14 June 2024

Is it worth spending more money on SPF?

14 June 2024

It’s long-established that we should be wearing SPF every day – not just in the summer – but with better weather on the horizon, it’s even more important that our skin is protected.

But with so many on the market – and varying prices – how much money do you need to spend? And what do high-end SPF products offer that cheaper brands don’t?

According to dermatologist Dr Preema Vig: “Budget or mass market SPF products normally have the same UV protection as the higher end SPF products” – proving they have the same SPF rating and offer broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

The difference with higher end brands, however, is the additional skincare ingredients they contain.

“The formulas may feel different on the skin, for example, they may feel lighter and can be lighter and can absorb easier, whereas some of the cheaper SPF products may feel sticky on the skin and can block the pores,” says Vig.

“Some cheaper SPF products also may not be a ‘broad spectrum’ product so it will just protect against UVB rays and not UVA rays as well.

“As long as the SPF works then it isn’t so much a case of the amount of money you spend, but rather the information about the benefits of the product.”

So what other ingredients might be worth looking for in an SPF product? If it’s a product you’re using on your face, as opposed to your legs, it might be beneficial to add additional ingredients, so Vig says it all depends on where you’re using the product – and your skin type.

“You may like a more moisturising formulation for your body and a special formulation for your face, where you are applying make-up or have oiler skin.”

For oily skin she advises lighter, sheer formulations that are non-greasy. For mature skin, opt for those that contain vitamin C to brighten and antioxidants to repair. “For dryer skin types, consider moisturising formulations that improve the skin barrier and repair,” she says. A stabilised vitamin C which can help with skin radiance, fine lines and age spots.

What you will notice about lots of higher-end SPF products is that they are SPF 50+, as opposed to simply SPF50. “The plus sign means ‘more than’, explains Vig, “this means that SPF50+ sunscreen must provide at least SPF60 in testing.

Many pricier brands also prioritise environmental factors for their products, too.

“It’s worth looking for an SPF that is a mineral sunscreen – this means that it doesn’t use chemicals like a chemical sunscreen does to block UVA and UVB rays, instead they use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to form a broad spectrum filter that block UV rays, these are also better for people with sensitive skin, acne and eczema,” says Vig.

“It is trial and error, and also – you have to like having the product on otherwise you won’t maintain the habit.”

Here, I try out some new mid to high-end SPFs – designed for use on the face – on the market this summer. For reference, I’m in my late 30s, have combination skin with some fine lines.

Origins Ginzing SPF30 Daily Moisturiser, £34

This formula includes vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and plant-derived glycerin for hydration, and is made using coffee beans, white ginseng, golden ginseng, organic ginger and vitamin E. It has a lovely smell and a zingy, wake-up vibe with caffeine and ginger ingredients – so it’s a real pleasure to apply in the mornings. It doesn’t sink in as quickly as others I’ve tried, leaving a slight tact on my skin, so I recommend leaving some time before applying make-up.

Vichy Mineral 89 72H Moisture Boosting Daily Fluid SPF50, £24, Boots.com

Enriched with a blend of hyaluronic acid, squalane, vitamin B3 and volcanic water mineral, this formula promises to nourish the skin’s moisture barrier while locking in hydration for up to 72 hours. It suited my skin, and felt light with a nice finish. It’s a good price for a mineral sunscreen so a great mid-price option for everyday use.

No7  Future Renew Damage Protection Defence Shield SPF50, £23.70, Boots.com

From the popular high-street brand, this formula including a ‘super peptide blend’ was clinically tested over a 12-month trial, and makes some big claims about reversing the signs of photodamage, fine lines and wrinkles. It’s a mid-range consistency and while I can’t comment on the reversing ageing signs claims just yet, it is hydrating, although does ‘sit’ on my skin a little.Aurelia London Hydrate and Protect Anti-Ageing SPF50 Moisturiser, £65

Aurelia’s new launch boasts skin-calming postbiotics derived from probiotic cultures combined with 2% niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. I expected a lot for £65 and it feels lovely to apply, resulting in a dewy glow, if a bit shiny on my skin. It’s a slightly thicker consistency than others and my skin feels soft for hours after application, but it’s probably more suited to drier skin-types.

Paula’s Choice Barrier Protect Mineral Sunscreen SPF30, £30

A brand that’s blown up on social media, Paula’s Choice’s new SPF is a sheer mineral gel cream and claims to be ideal for sensitive skin types. It also promises better distribution of SPF thanks to smaller titanium dioxide particles. On application, it feels lightweight and didn’t clog my pores. I can see what all the fuss is about.

MZ Skin Expert UV Protector SPF 50, £110

The priciest of the lot, I didn’t want to love this as much as I did, but the fluid is such a lovely consistency. This uber-moisturising formula sinks into my skin beautifully with no white cast, and makes it looks hydrated for hours, without clogging pores. It includes advanced skincare ingredients including Arabian cotton stem cell extract which is said to protect against free radicals and UV damage, niacinamide, panthenol and multi-molecular hyaluronic acid.

Murad Multi-Vitamin Clear Coat Broad Spectrum SPF 50, £42

For something completely different there’s Murad’s new clear SPF, with a blend of vitamins C, D, E and F and is fortified with omegas derived from chia seeds. There’s no danger of white cast here and it’s designed to let your natural skin tone shine through. Having never used a clear SPF before, it felt unusual, but incredibly silky. It has the texture of a primer instead of a moisturiser and I loved how it felt on and how well it works under make-up. It does have a unique smell that some might not like, but it’s still my pick of the lot.

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