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Best facial sunscreen 2021: The best sunblock and sun cream to protect your face outdoors

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Looking for the best facial sunscreen? We'll tell you how to pick the right one for your face type, with options starting from just £10

Whenever you step out, there's always that niggling feeling that your face isn't well protected. Even if you're wearing a hat and sunglasses, you're still exposed to harmful sun rays that have been proven to damage and age your skin, particularly your face.

This is where our handy list of the best sunscreens come to the rescue. While there are tons of products you can buy, we've narrowed down the list to our top five to help you hydrate and protect your face when you're out and about in the sun.

It may sound like a lot to ask, but our list of the best facial sunscreens will prove this pipedream is achievable. Read on to find out which ones you should be investing in this summer.

READ NEXT: Best sun cream

How to choose the best sunscreen for your face

What are the key things to look for in a sunscreen?

Look for the words ‘broad spectrum’ on the packaging and/or both the terms ‘UVA’ and ‘UVB’ – this means you will be protected from all the sun’s rays as long as you keep applying it every two hours. Some controversial formulas only cover UVA or UVB but you need a product that targets both; UVA rays cause ageing and UVB rays cause your skin to burn so if you only have protection from one then your skin will become damaged from the other.

Antioxidants like vitamin E will help fend off any environmental hazards threatening to pollute the skin, or you can try one with liquorice extract to help soothe the skin. Finally, try not to go lower than SPF 30 and a star-rating of four our of five as recommended by the British Association of Dermatologists, even if you have dark skin.

Which formula offers the best protection?

There are many different textures of sunscreen, but much of the decision comes down to personal choice. As long as they give the right protection and you cover every inch of your face, one formulation doesn’t work better than the other.

Having said that, you may want to steer clear of spray bottles – unless they have been created specifically for the face – as the spray can accidentally get in your eyes. Fluids or creams for the face are equally effective as long as they provide satisfactory hydration and zero irritation. Try to apply them indoors as doing so in the sunlight can cause the product to evaporate before it’s had a chance to sink into the skin, undoing all your good work.

How much should I spend?

Facial suncare is vitally important, so you shouldn’t scrimp on costs. That said, you can find a more-than-suitable facial sunscreen for less than £40, so we wouldn’t recommend spending anything over that unless there’s a high-end brand your skin gets on with.

If you can’t afford both a good daily SPF moisturiser and a sunscreen, choose the sunscreen as this will have more SPF-focused technology. There’s nothing more important than staying safe in the sun, so keep this in mind when purchasing.

READ NEXT: The best facial serums to buy

The best facial sunscreen to buy

1. La Roche Posay Anthelios Pocket SPF 50+: The best facial sunscreen for sensitive skin

Price: £13.50 (50ml) | Buy now from Feelunique

Bulky, leaky bottles are just a no-no when you’re out and about and, let’s face it, they make your bag ten times heavier than necessary. This travel-sized bottle is the perfect weight and size for applying on-the-go – it literally fits into your pocket – and the formula isn’t bad either.

La Roche Posay is a highly respected, dermatologist-approved skincare brand that gets on well with all skin types, so it’s the best buy for those who are prone to irritation. The lightweight fluid makes it easy to apply and it absorbs beautifully into the skin. SPF 50+ covers all bases – you’d be very unlucky if any harmful rays broke their way through that – just make sure you cover every inch of your face. This one’s even gentle enough to apply on the eyelids.

Buy now from Feelunique


2. Clarins Mineral Sun Care Fluid Face SPF 30: The best anti-ageing facial sunscreen

Price: £20 (30ml) | Buy now from Feelunique

You and your skin will absolutely love this cream. Say goodbye to that tacky, greasy sun cream feeling - this is the closest you’ll get to feeling like you’re just wearing your normal daily moisturiser. Plus it leaves a lovely, non-sticky glow in its wake. Some people only use facial sunscreen during their holiday, meaning that they don’t apply it long enough to experience the skincare benefits of the product, but keep using this one!

Made from plant-based extracts - including aloe vera, senna and baobab - it's rich in antioxidants and offers broad spectrum protection as well as fighting the signs of photo-ageing. It glides onto your skin and absorbs quickly, ith zero irritation and without being too dry. The sweet smell of holidays is just an added bonus.

Image of Clarins FLUIDE SOLAIRE MINÉRAL SPF30

Clarins FLUIDE SOLAIRE MINÉRAL SPF30

£20.00 (£66.67 / 100 ml) Buy now

Buy now from Feelunique


3. Alpha-H Daily Moisturiser SPF 50+ 50ml: Best facial sun cream that can be used as a daily moisturiser

Price: £30 (50ml) | Buy now from Amazon

This lightweight cream comes in a nifty pump dispenser and doubles up as both an excellent moisturiser and a high-coverage SPF 50+ facial sun cream. It's good for all skin types and offers a healthy dose of hydration without a greasy feel.

With vitamin E, aloe vera and honeycomb extract, it has antioxidant properties and leaves a matte finish, so it also works well under make-up. Slap this on daily for an efficient dose of both moisture and protection.


4. Institut Esthederm Adaptasun Sensitive (3*): The best facial sunscreen that boosts your tan while protecting

Price: £39 (50ml) | Buy now from Amazon

As well as helping to protect your skin from UVA and UVB, Adaptasun also contains tan-boosting agents that help your tanning along a little. It's not a fake tan, but it helps to activate your skin's natural pigmentation process for a naturally enhanced glow.

You won't find an SPF rating on the bottle, because Institut Esthederm uses a star rating (actually, sun rating) system instead, to represent different levels of the sun's intensity. But given that the sun's UV rays can be very strong wherever in the world you are, we'd recommend going for the 3-sun rating unless your facial skin is well adapted to sun exposure.

This cream is thick and deeply moisturising, but it doesn't feel too heavy on the delicate skin of your face, so it's a good choice for dry or combination skin.


5. Garnier Ambre Solaire Sensitive Advanced Hydrating Face Sun Cream Mist SPF 50: The best spray facial sunscreen

Price: £6 (75ml) | Buy now from Asda

Introducing an SPF face mist that doesn’t sting or irritate the eyes; avoids greasy or tacky skin; and costs less than £20. Apart from the fact that the beautiful smell evokes the tropics, we love that it covers the face quickly and evenly; and is quick to absorb too. Okay so the contents of spray bottles don’t necessarily last as long as creams or fluids – mainly because it’s easy for the user to get ‘spray happy’ and use too much – but when it comes to SPF how much is too much, exactly?

The best thing about this little can is that you can apply your usual SPF foundation in the morning then keep reapplying this mist over it to stay on top of your facial protection throughout the day. You don’t need to rub it in – keeping any makeup unaffected – just mist it evenly over your face and go. A great little spritz for small handbags, plus it keeps you cool, too.

Buy now from Asda


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