Because SPF is a must, seven days a week, 365 days per year
Protecting your skin from the sun is important at the best of times, but as we head into spring it’s even more vital. Using the best SPF moisturiser on a daily basis is such an important step in your skincare routine.
As well as the well-known risks of skin cancer, the sun is also one of the biggest contributing factors to skin ageing. Why? Because the sun damages your skin and causes inflammation – and we’re not just talking about sunburn. As Paula Begoun, founder of cult skincare brand Paula’s Choice explains: ‘Inflammation destroys the structure of our skin.’
So, if we want healthy and youthful-looking skin, then we really must protect it from the sun. Every. Single. Day. (Yes, even in winter. Yes, even while working from home.)
Incorporating a decent daily sun protection regimen can be tricky, but by adding this essential SPF to one of the best moisturisers you’ll be protecting your skin every day, without having to worry too much about it.
SPF moisturiser vs facial sunscreen: what’s the difference?
First things first, let’s address a common confusion: the difference between SPF moisturisers and a separate facial sunscreen.
In short, an SPF moisturiser is great for a very basic level of defence against sun-related damage. Protecting against the sun isn’t its only function, as it’s also doing the job of moisturising, too. Think soothing dryness, fighting discolouration, in the same vein as a brilliant hyperpigmentation treatment, and diffusing the appearance of wrinkles. If you’re feeling a little lazy, travelling and trying to keep products to a minimum or just one of those people who fails to remember to apply your SPF, then these are a good option.
A facial sunscreen, on the other hand, only has one job: protect the skin on your face from the sun’s rays.
SPF moisturisers are ideal for the autumn and winter months when the sun isn’t as strong. You should wear an SPF every day, even if it’s cloudy and overcast, as UVA rays can still permeate cloudy skies and windows. So, good luck coming up with excuses as to why you’re skipping it.
Come the summer (and of course any holidays to sunnier climes outside of that time), an SPF moisturiser isn’t enough protection and you will need to double up. This is when you need to get your hands on the best facial sunscreens. You’ll also need to wear one of the best sun creams on top of your SPF moisturiser if you are sunbathing or outside for prolonged periods of time.
‘Many people believe that having an SPF in their moisturiser will suffice,’ says consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Kluk. ‘But, according to the British Association of Dermatologists, moisturiser with an SPF will only help protect you against small amounts of UV exposure – for example, when you walk to the car.’
What these moisturisers won’t do is provide the same degree of sun protection as the best facial sunscreens, especially for longer periods of UV exposure. It’s true that SPF in a moisturiser is tested the same way as SPF in sunscreen – so technically speaking, an SPF 30 moisturiser formula will offer the same level of protection as a facial sun cream with an SPF of 30. However, it all comes down to the application.
‘To achieve the SPF on the label, you would have to apply at least half a teaspoon to the face, which people rarely do,’ says Kluk. Think about the way that you apply your usual moisturiser; you don’t slather on a thick layer that thoroughly covers your face and neck in the same way you would do sun cream before heading to the beach.
‘What’s more, SPF moisturisers are less likely to be rub-resistant and water-resistant. For these reasons, they won’t offer the same level of protection as the best sun creams,’ the doctor adds.
It’s also worth noting that moisturisers containing an SPF don’t always contain protection against UVA rays, either. ‘As a result, they will not protect against UV ageing in the same way as a broad-spectrum sunscreen would,’ stresses Kluk.
Another essential suncare step is reapplication. So once you have applied either you moisturiser with an SPF or a facial sunscreen, the British Skin Foundation recommends that you top up every two- hours. That’s tricky if you’ve got a full face of make-up, which is where the best spf to apply over make-up comes in.
However, having an SPF in your daily moisturiser is never a bad idea. Because on those days when you’re working from home or it’s cloudy out, that added bit of daily defence is needed.
Here’s our pick of some of the best SPF moisturisers…
Best affordable moisturiser: We previously featured the SPF 30 version of this, as it was the highest factor it went. But now, the skincare gods answered our prayers and gave us SPF50. The stronger your skin’s barrier, the less sun damage you’re likely to accrue. So this moisturiser is a must-have on account of its ceramides, hyaluronic acid, SPF and purse-friendly price point. This is hands down one of the best moisturisers, with or without an SPF.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: Its affordable price tag and the fact that dermatologists around the world love this brand.
