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16 best sunscreens for your face 2024: Daily SPF protection, from sensitive to non-greasy formulas

Sunscreen is arguably the most important step of your facial routine, whatever your skintype

Lauren Cunningham
Monday 12 February 2024 09:04 GMT
<p>Not one of these suncreams, sprays and sticks allowed our tester to burn  </p>

Not one of these suncreams, sprays and sticks allowed our tester to burn

Our Top Picks

Sunscreen is incredibly important, there’s no two ways about it. But whether you wear it every day (as we all should), slather it on while on holiday or still scrimp on the skin-protecting product, knowing which one to pick is incredibly important.

Setting the record straight on all things SPF, we sat down with Supergoop! founder Holly Thaggard to answer all our sunscreen queries, from what SPF we should be wearing to how much we should apply and why it is so darn important.

“SPF is the single most important thing that we can do for our skin,” Thaggard shared. “The sun’s UVA rays shine at about the same intensity year-round and penetrate things like clouds and windows. They attack a deeper layer of our skin, leading to all the little things we don’t like about it – wrinkles, dark spots, etc. – and can even lead to skin cancer as well.”

“When used correctly and applied generously and evenly, sunscreen with SPF 30 to 50 will offer adequate protection from the sun’s UV rays. Anything below SPF 30 really isn’t strong enough, and anything above SPF 50 almost creates a false sense of protection with unnecessary active ingredients,” she added.

And for those still learning about SPF, it’s easiest to think of the numbers as the amount of added protection. For example, using an SPF30 will protect you for 30 times longer than if you weren’t wearing anything at all.

By “applied generously”, Thaggard means apply however much you think is enough, then add a little more, with the general rule being to top up every two hours. And, we promise, those chalky, sticky lotions are absolutely a thing of the past, just keep reading to see exactly why.

How we tested the best sunscreens for your face

We tested the creams for feel, finish and scent on the skin

Jetting off to Zimbabwe with a suitcase full of sunscreens, our tester truly went that extra mile (or 8,136, to be exact) to put these SPFs to the test. Looking at ease of application as well as how they felt, looked and even smelt on the skin and, of course, how well they protected from the sun, these 11 impressed us the most. And not one of them allowed any sunburn to take place.

The best sunscreens for your face for 2024 are:

  • Best sunscreen for your face overall – La Roche-Posay anthelios UVmune 400 oil control fluid: £20, Boots.com
  • Best budget sunscreen – Garnier Ambre Solair ultra-light sensitive sun protection face fluid SPF50+: £13, Lookfantastic.com
  • Best mineral sunscreen – Supergoop! mattescreen sunscreen SPF30: £15, Sephora.co.uk
  • Best SPF for dry skin – Aēsop protective facial lotion SPF25: £45, Lookfantastic.com
  • Best SPF for sensitive skin – Ultra Violette clean screen sensitive skinscreen SPF30: £32, Spacenk.com

La Roche-Posay anthelios UVmune 400 oil control fluid

La Roche-Posay anthelios UVmune 400 oil control fluid.jpg
  • Best: Sunscreen for your face overall
  • SPF: 50+
  • Size: 50ml
  • Type: Lotion
  • Mineral or chemical : Chemical
  • Key ingredients: Airlicium
  • Why we love it
    • For sensitive skin
    • Reduces shine

La Roche-Posay is a go-to for great beauty products, and its sunscreen is no exception. Ticking every box we could create, including UVA, UVB and long UVA protection, being suitable for sensitive skin, non-greasy and lightweight, it more than delivers in every area. Incredibly easy to apply, the thin neck tube dispenses just the right amount to cover every area of the face, and the lightweight lotion instantly absorbs into the skin. Reducing shine, we found you’ll still get a fresh-faced glow minus any sticky or oily sensation, and it keeps you safe from the sun no matter how strong. Trust us when we say it’s a true standout star.

