Does the concept of protecting your skin from the ultraviolet rays, or sunscreen in general, leave you a little confused and possibly a bit underwhelmed? Travelling and our outdoor lifestyle mean I spend a huge amount of time out in the elements, I have pale skin and I have no wish to look older than I am. We also live in Australia, a country with one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Those are four great reasons to become an expert in SPF and sun protection.
Over the years I’ve tried dozens of different products, a couple has made my holy grail list but most quickly found a spot at the back of the bathroom cabinet that awaits my next decluttering binge. Some of my favourites have become increasingly hard to get my hands on recently in the land down under and require a bit of savvy online shopping to pick them up at a fair price.
Another challenge is that there are so many new products hitting the shelves each year and so many old favourites too that it can be hard working out what to try. These are my 7 favourite items to save my skin from the health risks and aging effects of the sun and to avoid the discomfort of sunburn not just in the summer but all year round. You’ll always find a range of these in my travel bag, daily carry or stowed in the car for road trips.
1. Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence Face Sunscreen – SPF 50
Converting the description of this Japanese brand to English is a mouthful and does nothing to make it sound appealing. However, the Biore Aqua Rich Sunscreen is the best face sunscreen I have found and I’ve been using it consistently for over 8 years now.
Not only does it give top-notch protection to your skin against the sun it feels amazingly good on the skin.
You can apply a good coverage, it dries quickly and feels like there is nothing there while giving 50+ protection against both UVA and UVB rays. No stickiness, no white cast, no shine, no irritation and your makeup sits perfectly on top of it. The price is very reasonable too, I normally pay around A$18 and get fast and free delivery when I buy a couple of tubes.
The one thing I don’t like about it and wish they would change is the fragrance, I opt for fragrance-free where I can but to be honest, I use this daily and it has never caused irritation on my super sensitive, reaction-prone skin.
2. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Face Ultra Light sunscreen – SPF 50
If you want something you can pick up locally, this is another facial sunscreen that offers great protection at a reasonable price. This French brand is widely available in Australia through Priceline. It goes on easily for good coverage and protection with 50+ SPF.
It seems gentle on the skin and I never get any irritation or breakouts using this product. The finish isn’t quite as invisible as the Biore one but is still very nice to wear and sits well under makeup with no greasy feeling or shine.
3. La Roche-Posay Uvidea XL BB Cream – SPF 50
What’s better than a good coat of sun protection? Layering it! This is one of my favourite BB creams for a low make-up day. Not only does it give top sun protection, it’s light and comfortable to wear and it adds a little moisture to my face without making it oily.
I like it during summer because it stays put well in the humidity, there’s nothing worse than your makeup sliding off your face. The 01 light shade blends well on my skin tone giving a tiny bit of colour and minimising any discoloration or blemishes.
4. L’Oreal Paris Quick Dry Sheer Finish Spray – SPF 50
This one is great for all over body sun protection. It’s quick and easy to apply with a spray application and broad spectrum 50+ protection for the whole body.
It’s especially suited to the legs and arms as it’s not greasy or shiny when applied and makes your skin feel hydrated and soft. It dries quick so there’s no reason not to give yourself a spray before you head out the door.
5.Banana Boat Sport – SPF50
The Banana Boat Sport is a great everyday sunscreen and being waterproof it’s especially good when you are off to the beach or heading out to exercise.
I always have it in a variety of sizes, the pump in the bathroom, the tube in the beach bag and usually one stashed in the car or Drews’s golf bag too.
I like the light fragrance, it goes on easily, dries down to a natural skin finish very quickly and doesn’t have any greasy or sticky residue. It’s also very affordable so no excuses for not reapplying it regularly. It’s broad spectrum and gives you 4 hours water resistance. It also seems to resist sweating off while exercising.
6. Palmers Cocoa Butter Natural Bronze
This one has no SPF protection so don’t forget to layer up but it gives a gradual light tanning effect. Why I rate this as one of my top sun protection products is that it broke my long standing tanning bed habit. Social norms are changing slowly but I’m happier with a light ‘tan’ that makes me feel more confident and look healthier, especially on my arms and legs.
There so many other really good self tanners on the market now but I stick with this one because its also a great daily moisturizer, it builds gradually, and you don’t get transfer, orange tones or visible mistakes as I often do with a more intense single application tanning product.
7. A sunhat you love and are happy to wear anywhere
I’ve got a bit of a sunhat collection but I’ve also got a very small head and until recently was always frustrated trying to buy hats in Australia where they ignore hat sizing and insist one size fits all – yeah right! It appears neither my butt nor my head were designed to fit that one-size norm.
I did get a great tip a few years ago thought that has worked well. It came from an ex-dancer in New Zealand who let me into the industry secret of sticking foam on the inside of a hat to keep it in place while performing. I picked up a length of foam tape from Clark Rubber when I got back, stuck it to the inner band of my looser hats and it works perfectly.
While I do acknowledge the benefits of a big floppy hat for fuller protection I personally prefer a small brim because it stays on my head and doesn’t get in the way. I figure my sun protection is far better if I’m actually wearing a smaller brimmed hat than chasing a one down the beach in the wind or just leaving it off because it restricts my vision too much. I also have a number of caps that are super convenient and again much better than not wearing one at all, just remember to give your ears a really good coverage of the sunscreen.
I’d love to hear your tips and holy grail products for staying safe in the sun this summer. Please share your thoughts in the comments section or on social media using the buttons. I’d love to know what your top picks are.