These sun creams will see you through the summer (and beyond)

Long gone are the days where we baked out in the sun for hours on end with no protection whatsoever (or worse, tanning oil). In fact, sun creams have become the most important skincare product in any comprehensive morning regime (no matter the time of year), as well as a staple item on every summer checklist. Not only will the right formula prevent burning and skin damage from the sun’s rays, but the best suncreams will also help to prevent signs of premature ageing, including wrinkles, dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

Whereas old formulations used to be sticky, chalky lotions that would clog pores – leaving a heavy chalky residue on the skin – modern day suncreams have come a long way catering to all skin types – from dry skin to acne-prone skin. Which is important, because if you like it, you might actually wear it.

We called upon the dermatology experts to share their definitive tips to selecting the right, non-greasy suncream for your specific skin type and concern, so you can stay protected from sunburn this spring and beyond.

Sensitive skin

“For individuals with sensitive, eczema or psoriasis-prone skin, extra care may need to be taken when choosing your sun protection to not aggravate the skin. Whilst in many cases the sun can improve eczema symptoms, in other cases sun exposure can cause the condition to become worse.

“When choosing sun protection always look at the ingredients list and try to avoid those which you know can irritate your skin,” says Lloyds Pharmacy pharmacist, Anshu Kaura. “Opting for fragrance-free protection alongside looking for creams specifically designed for sensitive skin may also help. If you’re looking to try something new, Solero Ultra-Sensitive Sun Lotion 200ml (available in SPF 30 and 50, £7, LloydsPharmacy) is dermatologically-tested and helps protect sensitive skin, prone to flare-ups and allergies.

“The sun can make your skin feel very dry, therefore make sure you keep your skin well hydrated and moisturised everyday. Don’t neglect regular emollient application both pre and post sun exposure to help rehydrate and soothe the skin.”

Allergy-prone skin

Many people experience heat rash, or more commonly known as ‘prickly heat’ after a spell in the sun. As well as keeping cool, wearing loose fitting clothing and staying hydrated, you may want to think carefully about which sun cream you try.

“A fragrance free, hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic formula allows the skin to breathe and to be risk free in terms of known irritants,” explains Abi Cleeve, sun care expert and founder of Skin Sense and Ultra Sun. “Many sun sensitivities and allergies are caused where sun cream blocks the pores and the skin is not able to breathe. Mineral oils and silicones can also contribute to blocking of the pores. The Ultrasun Face SPF30 & Family SPF30 for the body are both recommended by dermatologists as they are non-comedogenic with vitamin E and, Squalane and GSP-T (Grape Seed Extract) for additional moisture.”

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Best for dark skin

“It’s a myth that black skin doesn’t need sunscreen. Black skin may be ahead of the game with a natural SPF of about 13, but that is not enough protection,” says Abi. “A broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF30 and above is essential.”

“Black skin can still suffer burns from being unprotected in the sun, which is an indicator that damage including cell mutation is happening further down in the dermal layers. In addition, UV rays are chief instigators when it comes to uneven skin tone and hyper-pigmentation as it sends the melanin producing cells – the melanocytes – into a production overdrive which causes patchy, uneven blemished skin tone.”

A UVA filter, preferably of over 90 per cent, and SPF (to protect against UVB) of at least 30 is equally crucial for darker skin tones, both for the prevention of skin cancer and as part of preventing skin damage as part of a regular skin care routine.”

Fair skin

“If you have fair skin you may be more susceptible to both surface damage (burning) and longer-term sun damage,” warns Anshu. “If you have freckles or moles you should take extra care in the sun. The sun can damage individuals with fair skin with as little as 5 – 10 minutes exposure. However, even for the darkest skin tones, just an hour of sun exposure can start to cause damage to the skin.

“Whether you are spending long periods of time outside during summer or are incidentally exposed to the sun whilst out and about, those with fair skin should always be applying high-factor sun protection (SPF 30+). You should also remember to reapply suncream after swimming (even if the cream is water resistant) seek shade between the hours of 12:00 and 15:00 and cover-up sensitive areas of skin such as the shoulders.

“For sensitive areas of skin such as the lips, you can try a lip protection stick, which provides moisturising UVA & UVA protection.

Oily skin

If you have oily skin, the summer heat can exasperate this. The heat can encourage greater sebum production which is one of the leading causes of oily skin,” says Anshu. “Application of the wrong sun cream on top of your daily moisturiser may leave your skin feeling greasy or sometimes cause breakouts on the face.

“However, you mustn’t forgo the sun protection, even if you are concerned about applying a number of creams to your skin. Many moisturisers contain SPF, however they are often a lot thinner than specially formulated sun creams and may not contain protection against both UV-A & UV-B rays.

“Instead of doubling up your moisturiser, you could use a sun cream with moisturising properties in place of your daily moisturiser.”

Whether you prefer a spray, gel, cream or oil – we’ve tried and tested (almost) a whole bunch of nourishing suncreams of varying sun protection factors to bring you the best UV defence you can get.

Once you’re done scrolling, check out our list of the best face sun creams, the best SPF makeup and what SPF means.

Scroll for our full pick of the best suncreams to add to your checkout.