Best for ageing skin:
Antioxidant-rich ginkgo biloba and algae are still the prized firming ingredients in this matte-textured cream. But it’s the addition of an SPF30 to the formula that is making our skin sing.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: A brand best seller with the added bonus of SPF? Yes please.
Best for sensitive skin:
Avène is the brand you go to if your skin is having a 'moment'. They are incredibly well-versed in sensitive skin. So much so, that they recently launched their range specifically for rosacea-sufferers. This everyday SPF moisturiser is slightly green-tinted to counteract redness and super simple and gentle so as not to further irritate the skin. It's completely brilliant.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: Its redness-busting abilities.
Best for lightweight moisture:
It still includes everything we love about the original Magic Cream – which was like a blanket for dry skin – but with a host of welcome extras. This all-new lightweight formula is not only the answer to hydrating oily skin but is supercharged with wrinkle-smoothing peptides, SPF20 and pollution defence technology.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: A super duper hydrating buy.
Best for dry skin:
There's a high chance that you've seen this SPF moisturiser on your Instagram feed. Caroline Hirons is a huge fan, she says, 'The lightweight formula sinks into the skin. With no pilling and no white cast it’s a great choice.' If you won't take her word for it, how about the fact that there are three different versions depending on your needs - hydrating, mattifying and sensitive.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: It's a cool AND genius skincare brand from Australia – where they take SPF seriously.
Best for dull skin:
Its antioxidants are a bonus and its energising ingredients (including carnitine) are like an espresso shot for weary skin. But it’s the not-insignificant promise of being sweat and humidity resistant that grabbed our attention. In short, it ensures the sunscreen actives stand a better chance of actually getting to work.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: All those skin-loving antioxidants.
Everyone's favourite moisturiser, but with the added bonus of an SPF. Huzzah! Squalene restores natural moisture while the lack of scent appeals to both sexes and all skin types. To put it simply, this is a bloody good moisturiser that just got better.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: Everybody loves this moisturiser, and so the SPF is an extra bonus.
Best for radiant skin:
Who said moisturiser had to be thick and gloopy? Here the whipped texture transforms from a cream to liquid as soon as it hits your skin, ensuring the anti-ageing ingredients instantly absorb while the SPF doesn’t leave behind any telltale chalkiness.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: Both lightweight and radiance-boosting.
Best hydrating buy:
Dry-skinned friends, say hello to this little beauty. It's described as a serum, but we recommend applying your existing serum first then layering this on top. Even though it's a gel, it's richer than you'd imagine, so we don't think it needs a moisturiser on top - this should do the job.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: Who knew that SPF formulas could be so hydrating and non-greasy?
Best for mature skin:
Elizabeth Arden's Prevage range is almost as iconic as its Eight-Hour line. All Prevage products are made with its antioxidant technology, which makes this SPF moisturiser an absolute must. It's the perfect choice if you are concerned with signs of ageing and like a rich formula.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: This is a cult range for a reason.
Best for anti-ageing:
If you were concerned that using an SPF moisturiser would mean forgoing your anti-ageing plan of attack, then think again. This rich cream that sinks in really quickly, works at improving your skin's elasticity and reducing the appearance of dark spots and wrinkles. All the while protecting you from the sun.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: A big French pharmacy name that derms everywhere love.
We've been so intrigued by this SPF brand from the moment it landed on our desks. And apparently we aren't alone as Cult Beauty is struggling to keep its SPFs in stock. This everyday moisturiser protects from UVA, UVB and blue light. They also do an SPF serum, primer, body cream and lip balm. All bases covered.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: We love it when a newbie knocks it out of the park.
Best tinted SPF moisturiser:
We recently spoke with a dermatologist, who told us that if you suffer from pigmentation then a tinted SPF is best. That's because they are made using iron oxide, meaning they physically block out light. Add in the colour and you get even more protection. We like this new one from Liz Earle, but if you're particularly sensitive to the sun you might want to opt for one with a higher SPF.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: You can't go wrong with a bit of Liz Earle.
Best high-end buy:
All hail Sarah Chapman. Formulated with Light Diffusing LipoLight® and antioxidant Buddleja Davidii plant, the treatment protects against UVA, UVB, thermal and infrared radiation. Not only that, but smart light scattering powders and optical blurring technology help to give a brighter, glowing complexion. It's worth noting that this product is best applied after your regular morning moisturiser.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: Sarah Chapman is a mastermind, which is why she is so many celebrities' go-to.