Tried, Tested and (mostly) Rejected: Sun Protection

Posted by Lipglossiping On August - 1 - 2011

I owe you an apology for the sun protection series that never happened.  I planned my posts, split the topic down into the main aspects I wanted to cover but then a few things happened that prevented me from seeing things through…

1).  Turns out there are only 24 hours in a day.  Who knew.

2).  I wanted professional input but one contact went silent halfway through the process and the other replied to my questions with single word answers and I was frankly too aware that they were both doing me a favour to push my luck.

3).  I may have also got the mega wobbles about doing such an important subject justice.

So basically, I failed but I can honestly say that I failed with the best of intentions.

Still, all the ‘homework’ that I put into the series hasn’t entirely gone to waste as it has given me understanding and knowledge that has left me far better prepared to comment on some of the sun protection I’ve discovered this Summer and I’ve needed this time to use, compare and decide on my favourite facial sun protection products on the market today.

Let’s start from the top shall we?

1.  Dr. Brandt UV SPF 30 PA+++* is an an advanced broad spectrum UV protectant that contains ‘dry touch’ technology.  It wears exceptionally well under makeup and provides a satin finish with no white cast.  Packaged in an airless pump, it refused to dispense for me on a few occasions leaving me pumping nothing but air until I swore at it and it behaved again.

I wasn’t hugely keen on the scent but it deserves top marks for leaving a practically naked finish.  Medium-textured and water resistant for 80 minutes.

Price:  £30.00 for 30g at SpaceNK

Repurchase?:  Probably not, it contains Oxybenzone and I don’t like the scent.


2.  Alpha-H Daily Essential Moisturiser SPF 50+ is an incredibly light-textured solution blended with antioxidant Vitamin E, calming Aloe Vera and pure Honeycomb extract for hydration aswell as sun protection.  This is another superb sun cream to wear under makeup leaving no white residue and providing a dry finish without a hint of greasiness.  Claims water resistance of up to 4 hours.

Price:  £21.82 for 50ml at QVC

Repurchase?:  My heart says yes but my head says no.  Again, this contains Oxybenzone.


3.  Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+ PA+++ is a fluid-textured solution that feels cooling to the skin when applied.  It leaves no white casts and a slightly dewy (but not greasy) finish.  Perhaps better for normal/dry skins though as it lacks the immediate touch-dry feel of the other two.  It sets after a couple of minutes, which is how long I usually wait before applying makeup over it.  No claims of water resistance.

Price: Around £12 for 50ml from eBay

Repurchase?: Again, probably not.  It’s great value but contains Octinoxate.


4.  Avon ANEW Solar Advance Sunscreen Face Lotion SPF50 PA+++* similar in finish to the Biore but with a heavier texture.  This is definitely more cream than fluid but the most pleasant smelling of all sun creams trialled.  Packaging is a frustration because the bods at Avon decided it would be a good idea to print orange text over a yellow bottle, cue much squinting.

Again, this works best if you leave it a couple of minutes before applying make up but again, it left no white casts on my skin and once ‘set’, I experienced no issues with products that I used over it.

Price:  Currently £8.50 for 75ml at Avonshop – an absolute bargain!

Repurchase:  Unlikely, it’s another one to use Oxybenzone as a UVA/UVB filter and is a little heavier textured than the others.


5.  SkinCeuticals Sheer Mineral UV Defense SPF50* is an all-mineral sunscreen that employs physical UV filters Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide to protect the skin from the sun.  You would usually expect to be left with a white residue as these ingredients sit on the skin’s surface, physically deflecting the UV rays but SkinCeuticals Sheer Mineral UV Defense uses micronized particles to provide a sheer, non-chalky finish.  The texture is extremely fluid and needs a good shake before applying as it does separate in the bottle.

Paraben-free and contains plankton extract to increase the skin’s defences against UV and heat stresses.

Price:  £26.99 for 50ml at Dermacare Direct

Repurchase:  Possibly, though I found the mattifying effect a little drying for my combo/dry skin.


6.  Neals Yard Remedies Wild Rose Daily Moisture SPF 30* is the first sunscreen to be certified by the Soil Association (it’s 56% Organic) and contains only one active ingredient: Zinc Oxide.  Naturally scented (as you would expect), the tube dispenses a heavy-textured cream that takes a bit more effort to massage into your skin compared to the others on trial.  Once rubbed in, it dries to a velvety finish with no white residue.  It feels more comforting for my dry skin than the SkinCeuticals but otherwise, very similar once set.

Also contains antioxidant-rich wild rosehip oil and milk thistle, is paraben-free and wears beautifully under makeup.

Price:  £23.50 for 50ml at Neals Yard Remedies.

Repurchase:  Absolutely.  100% mineral, matt-finish but with the added benefits of moisturisation makes Neals Yard Remedies my winning choice.


A note on my personal choice to avoid some synthetic UV filters:  I’ve made the decision to avoid some UV filters that have been linked to possible hormone disruption.  The jury is still out on the validity of studies that have flagged these safety issues but whilst there are good alternative choices available, I’m pleased to be able to make them.

