To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Best SPF moisturiser 2023: Protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun

Guard your skin against sun damage while hydrating and nourishing it – these are the best SPF moisturisers to buy

Sun protection is a vital part of any skincare routine year-round, not only to prevent sunburn and the risk of skin cancer, but also to minimise the effects of ageing including fine lines and discolouration. Dermatologists recommend using an SPF (sun protection factor) cream daily, even on cloudy days and through the winter months. During the spring and summer months, a separate facial sunscreen offers the best sun protection; but in autumn and winter, a moisturising cream with SPF protection makes a lightweight and hydrating alternative.

SPF moisturisers combine the hydrating and nourishing benefits of a moisturiser with the sun protection benefits of a sunscreen. They’re perfect for regular use outside of the summer months, and typically sit well under makeup.

Below, we’ve broken down the benefits of a good SPF moisturiser; read on for our picks of the best SPF moisturisers for your skin type and budget.

Best SPF moisturisers: At a glance

How to choose the best SPF moisturiser for you

What’s the difference between SPF moisturisers and a separate facial sunscreen?

A sunscreen is designed with one purpose in mind: to block the sun’s harmful rays, decreasing your risk of sunburn, skin cancer and premature ageing. Sunscreens usually contain either a physical block (typically a mineral such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) or a chemical block (such as avobenzone) to reflect the sun’s UV radiation. A dedicated sunscreen will contain a higher concentration of sun-blocking ingredients, and should be used in the spring and summer in the UK, any time you’re on holiday in sunnier climes, or if you spend a lot of time outdoors.

An SPF moisturiser is primarily designed to hydrate and lock moisture into the skin. It also contains SPF ingredients, in a lower concentration than you’ll find in a dedicated sunscreen. An SPF moisturiser is a good option for those wanting to add sun protection into a regular facial skincare routine, and is suitable for use in the autumn and winter. Through the spring and summer months you’ll need a separate sunblock, either instead of or on top of your SPF moisturiser. Don’t forget to reapply your SPF cream or sunscreen regularly, especially in summer.

READ NEXT: The best moisturisers for men

What does sun protection factor (SPF) mean?

The SPF number tells you how many times longer it would take for your skin to redden and burn, compared to how long it would take without sunscreen; so an SPF of 30 means it would take 30 times longer for your skin to burn than it would without protection (if the SPF is used as directed, with regular reapplication).

A good sunscreen or SPF moisturiser protects against UVB rays, the short-wave rays that cause sunburn, and UVA rays that cause tanning and premature ageing. The SPF rating refers to protection from burning UVB rays; the PA star rating tells you how much protection the product offers from ageing UVA rays. Look for a higher star rating to ensure broad-spectrum protection.

Dermatologists recommend a minimum of SPF 15 when working indoors and on overcast days, and SPF 30 at all other times.

What else should I look for in an SPF moisturiser?

As well as good sun protection, your SPF moisturiser should meet the needs of your skin type. You’ll want a hydrating base of glycerin, mineral or vegetable oils; or ingredients such as hyaluronic acid that lock in moisture and help to keep the skin plump and smooth. You may also want to look for brightening antioxidants such as vitamin C; green tea or camomile extract to calm skin; vitamin E for its healing properties; or oil-free formulas containing AHAs or salicylic acid for oiler skins that are prone to spots.

Apply your SPF moisturiser in the morning after cleansing and toning, and after your serum if you use one. Your SPF cream’s moisturising benefits won’t stop in the evening, but the SPF protection will be of less use, so you may prefer to use a non-SPF moisturiser at night.

Read on for our favourite SPF moisturisers.

How we test SPF moisturisers

At Expert Reviews, we know that hands-on testing delivers the most complete information about a product. As such, we personally test all of the SPF moisturisers in the roundup below, following the directions on the packaging.

We first note both the UVA and UVB protection of the product, and use the cream as directed for one week. Where a cream is recommended for a particular skin type, we test on that skin type, and note the effects on the skin in terms of softening, smoothing and plumping. As well as considering how comfortable the skin feels after application, we also note how the product smells alongside any issues such as heaviness, greasiness, stinging or the visibility of a white “cast” as a result of the SPF. Finally, we note the ease of use of the product, including the package design, and how long the effects of one application last.

READ NEXT: Our favourite sunglasses for men and women

The best SPF moisturisers you can buy

1. CeraVe Facial Moisturising Lotion SPF 25: Best-value SPF moisturiser

Price: £14 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

US brand CeraVe is popular for its simple but effective, dermatologist-recommended skincare formulas. This lightweight moisture lotion with SPF 25 fits into the brand’s portfolio of products that do exactly what they promise, minus the hefty price tag. Suitable for normal to dry skins, CeraVe’s fragrance-free lotion feels fresh on the face and contains hydrating hyaluronic acid and nourishing ceramides to reverse moisture loss and replenish the skin. It’s a non-greasy, no-frills lotion that works well, offering decent SPF protection for the price.