  1. £20 from Boots.com
Prices may vary
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Garnier Ambre Solair ultra-light sensitive sun protection face fluid SPF50+

best sunscreen face mineral facial spf tint non greasy sensitive skin
  • Best: Budget sunscreen
  • SPF: 50+
  • Size: 40ml
  • Type: Lotion
  • Mineral or chemical : Chemical
  • Key ingredients : Vitamin E and hyaluronic acid
  • Why we love it
    • Impressive ingredients list
    • Affordable

For many of us, the bigger, the better, but that’s not always the case with sunscreens – especially when considering we need to top-up every two hours. In a perfect pocket size, this Garnier option is great for on-the-go and can be taken almost anywhere.

Small size aside, the lightweight lotion instantly absorbs into the skin, while hyaluronic acid and vitamin E give that hit of hydration. The smell is certainly your typical sunscreen, but it all but disappears after a couple of minutes once fully absorbed into the face with no greasy, shiny residue. Protecting from both UVB, UVA and long UVA rays, it really has your back at every corner. And, coming in at less than £15, it’s a true bargain buy.

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Boots SPF+ niacinamide moisturising lotion

Boots SPF+ niacinamide moisturising lotion.png
  • Best: Skincare-sunscreen hybrid
  • SPF: 50
  • Size: 50ml
  • Type: Lotion
  • Mineral or chemical: Chemical
  • Key ingredients: Niacinamide
  • Why we love it
    • Affordable
    • Impressive ingredient list

Boots has just launched a range of skin-boosting SPFs, and it’s safe to say we’re incredibly impressed. Niacinamide, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid make up the collection of bargain beauty buys, each tailored to a different skin need. We reached for niacinamide, to help support the skin barrier, boost moisture levels and reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and we loved the skincare-sunscreen hybrid. It’s a little thick, so can be used in place of your morning moisturiser, although no chalky white residue will be found on the face. So, if you’re looking for a sunscreen that goes one step further than protecting from those UV rays, look no further.

  1. £8 from Boots.com
Prices may vary
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Medik8 advanced day ultimate protect

best sunscreen face mineral facial spf tint non greasy sensitive skin
  • Best: High-factor SPF
  • SPF: 50+
  • Size: 50ml
  • Type: Lotion
  • Mineral or chemical : Chemical
  • Key ingredients : DNA repair enzymes and squalane
  • Why we love it
    • High factor
    • Impressive ingredients list
  • Take note
    • Expensive

Medik8’s philosophy is based on only three ingredients: vitamin C, sunscreen and vitamin A, meaning sun protection truly is in sharp focus. High factor with SPF 50+ and PA++++ protecting against UVA rays, it shields skin from all elements of sun damage. Although expensive, each tube is said to last around two months if applied every day, which makes the cost come down to quite a reasonable amount.

The ingredients list is also incredibly impressive, boasting squalane and hyaluronic acid for moisture, DNA repair enzymes to boost the skin’s ability to repair, blueberry seed oil to shield against blue light and carnosine to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. So, using it only alongside a vitamin C serum in the morning and a moisturiser and vitamin A sometimes at night, our tester has found it to be one of the simplest and most effective skincare routines they’ve ever tried.

  1. £47 from medik8.com
Prices may vary
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Supergoop! mattescreen sunscreen SPF30

best face SPF
  • Best: Mineral sunscreen
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 45ml
  • Type: Powder-like lotion
  • Mineral or chemical : Mineral
  • Key ingredients: Zinc oxide, glycerin

In our review of the best mineral sunscreens we’ve explained exactly what they are, but, in short, mineral sunscreens have particles that sit on the skin’s surface to shield it from the sun rather than chemicals that help to protect it from within. While that may sound a bit heavy and greasy, we promise it’s not, and Supergoop! is here to show us why.

In a semi-dry-like lotion that looks a little bit like a powder, this sunscreen feels more like a make-up primer. Leaving the skin silky soft, it sits on the skin surface (either alone, under or over make-up) like an invisible shield helping to keep sweaty faces at bay. Protecting the face from both UVA and UVB rays, it’s a great all-rounder that also helps to reduce shine and smooth skin, and our tester was incredibly impressed.