* press sample

18 Responses to “Tried, Tested and (mostly) Rejected: Sun Protection”

  1. Thanks for testing these so I can avoid! I stick with Neutrogena and Bioderma.

  2. Lilmiznutcase says:

    I just stick whatever I have in the house on. I quite like dry oils but thats about it for my preferences. Is there anything else we should be looking out for other than the SPF value? And why were professionals so unforthcoming? Did you speak to company reps or dermatologists?

  3. RaeRae says:

    I was using Neutrogena Multi Defence SPF 25 but it is a bloody nightmare. It quite quickly flakes off into little balls and you have to wait an age to avoid this happening as you apply foundation… Also to avoid the flakies you have to apply very little so you’re probably not getting the SPF on the bottle.

    Just one to add to the list if it helps anyone!

  4. luxiehoney says:

    ohhhh I’m doing a similar post on this issue this week! :) Although less on ingredients (I don’t know enough to comment) but on performance. I’ll link it up here when it’s done! xxx

  5. cclarebear says:

    Another good option is SkinQR – I’m using their sunscreen at the moment and the active ingredients are Titanium Dioxide (Sunscreen)-10% & Zinc Oxide (Sunscreen) 2.5%. It leaves a brief white cast and takes a few minutes to settle in, but it’s pretty good for the price. I love that it’s all natural and it’s a physical block instead of just a chemical block. link here –

  6. FragrantWitch says:

    I heartily support Neal’s Yard for the winner- it is lovely and well worth the extra bit of rubbing. I just used it whilst on holiday in America and it did very well in the 40+ heat! I felt okay putting it on my daughters faces as well, more for the moisturisation due to all the sun and swimming but the SPF was a bonus.

  7. Rachael says:

    Yeah, I was pretty disappointed that the series never happened. Maybe next time don’t say you’re going to do it till its almost done? Anyway, what’s wrong with oxybenzone?

    • Hi Rachael, I should have held back ’til completed but I really don’t have time to schedule my posts further than about 12 hours in advance. Everything you read during the day has been written some time between 9pm and 2am the evening before.

      You’re right – I think it means that I need to think a bit harder about commiting to ‘series’ of posts like that rather than just get over-excited in an ‘ooooh good idea!’ kinda way.

      I’m sorry that you were disappointed.

      As for oxybenzone, the EWG has an interesting article on the chemical. Of course, there’s always two side to every story but as I said, if there are sunscreen options that are free from potential hormone interruptors, I’m happy to use them!

  8. Meeta says:

    Thanks for this. I have been curious about the Skinceuticals one so I might try that at one point. I tested the Dr Brandt in SpaceNK today and it does feel rather nice but I am trying to avoid chemical filters.

  9. luxiehoney says:

    Here we go :) this is a rundown of some of the sunscreens I’ve tried, quite different to your list too xxx

  10. Ah, I was wondering what happened to the series! Thanks for the roundup and please do share some knowledge with you whenever you get the chance. I would rather get random tidbits here and there than nothing at all!

  11. Helena says:

    Thank you for doing this – will check out the Neals Yard one when I’m next anywhere near a stockist.

    (And absolutely no need to apologise; I’m sure your readers all understand that life happens. And please, please don’t stop getting uber-excited about your excellent ideas!)

  12. Ozana says:

    Hi,thanks for your post! I’ve tried to find on the net the full list of ingredients for the Alpha-H Daily Essential Moisturiser SPF 50+ and I couldn’t. Sometimes one can find the list of key ingredients. Since you have one, would it be too much to kindly ask you to post the full list of ingredients? Thanks so much. O

  13. Maggie says:

    Rachael – aren’t you rude?! Maybe next time brush up on basic manners before leaving comments.

  14. Katrine says:

    Sunscreen reviews are always nice – I’m sure added knowledge on your end benefits their quality, even if we do not get our education from you, ourselves! Someone who has done a series on sunscreen which I find very well done is 15 Min. Beauty fanatic. Presumably her being a doctor gives her a bit of an edge on the chemistry front, but what do I know – either way, it sounds like she knows what she is talking about! Very methodical lady 😀

  15. Sarah says:

    Reading this one a bit late – never mind – still relevant,

    Don’t worry when writing an article about “doing it justice” – just present the facts as they stand – both sides of the argument and let the reader decide for themselves what their own course of action shall be. You are not the Daily Mail – you are not here to influence people one way or the other – stick to the facts – well laid out with a few “quotes” if you can get them but there are plenty of research papers in the public domain you could refer to.

    I would definitely think that at least providing a few reasons why you are rejecting a product based on ingredients or a link where people can read more would be helpful – rather than leaving us hanging :-) Then it’s our choice if we decide to use something with oxy-whatyamacall, find out more about it or just ignore it and continue to buy what we like.

    As long as there’s good content, a pros and cons or for and against and plenty of great pics which we know you do well then i’m sure you would do it justice anyway!

    take care!

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