Key specs – Pack size: 52ml; SPF: 25

Buy now from Look Fantastic

2. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream SPF 30: Best hydrating SPF moisturiser

Price: £29 | Buy now from Kiehl’s

A sun-friendly version of Kiehl’s classic Ultra Facial Cream, this superbly hydrating facial cream feels lovely and light on the skin. It contains nourishing squalane and avocado oil to soften the skin and seal in moisture, as well as glacial glycoprotein and fountain plant extract to rebuild damaged skin. The cream feels fresh and instantly moisturising without being greasy, and it’s great at smoothing dry or rough patches and calming angry skin. Suitable for all skin types, this quenching moisturiser has an SPF of 30 and broad spectrum UVA protection.

Key specs – Pack size: 50ml; SPF: 30

Buy now from Kiehl’s

3. The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow-Protect Lotion: Best brightening SPF cream

Price: £15 | Buy now from The Body Shop

Vitamin C is a great ingredient for healing and brightening skin, and The Body Shop’s Glow-Protect Lotion harnesses the power of Amazonian camu camu berries to plump up skin from within and remove the dull top layers of skin to reveal a fresher, brighter you. The lotion has a wonderful citrus scent that refreshes the senses as it peps up skin, and it leaves skin feeling beautifully soft without any hint of stickiness.

Glow-Protect is great for brightening and banishing winter dullness; for a higher SPF, look instead at The Body Shop’s Skin Defence SPF 50 lotion.

Key specs – Pack size: 50ml; SPF: 30

Buy now from The Body Shop

4. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Moisturizer SPF 30: Best for oily and acne-prone skin

Price: £29 | Buy now from Amazon

If your skin is oily or prone to spots, this oil-free moisturiser gently hydrates without blocking pores. It also contains cell-boosting ceramides and niacinamide – a form of vitamin B3 that helps to reduce inflammation and pore size. The comforting moisturiser won’t cause breakouts or skin flare-ups, and actively helps to repair the skin’s barrier, which in turn reduces the skin’s oil production. LRP’s Toleriane Double absorbs easily into the skin, leaving it feeling soft and comfortable without any greasiness, and an SPF 30 helps to keep the sun’s rays at bay all day.

Key specs – Pack size: 75ml; SPF: 30

Buy now from Amazon

5. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Sun Defence SPF 50: Best for dry skin

Price: £27 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

First formulated in 1930, Elizabeth Arden’s hardworking, multitasking Eight Hour cream is a genuine beauty icon. The award-winning cream has been trusted by millions for almost a century to deeply moisturise and replenish skin, repairing damage with its soothing emollient formula.

This version of the cream adds a healthy sun protection factor of 50 to block harmful rays and minimise the signs of ageing that result from cell damage. As with the traditional Eight Hour formula, the SPF version can be used on the face, hands, knees, brows and nails. A skincare classic with added sun protection benefits, Eight Hour Cream is particularly suitable for dry skins and the winter weather.

Key specs – Pack size: 50ml; SPF: 50

Buy now from Look Fantastic

6. Origins A Perfect World Age Defence SPF 40: Best for mature skin

Price: £30 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

Plant-based beauty brand Origins has recently reformulated its A Perfect World anti-ageing moisturiser with SPF 40. The rich cream contains healing white tea extract, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the skin from environmental pollutants and proves calming on dry and irritated skin. The cream is oil-free but feels luxurious and super-hydrating, and it smells deliciously fresh.

Since the cream is so rich, it takes a little while to sink into the skin, so is best applied a few minutes before makeup. Once applied, skin feels soft and clean – a feeling that lasts all day. Paraben and sulphate-free, A Perfect World includes broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, and by defending the skin from sun damage and dehydration, it helps fight the signs of ageing from the inside out.

Key specs – Pack size: 50ml; SPF: 40

Buy now from Look Fantastic

7. Clinique Superdefense Moisturiser SPF 40: Best for first signs of ageing

Price: £28 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

Ideal for skin beginning to show the first signs of fatigue and fine lines, Clinique’s Superdefense is a silky moisturising cream with a refreshing gel texture that helps bring back your natural glow. Made with botanicals including spinach, blueberry and kale leaf extract, as well as healing vitamin E, Superdefense leaves skin feeling immediately soft and hydrated. Over time, there’s a noticeable improvement to texture and firmness, as well as a reduction in fine lines.

Superdefense contains the chemical sunscreen avobenzone to provide SPF 40 and both UVA and UVB protection. It’s also humidity-resistant, so you can be sure it will keep working all day long, even on warm days and sweaty Tube journeys. A great pick-me-up for tired skin.

Key specs – Pack size: 30ml; SPF: 40

Buy now from Look Fantastic

8. Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream SPF 30  – The best luxury SPF cream

Price: £66.75 | Buy now from Feel Unique

A deeply conditioning day cream with soothing rose, ginkgo biloba and Mediterranean marine algae, Elemis’ Pro-Collagen Marine Cream is one of the world’s best-known anti-ageing moisturisers. The super-hydrating cream feels very soft on the skin and has a fresh, clean smell. Soaking in super-quickly and easily, it leaves skin glowing and bouncy. Pro-Collagen Marine Cream comes in a few distinct varieties: this SPF version protects against sun damage with SPF 30 and a three star UVA rating. The cream isn’t cheap, but a little goes a long way.

Key specs – Pack size: 50ml; SPF: 30

Buy now from Feel Unique

Read more

Best Buys