Slap on some see-through sunscreen

Slap on some see-through sunscreen: Traditional lotions can leave you looking basted like a turkey or smeared in white – but a new generation puts them in the shade

  • Claire Coleman said the temperature in the UK is set to skyrocket later this week 
  • She picked out a selection of the best clear sunscreens for protecting skin 
  • She warned some products have been identified as harmful to aquatic life  

Still think wearing sun cream either means basting yourself with oil, like a turkey, or looking like a ghost? Think again. The latest sun protection is genuinely invisible — and non-greasy, too.

With temperatures set to skyrocket later this week, pharmacy shelves are groaning with clear liquids, gels and sticks that leave no trace and yet effectively protect you from UV damage.

So what’s sparked the change? In part, it’s down to technological advances in ingredients, but it’s also because the past few years have seen an increasing amount of awareness about the dangers of the sun for people with darker skin.

‘Dark skin tones can still develop skin cancer, and when they do, the cancer tends to be aggressive as it is usually spotted late,’ explains Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme, NHS consultant and medical director at London’s Adonia Medical Clinic.

Claire Coleman picked out a selection of the best clear sunscreens for protecting skin, ahead of rising temperatures in the UK this week (file image)

But if you’ve ever found yourself a whiter shade of pale after dutifully slapping on the right amount of sun protection, you’ll understand why regular sun creams are not ideal.

‘Traditional sunscreens tend to use high levels of zinc and titanium oxides — white, chalky ingredients that leave a residue on the skin that’s particularly noticeable on darker skins,’ says Dr Ejikeme.

To compound this problem, suncare products are not usually marketed at those with darker complexions.

However, last year the Black Skin Directory teamed up with Ultrasun to produce the UK’s first suncare advert aimed at people with darker skin.

Increased awareness seems to have galvanised the industry, with the result that pretty much every sun protection brand now has an invisible formulation that won’t leave those tell-tale white marks behind.

But while the products might be better for us, are they better for the planet, too?

There’s been a lot of debate in recent years about the impact that the ingredients in sunscreens are having on the environment. And while some have been identified as harmful to aquatic life, and even banned in certain parts of the world, that doesn’t mean all the others are ‘environmentally-friendly’, as some suncare manufacturers would have you believe.

Claire said if you want eco-friendly sun protection, you will need to cover up and stay in the shade (file image)

French beauty blogger Dominique Archambeau (atrecherche.blogspot.com) has pointed out that all sun creams are potentially harmful as they are transferred from skin to the sea where they float on the surface, blocking the sun’s rays and disrupting plankton development.

So if you really want eco-friendly sun protection, you need to cover up and stay in the shade instead.

But, if you are taken with the idea of going clear, there’s a huge range of options, which means you’re bound to find a formulation that suits you . . .

From gels to waters, which is right for you?

OLD-SCHOOL SPRAYS


Claire said those who like a classic pump spray will appreciate Nivea Sun Protect & Dry Touch Invisible Spray in SPF 10/20/30/50 (pictured right) and Garnier Ambre Solaire Clear Protect in SPF 15/30/50 (pictured left)

For those that like a classic pump spray, there’s Nivea Sun Protect & Dry Touch Invisible Spray in SPF 10/20/30/50 (from £6.50, amazon.co.uk), which really lives up to its ‘dry touch’ promise, spreading easily over the skin, while leaving it non-tacky.

For those who like something that feels a little more moisturising, try the Garnier Ambre Solaire Clear Protect in SPF 15/30/50 (from £6, tesco.com). It’s easily absorbed but has a slightly oilier feel.

The only drawback with pump sprays like this is that if you get sand in them while you’re on the beach, the spray mechanism can jam easily.

ULTRA-LIGHT WATER


Claire suggests Solar Protective Water SPF 50 (pictured left) and Lancaster, Sun Protective Water SPF 30 (pictured right) if you don’t like the way traditional sprays sit on the skin 

If you don’t like the way some traditional sprays sit on the skin — some find them a bit greasy — try an ultra-light product such as one of the new ‘waters’ that have started to make their mark on the suncare market. Vichy pioneered the concept with its Solar Protective Water, which was launched as an SPF 30 and now comes in SPF 50, too (£19, vichy.co.uk).

Lancaster, whose suncare has always been excellent (if a little pricey), also does a Sun Protective Water SPF 30/50 (£26.50, lookfantastic.com).

The product sits in the bottle as two layers, one of oil and one of water, so you have to give it a good shake to mix before use. But it feels really light, although still moisturising, and absorbs beautifully.

QUICK SPRITZES



Claire said aerosol sprays are a speedy option. Pictured left to right: Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Spray SPF 15/30, La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Invisible Fresh Mist SPF 50 and Heliocare 360 Invisible Spray SPF 50

Aerosol sprays — don’t worry, these days they don’t contain CFCs that damage the ozone layer — are another very easy option, especially if you want to make sure kids are protected quickly and easily.

Some dermatologists fear we tend not to apply enough of these as we can’t gauge accurately how much we’re using. But if you’re aware of this, and are more likely to reapply if you have a spray can, it’s still a good and speedy option. The coconut fragrance of Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Spray SPF 15/30 (£8, hawaiian-tropic.co.uk) immediately conjures up the holiday vibe, wherever you are. It claims to keep skin moisturised for 12 hours.

You can also try Heliocare, a brand much loved by dermatologists, which does a 360 Invisible Spray SPF 50 (£28.99, heliocare.co.uk).

French pharmacy favourite La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Invisible Fresh Mist SPF 50 (£10.50, escentual.com) is a handbag essential as it’s designed to be used on the face and is a great way of topping up sun protection during the day without messing up your make-up.

CLEVER NEW GELS



Claire said the new products are ideal for those who worry that they’re not getting the right dose of product from a spray. Pictured left to right: Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield SPF 30, Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 30 and Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 30

Those who worry that they’re not getting the right dose of product from a spray should take a look at the new gel products.

Claire recommends Clarins Invisible Sun Care Stick SPF 50 (pictured) to those who love the idea of a solid stick 

It’s not hard to pump or squeeze out the recommended half a teaspoon for your face and neck (and, if you’re talking full body, half a teaspoon for each arm, a teaspoon for each leg, and another teaspoon each for the front and back of the torso).

Unfortunately, many of the new gels seem to be designed exclusively for the face, but for the body, try Ultrasun’s Sports Gel SPF 20/30/50 (from £16, ultrasun.com).

The following formulations are not only great facial sunscreens, but also make a good primer, or base, for make-up: Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield SPF 30 (£65, murad.co.uk), Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 30 (£20, glossier.com) and Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 30 (£30, cultbeauty.co.uk).

SOLID STICK

Finally, if you love the idea of a solid stick, but don’t want to look like a zinc-streaked cricketer, get your hands on Clarins Invisible Sun Care Stick SPF 50 (£19, clarins.co.uk).

It looks like an orange boiled sweet and gives targeted non-oily, non-greasy protection.

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