands has a variety of fragrance-free options in this line including an aerosol mist and face fluid. The pump form here makes it easy to ensure you’re getting enough to provide good coverage.
FOR WET SKIN
Anthelios Wet Skin Sunscreen SPF 50+
Reapplying sunscreen efficiently after you’ve had a swim, or on slippery kids that won’t stay still when you’re at the beach, are challenges that minimise getting good performance from SPF. This
innovation from sunscreen experts La Roche-Posy could be the answer. The lotion is designed to apply just as well to wet skin, blends quickly and claims four hours’ water resistance.
EASY TO TOP UP
Naked Sundays SPF50+ Hydrating Glow Mist
There are various sheer SPF face sprays around now and they are one option for topping up your face protection, particularly if you’re wearing makeup. This one contains Vitamin C-rich kakadu
plum, hyaluronic acid and watermelon extract, intended to provide lasting skincare benefits.