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Hello Sunday the take out one invisible sun stick

best sunscreen face mineral facial spf tint non greasy sensitive skin
  • Best: SPF for on-the-go
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 30g
  • Type: Stick
  • Mineral or chemical : Chemical
  • Key ingredients : Hyaluronic acid and coconut alkanes
  • Why we love it
    • Easy to apply
  • Take note
    • Moves make-up

Applying sunscreen every two hours is rarely an enjoyable task. In fact, sometimes the thought of rubbing your dirty hands over your face is enough to make us not want to do it. Enter Hello Sunday’s the take out one, and our problem has been solved, as this invisible stick glides onto skin effortlessly, providing an invisible shield of SPF.

Our tester loved how easy it was to apply, and although it can shift make-up slightly, it’s a much easier option than your regular lotion. We’ll be keeping ours in our handbags for on-the-go applications no matter if we’re on a beach, at a park or even on public transport. It really couldn’t be easier.

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Chanel UV essentiel

Chanel UV essentiel .png
  • Best: Designer sunscreen
  • SPF: 50
  • Size: 30ml
  • Type: Lotion
  • Mineral or chemical: Chemical
  • Key ingredients: Blue ginger and Tahitian gardenia extract
  • Why we love it
    • Impressive ingredients list
  • Take note
    • Expensive

Last year, we were incredibly impressed by Chanel’s sunscreen and, this season, nothing has changed. Of course, it’s one for the material girls, the boujee beauty buffs and anyone who loves life’s little luxuries, rather than an everyday essential. But if that sounds like you, be sure to snap up this sunscreen. Not only does it look incredibly chic, with both the Chanel logo on the front and interlocking C’s on the lid, its formula and function are equally as impressive. Blue ginger and Tahitian gardenia extract are the two standout ingredients, strengthening the skin barrier while a whole host of others help hydrate, illuminate and protect from both UVB and UVA rays.

  1. £50 from Chanel.com
Prices may vary
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Glossier invisible shield

best sunscreen face mineral facial spf tint non greasy sensitive skin
  • Best: For people who hate sunscreen
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 30ml
  • Type: Water-like gel
  • Mineral or chemical : Chemical
  • Key ingredients : Fermented yeast and sweet orange peel oil
  • Why we love it
    • Lightweight formula
    • Absorbs quickly

Dubbed as the “sunscreen for people who hate sunscreen”, this Glossier find really is a favourite for anti-sunscreen fiends. In an incredibly lightweight water-like gel, it instantly sinks into the skin with no signs or feeling of residue. In fact, it was our tester’s favourite go-to for when they had to get out of the door in a hurry, as it feels like you’ve got nothing on your face at all.

Sweet orange peel oil gives it a subtle fresh scent while a cocktail of potent antioxidants helps to keep skin fighting fit. And, to add even more goodness, fermented yeast helps to protect the skin barrier from both UVA and UVB rays as well as external aggravators. It is sold out on Glossier’s site at the moment, but you can sign up with your email to be notified when it’s available to buy again.

  1. £25 from Glossier.com
Prices may vary
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Omorovicza mineral UV shield SPF30

best sunscreen face mineral facial spf tint non greasy sensitive skin
  • Best: Luxury mineral sunscreen
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 100ml
  • Type: Lotion
  • Mineral or chemical: Mineral
  • Key ingredients: Vitamin C and zinc oxide
  • Why we love it
    • Impressive ingredients list
  • Take note
    • Expensive

With an ingredients list that reads more like a face serum, this sunscreen is sure to impress any skincare fanatic. But while the price puts it at the luxury end of the spectrum, let’s remember it is twice the size of almost all of our other options, making it seem much less ludicrous.

Classified as a mineral sunscreen, key ingredients used to protect against the rays include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, as well as vitamin C to help heal and brighten. Also included is Omorovicza’s patented healing concentrate, which works to reduce signs of fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots, giving it even more added benefits. It is a little bit heavier than some of our other options, so our tester ended up using it in place of their morning moisturiser and hasn’t yet looked back.

