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We tried Chanel’s £90 sunscreen in sunny Mexico to put it to the test

With hundreds of more affordable options on the market, only true ‘material girls’ will justify the splurge

Lauren Cunningham
Friday 06 May 2022 16:55
<p>We took this sunscreen across the globe to really put it through its paces</p>

We took this sunscreen across the globe to really put it through its paces

Known for stellar runway shows, boyfriend bags and famous fans, Chanel has been paving the way for female fashion for over a century now – transforming jersey from a men’s underwear material to women’s sportswear, popularising trousers for women and even full suits too.

But, while many focus on couture clothing from the luxury fashion house, Chanel has actually been selling make-up since 1924 and skincare since 1927, meaning its beauty counters have been going longer than huge companies like Estée Lauder, Mac, and even Revlon. So it’s safe to say Chanel knows just as much about faces as it does fashion.

Today, with bags costing thousands of pounds, the controversial advent calendar a cool £610, and the clothing being little more than a dream for most of us, the beauty counters are often the first port of call for a more affordable gateway into the brand. Its nail polishes retail for around £25, lipsticks for around £35, and the CC cream is around £50, which we’ve already reviewed here at IndyBest.

But, £90 is a lot for sunscreen, even by luxury beauty standards. La Mer for example, one of the most expensive beauty brands in the world, even falls short with an £85 price tag on its UV protecting fluid (£85, Cultbeauty.com). Dior’s ultimate UV shield is half the price (£45, Dior.com), and the Omorovicza mineral UV shield is £78 (Feelunique.com).

So, we put this newly launched pricey SPF to the test to see just how much it lived up to its hefty price tag.

Read more:

How we tested

We really wanted to put this sunscreen through its paces, and the English spring sun just wasn’t going to cut it. So, our tester packed this sunscreen in her bag (hand luggage, for fear of losing it) and jetted off to Mexico for some 30-degree heat.

We looked at how easy it was to apply both on its own and with make-up, how many times it had to be reapplied, how it looked, felt and ultimately how well it shielded our tester’s face from the sun.

Chanel sublimage LA protection UV SPF 50

Buy now £90, Chanel.com

Rating: 8.5/10

This sunscreen is the new addition to the sublimage skincare collection which centres around the core ingredient vanilla planifolia – a species of vanilla orchid native to Mexico and Belize that’s responsible for most vanilla flavourings. But, this plant extract does much more than make cakes taste nice.

When used on the skin, it’s gentle on even the most sensitive of faces, soothing burns and even acne. We found this to be true after developing a rash from harsh bug sprays across our face, topped off with a couple of mosquito bites after stopping to use said bug spray, which was then (luckily) soothed by the sunscreen.

The formula

The main sell here is the high concentration of antioxidants which work to neutralise free radicals, UV rays and pollutants, as well as reduce fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. Again, we found truth in these claims, as the fine lines around our eyes and mouth seemed to have faded after around only ten days of use.

Two other core ingredients, a botanical oligopeptide and liquorice root extract, also aid all of the above while increasing hydration, fighting inflammation, preventing sun damage and evening out skin tone too.

But, while all of these added benefits are amazing, of course, the most important aspect of an SPF is how well it shields our skin from the sun.

Chanel’s offering has a sun protection factor of 50, meaning it takes 50 times longer for skin to redden when using this cream rather than using nothing at all. And when it comes to protecting your face, we’d recommend nothing less than factor 50, especially on fair skin.

While the SPF number relates to UVB rays, it has a specific shield against UVA rays too, something that not all sunscreens have. These rays can penetrate through clouds and windows and reach the deeper layers of the skin – which can lead to premature ageing and skin cancer – so this is a really important addition for safe sun exposure.

The application

At 30ml, this sunscreen is small enough to pop into your bag, hand luggage or even a pocket if out on a walk. And being a simple screw cap with a soft squeeze plastic tube, it’s easy to apply on the go within seconds – just be careful not to squeeze too hard or you’ll have to offer some of your precious sunscreen to the (very willing) person next to you.

This is more than just a sunscreen but a day cream, sun protection hybrid thanks to a handful of hard-working ingredients. So although Chanel does recommend using it as a final step in your skincare routine, we’d argue that you can probably forgo most of your prior skincare steps and just use this after your cleanse for a quick out the door routine, especially when on holiday.

It doesn’t have that typical sunscreen smell but gives a slight whiff of vanilla thanks to the hero ingredient, and feels more like a luxurious moisturiser than some other sun protection products we’ve tried before.

It absorbs extremely quickly into the skin with no chalky white finish or greasy texture, but if you do wish to moisturise before, just make sure you let each product dry fully before adding the next one lest you be left with a shiny buildup.

Read more: 12 best sunscreens for sensitive skin to protect you from the rays

And the same goes for make-up. As long as it is fully dry, usually after a minute or two, make-up goes on effortlessly. But, if applying over a full face of foundation, contour and highlighter, expect some movement to occur as it would with any cream rubbed on top. We’d recommend using a spray-on SPF over make-up and noted the best ones in our face sunscreen round-up.

As with any sunscreen, reapplication is key. Remember SPF 50 means it will take 50 times longer for your skin to turn red with this on than without it, so if your skin takes around three minutes to become pink in the sun, then you’ll want to be reapplying every two and a half hours at least. And of course, it must be reapplied after swimming or showering too.

The verdict:  Chanel sublimage LA protection UV SPF 50

For some, the thought of spending nearly £100 on sunscreen will make their eyes pop out of their head and that’s a hugely valid reaction. After all, unlike a precious perfume you can save for special occasions, this is a product that needs to be used every day – multiple times a day even – and there are hundreds of other more affordable options on the market that offer the same level of sun protection.

But, for any “material girls” as TikTok calls them, owning a little bit of Chanel does make you feel special in a way we can’t quite describe. Applying this felt like a luxury, which is quite a feat coming from a sunscreen.

And, unlike a blush stick, foundation or nail varnish, if you’re hoping to show off your little piece of the brand, a sunscreen is probably the next best thing after a lipstick, given the number of times you need to re-apply it. But, it’s fair to say this sunscreen wasn’t thrown into the communal beach bag along with the Piz Buin and Ambre Solaire.

Yes, it’s expensive, there’s no way around that, but what else can we expect from Chanel? The brand is built on opulence, and its sunscreen is going to be no different, especially one that doubles up as a face cream.

So, if you’re a luxury lover who is equally into their skincare and can happily afford this sunscreen, then we have no doubt that you’ll be as happy with it as our tester was as we really couldn’t fault it. But, if you can’t quite justify the price tag then there are some other great options from Glow Recipe, La Roche Posay and many more too.

Voucher codes

For discounts on sunscreens and other skincare products, try the links below:

Prefer to stay out of the sun? You can still get that golden sun-kissed glow with the best fake tans

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