Cream of the Crops

The latest self sun creams tried and tested

Pairing together the words ‘sun’ and ‘cream’ can arouse a minefield of beauty faux pas, from patchy, streaky tan lines to oily, sandy gloop-covered skin to that lingering potent scent that’s reminiscent only of nappy creams and Sudocrem.

And up until a few years ago, choosing a good sunscreen just meant looking for the correct SPF (sun protection factor), which rates how well the sunscreen protects against UVB’s – one type of cancer-causing UV ray.  However, newer research shows that ultraviolet A rays can also increase skin cancer risks, despite not causing sunburn. They penetrate deeply into the skin, causing wrinkles and damaging skin below its surface.  The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that up to 90 per cent of skin changes associated with aging are caused by a lifetime’s exposure to UVA rays.

For this reason, when selecting a sun cream, you must ensure it possesses these qualities:

–          SPF 15 or higher

–          UVA protection

–          Water and sweat resistance

–          Free of para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and benzephenones like dioxybenzone, oxybenzone, or sulisobenzone (harmful chemicals often used in adult sun creams).

But protecting your skin whilst ensuring you still get that beautiful sun-kissed holiday look needn’t be a chore. We’ve carefully selected the list below of the best sun creams on the market and provided all the details you need to make an informed decision. From smell to texture and ease of application, with a bit of science thrown in to boot, these creams have been analysed by our team of holiday beauty experts. All you need now is the beach…

1. Clarins Sun Care Spray Gentle Milk Lotion, UVA/UVB 20

Smell: Unbeatable, fresh scent that makes you think of palm trees and the seaside, incorporating aloe vera, stimulating coconut, moisturising senna and vitamin E.

Texture: Light, without being greasy or sticky. The milkly lotion also helps protect against the drying effects of salt, and nourishes, softens and revitalises the skin.

Ease of application: The spray-top bottle makes the lotion easy to apply. The cream absorbs well into the skin, drying at rapid speed, but keeping you moisturised all day.

Protection: With both UVA and UVB protection, this cream is also water-resistant and does not wear off. Light-stable, heat-resistant broad spectrum sun filters: deliver invisible UVB, UVA and Infra-red protection.

Overall impression: An excellent sun cream that’s long-lasting and smells divine. This is also great for anyone with sensitive skin or who usually gets prickly heat. We highly recommend!


2. L’Oreal Paris Solar Expertise, SPF 20

Smell: Lovely summer holiday scent that’s not too overpowering.

Texture: Extremely light, ultra fine.

Ease of application: Very easy and quick to apply, perfect for city living as it doesn’t stick to clothing or leave behind any stains.

Protection: Offers both UVA and UVB protection and is water-resistant. The product also contains patented Activa-Cell, which stimulates the skin’s defence and repair processes and reduces the appearance of brown spots and wrinkles.

Overall impression: For the price, there are better creams on the market protection-wise. However, this is a great cream for on-the-go protection and for those with mature skin. Keep a bottle in your bag and spray whenever you need it, but we wouldn’t recommend it for very fair skin or for a long day at the beach.

£14, Available from pharmacies nationwide.

3. L’ancome Soleil, DNA Guard, SPF 15

Smell: Delicate fragrance combines the light airy scent of white flowers with cool and fresh citrus notes

Texture: Great mist texture and luxurious feel. Silky smooth, it glides easily over the skin, with no feeling of stickiness or greasiness

Ease of application: Extremely easy to apply mist formula. Enriched with Mango extract, it nourishes the skin leaving it radiant and healthy-looking

Protection: Has a UVA/UVB filtration system that helps give effective and ideally balanced protection against both UVB and UVA rays to help protect against the appearance of sun-generated wrinkles. By protecting the skin from the sun’s harmful rays the formula, enriched with White Willow extract, helps shield the cells self-defense system. However, you should use a higher SPF for prolonged sun exposure.

Overall impression: A fabulous all-rounder, highly recommended for those who already have an existing tan.


4. Nivea Sun Light feeling Sun Lotion, SPF 50

Smell: Smells like all of Nivea’s products, light, but pleasant.

Texture: As it says in the name – light. It is also non-sticky and non-greasy. Doesn’t leave behind any nasty streaks.

Ease of application: Glides on nicely and is easily absorbed, leaving behind no white residue. Sand doesn’t stick to it as it soaks in very quickly.

Protection: Enhanced UVA & UVB Protection System and immediate protection with a high SPF. Unfortunately the product is not very waterproof.

Overall impression: A great one for all the family, particularly good for the kids. They won’t get a rash like they may with other creams and the protection it provides is unbeatable for the price. Great value product.


5. Soltan Lotion with Coconut Fragrance, SPF15

Smell: Divine! Puts you in that holiday mood and will receive tons of compliments.

Texture: Creamy and luxurious, but a little thick for a sun cream.

Ease of application: A little on the thick side and not as easy to use as the spray bottles. This product is not as easily absorbed as other sun creams on the market.

Protection: SPF 15 and a five star UVA rating. This moisturising sun lotion also contains a triple action formula which helps to neutralise free radicals. Not waterproof.

Overall impression: Do not use this product if wearing white – it will leave a stain.


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