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Bioré UV aqua water essence sunscreen

Bioré UV aqua water essence sunscreen .png
  • Best: For acne-prone skin
  • SPF: 50
  • Size: 50ml
  • Type: Lotion
  • Mineral or chemical: Chemical
  • Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, glycerin
  • Why we love it
    • For acne-prone skin
    • Hydrating

For anyone who hates the feel of sunscreen or finds it aggravates acne, Bioré may be your best bet. Incredibly lightweight, this lotion is named aqua rich to highlight its water-like feel. It instantly absorbs into the skin, delivering a hit of hydration with no sticky or greasy feel, meaning it won’t clog pores. It even has a citrusy scent that our tester truly loved. Hyaluronic acid and glycerin help to make it super hydrating, and it’s even suitable for sensitive skin. Our tester found it works well under make-up, and they wasted next to no time waiting for it to dry before they could apply concealer or foundation. Really, we couldn’t ask for much more.

  1. £15 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Tan-Luxe super glow SPF30 hyaluronic self-tan serum

best sunscreen face mineral facial spf tint non greasy sensitive skin
  • Best: Self-tan sunscreen
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 30ml
  • Type: Serum
  • Mineral or chemical : Chemical
  • Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, cocoa seed extract, coconut oil and avocado oil
  • Why we love it
    • Two-in-one fake tan and SPF
    • Impressive ingredients list

Combining two of our favourite products in one, this self-tan SPF truly is a standout beauty buy. While it isn’t the best face self-tanner we’ve tried – it is incredibly subtle – it does away with having to apply two separate products and can be used every day. Putting six drops directly onto a clean face seemed to be the perfect amount, giving us a faux golden glow while protecting us from the harmful sun rays.

A whole host of skin-loving ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, cocoa seed extract, coconut oil and avocado oil have also been added to deeply hydrate and nourish the face, so we actually said goodbye to our regular serums too. Incredibly easy to apply, it’s our go-to for the winter months to help keep our glow year-round.

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La Roche-Posay anthelios anti-shine sun protection invisible SPF50+

best sunscreen face mineral facial spf tint non greasy sensitive skin
  • Best: Sunscreen for swimming
  • SPF: 50+
  • Size: 75ml
  • Type: Spray
  • Mineral or chemical : Chemical
  • Key ingredients : Thermal spring water and glycerin
  • Why we love it
    • Controls oil
    • Easy to apply

Similarl to the La Roche-Posay anthelios UVmune 400 oil control fluid (£20, Boots.com), this sunscreen seriously impressed. In fact, this could have been named the best for any number of things, from best SPF spray to best over make-up, but being water-resistant and so easy to apply, we settled on it being best for swimming.

In a very fine mist, it instantly coats the face with an SPF50 coverage, so keeping sun damage at bay really couldn’t be easier. Our tester loved its compact size and ease of application, so best believe this one will be in our beach bags, swim bags and handbags for regular fuss-free top-ups.

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Aēsop protective facial lotion SPF25

best sunscreen face mineral facial spf tint non greasy sensitive skin
  • Best: SPF for dry skin
  • SPF: 25
  • Size: 50ml
  • Type: Lotion
  • Mineral or chemical : Chemical
  • Key ingredients : Green tea and panthenol
  • Why we love it
    • Impressive ingredients list
  • Take note
    • Low SPF

We’ve already stressed why a high SPF is incredibly important, but for those who still prefer a lower number on their label, Aēsop is your answer. With a rich botanical scent, this fresh-smelling sunscreen is like a spa treatment in a bottle. A cocktail of skin-loving ingredients, including green tea, panthenol and tocopherol gives it many more benefits aside from just sun protection, including boosting moisture levels and brightening the face.

In a thicker, creamier formula than some of our other options, it feels more like a rich face cream, which our tester loved when their skin was dry, using it in place of their morning moisturiser. Of course, if you’re out in the sunshine, a high SPF is preferable, but for pottering from home to the office and back again, it’s certainly better than nothing at all.

