Expert Guide to Facial SPF |

Expert Guide to Facial SPF

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We all know UV rays are the ultimate skincare enemy, causing everything from premature ageing and sun spots to skin cancer but, while most of us remember to wear SPF on holiday, how often do you bother to wear sunscreen every single day?

To find out what's really necessary, we went straight to the skincare experts to bring you everything you need to know about facial SPF, from whether moisturisers with added protection count to the best products to try if you’re worried about breakouts...

First things first, do we really have to wear SPF every day?
“In a word: yes. We have to make sure we protect ourselves not only from episodic sun exposure on holiday, but also from daily low-level exposure. I always tell my patients to wear broad-spectrum SPF all year round. Remember that UVA, the ‘ageing’ part of sunlight, does not fluctuate as much throughout the seasons as the ‘burning’ UVB does, so although you may not see the warning signs of burned skin, you could still be experiencing damage.” – Dr Stefanie Williams, Expert Dermatologist and Founder of Harley Street clinic European Dermatology London.

“Yes, I recommend wearing a proper sunscreen with a minimum SPF30 and a UVA 5-star rating on a daily basis. As much as 90% of skin ageing is caused by UV exposure, and penetrating UVA rays are present all year-round. They even travel through glass, so wearing SPF should be the first anti-ageing step anyone takes.” – Dr Sam Bunting, Skincare Expert and Dermatologist.

And when it’s not sunny?
“Still yes! Both lower-level incidental sun exposure (e.g. walking to work or going shopping) and episodically stronger sun exposure (e.g. sunbathing) contribute to skin damage, including premature ageing and increased risk of skin cancer. Additionally, UVA light can penetrate clouds, so even if you can’t feel the sun, this radiation could still be causing damage.”  – Dr Stefanie Williams

What is the minimum SPF we should be using?
“Nothing less than SPF30 on your face. This is because we don’t tend to reach the factor stated on packaging – firstly because we don’t generally apply enough product and, secondly, because we don’t usually re-apply every two hours as recommended.” – Dr Stefanie Williams

 Do moisturisers with SPF in them count?
“Yes, absolutely – but only if the moisturiser you’re using has an SPF of 30-50. Many daily moisturisers only have a measly SPF of 15, which in my professional opinion is simply not high enough” – Dr Stefanie Williams

“I usually recommend flipping this idea and seeking out a moisturising sunscreen instead. Moisturisers with added SPF often aren’t as well-formulated as a moisturising sunscreen and they don’t tend to adhere to the skin as well, meaning that protection can diminish considerably over the course of the day.” – Dr Sam Bunting

 What about foundations or BB creams with added SPF?
“The problem is that their primary purpose drives application in a specific way: most women will only use this type of product in the T-zone and will also tend to apply much less than the desired amount needed to offer proper sun protection.” – Dr Sam Bunting

At what stage of your skincare routine should you apply SPF?
“Your sun protection product should always go on last (just before your foundation, if you wear any).” Dr Stefanie Williams

SPFs often feel greasy and lead to breakouts – how can we prevent this?
“Many sun protection products unfortunately can block pores, leading to spots. However, the good news is there are many excellent new products on the market, which sink into the skin quickly and do not leave a greasy feeling behind. As long as you select a suitable product, then anyone prone to breakouts can still use SPF daily. Anyone who suffers from acne or spots should look for a very light, oil-free formula, such as Physical Protectant by Jan Marini.” – Dr Stefanie Williams

“Seek out brands which formulate in a sympathetic way to breakout-prone skin, such as La Roche Posay, Bioderma and Avène. Advances in formulation have been considerable in recent years and you should look for products using terms such as ‘mattifying’ or ‘dry-touch’ to ensure you don’t turn into a gloopy mess in the warmer months.” Dr Sam Bunting


Hydrabio Eau de Soin SPF 30, £9 | Bioderma



Ultra Shield Lotion SPF 50, £40.50 | Epionce

Mineral SPF 50+, £24.95 | Heliocare 360

Sheer Physical Protection SPF 50, £30.99 | NeoStrata

Mineral Matte UV Defense SPF30, £39 | Skinceuticals

Antioxidant Physical Protectant SPF 30, Jan Marini

Hydrance Optimale UV Light Hydrating Cream, £14.50 | Avène

Anthelios XL Ultra Light Fluid SPF 50+, £11 | La Roche-Posay

Daily Defence Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30, £55 | Zelens


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