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Sun Bum original glow SPF 30

Sun Bum original glow SPF30.png
  • Best: Brightening sunscreen
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 59ml
  • Type: Lotion
  • Mineral or chemical: Chemical
  • Key ingredients: Kakadu plum
  • Why we love it
    • Impressive ingredients list
  • Take note
    • Fair tint

This Sun Bum sunscreen is surprisingly tinted, although the light beige shade becomes almost immediately invisible once rubbed in. Although, whether this will work on darker skin tones, our tester is yet to find out. With a thin nozzle, it’s incredibly easy to apply and the lotion delivers a non-greasy, non-shiny hit of hydration. Kakadu plum is one of the core ingredients, which is high in vitamin C, so your skin will be illuminated from the inside while enhancing the SPF 30.

  1. £19 from Boots.com
Prices may vary
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Ultra Violette clean screen sensitive skinscreen SPF30

best spf for your face
  • Best: For sensitive skin
  • SPF : 30
  • Size: 50ml
  • Type: Lotion
  • Mineral or chemical: Mineral
  • Key ingredients : Titanium dioxide and pentavitin
  • Why we love it
    • For sensitive skin
    • Non-greasy

Sensitive-skinned folk can sometimes really struggle with sunscreen, and the last thing you need when trying to stop your skin from burning from the sun is a burning feeling from a formula. With clean screen, the clue is in the name, as Ultra Violette has created a formula free of many irritants, so your skin can stay protected, hydrated and happy. With no added fragrances or alcohol, it uses titanium dioxide as a mineral SPF and plant-derived pentavitin for a hit of hydration. Suitable for anyone with acne-prone, sensitive or even combination skin, we loved how it instantly absorbed into skin, with no greasy residue, and it even worked well under make-up.

  1. £32 from Spacenk.com
Prices may vary
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Sunscreens for your face FAQs

Why do you need separate sunscreens for body and face?

Just as you wouldn’t use the same skincare product for your face and body, it’s best to use sunscreens that are specially formulated for your face.

Unlike your body, facial skin is exposed to environmental factors, meaning it’s also where some of your most delicate bits of skin are found – for example, the area under your eyes. Facial sunscreens are formulated to the same standards as skincare products and are designed to be comfortable to wear on your face, as well as being more lightweight and easily absorbed than sunscreens for your body. They also aren’t perfumed, and you can invest in different formulations depending on your skin type; dry, oily or combination.

Should you apply facial SPF daily?

While it’s essential to apply facial SPF when it’s sunny, it’s also recommended to apply some sun protection daily, whether that’s a dedicated sunscreen product or a moisturiser or foundation with SPF. UVA rays can still penetrate despite clouds or even window glass, so it’s best to help protect your skin against any possible rays.

Does sunscreen prevent tanning?

Wearing SPF doesn’t prevent tanning, as formulas aren’t able to protect your skin entirely from UVA. Factor 50 will protect you from 98 per cent of rays, while factor 30 shields you from 97 per cent of rays. This means it is still possible to get a tan, while helping to protect your skin from sunburn.

Does sunscreen expire?

Sunscreen has a shelf-life of between two and three years, with most formulas remaining at their original strength for at least three years. However, once opened, sunscreen generally starts to lose its SPF efficacy after 6-12 months – make sure to read the label for clear guidance. So, although you can use leftover sunscreens the following year, it’s best to purchase a new one. Unopened sunscreen will also have an expiration date, telling you when it’s no longer effective.

The verdict: Sunscreen for your face

Finding the right sunscreen really comes down to personal preference. In fact, you most likely need more than one depending on where you’re applying and what time of year it is to ensure you have something for every occasion. But, of course, we had to pick just one, and the La Roche-Posay just nicked the top spot thanks to its broad spectrum and easy-to-apply design.

For first thing in the morning, we truly loved Medik8 and Glossier for the instant hit of hydration. The Tan-Luxe self-tan serum wowed as a multi-faced find, and Hello Sunday and La Roche-Posay made on-the-go top-ups incredibly easy.

Keep your pout protected from the sun with our best SPF lip balms that are hydrating and non-sticky

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