Yes, You Should Be Wearing SPF Every Day—These Are the Products I Really Rate

Given the typically grey nature of the U.K. climate, you could be forgiven for thinking that sunscreen isn’t a daily essential. For many of us, growing up in the ‘90s meant only applying SPF on sunny days or at the beach, which has unfortunately reinforced the (false) idea that UV rays are only harmful when you can see or feel the sun. Most of us now know that this couldn’t be further from the truth. "I frequently get asked whether it is necessary to have a regular SPF in the winter or if it is cloudy,” says Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at Self London. "The answer is always a loud and resounding 100 per cent yes. There is still ultraviolet radiation from the sun around in the winter when the days are shorter (albeit less) and up to 80 per cent of ultraviolet light penetrates cloud cover.”

Given that ultraviolet (UV) radiation is responsible not only for sunburn, but also is the primary cause of skin ageing, triggers inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea, can worsen hyperpigmentation, and plays a strong role in the development of skin cancer, it’s easy to see why skincare experts are so vocal about the importance of wearing sunscreen every day. 


(Image credit: @JULLIE.JEINE)

As an esthetician, I still find myself encountering clients who don’t wear sunscreen daily. The primary reasons? They don’t like the texture or they think sunscreen causes breakouts. I’ve found that many people still associate sunscreens with the thick, chalky, greasy formulas most of us grew up using. But modern innovations in sunscreen technology have allowed for impressive developments, both in the formulations and textures of SPF products. "There has definitely been an improvement in the sunscreens available as brands have realised this is a good area to invest in from a research and development perspective,” explains Mahto. "More of us are now aware of the importance of using sunscreen daily and so it’s a huge market for brands.”

The thing is, the sunscreen market really is huge now, and it can be hard to know where to start, especially if you’re fussy about the type of product you’re putting on your face—and I totally get that. Those with dry skin are going to have a totally different criteria to those with oily skin. If you have sensitivity or are acne-prone then you’re going to have that front of mind, and if you have dark skin, you’ll be on the hunt for a formula that doesn’t leave skin looking chalky or with a ghostly white cast. According to Mahto, taking a look at the formula and swatching the product are the best ways to figure out if it ticks all of the boxes for you. "Oily skin types should go for sunscreens with a matte finish and light gel or fluid textures, whereas those with dry skin can use rich creams and balms,” she explains. "My advice to patients in clinic who have skin of colour is to opt for gel-based chemical sunscreens,” she adds. "Often they are less chalky and do not leave any white marks on the skin.”


(Image credit: @THATGRACEGIRL)

‘Chemical sunscreen’ and ‘physical sunscreen’ are two phrases that will crop up a lot if you’re doing any research into SPF products. "Physical sunscreen works by creating a physical barrier between your skin and the sun’s rays and to a lesser degree absorb UV rays,” explains Mahto. "They use physical filters such as zinc or titanium, whereas on the other hand, chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun’s rays.” Whether a sunscreen is physical or chemical often dictates the texture of the formula—another good reason to try before you buy. For most people this will just be down to personal preference, but if you have acne-prone or sensitive skin, Mahto advises that a physical sunscreen with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide is usually better than one with chemical filters, which can lead to irritation.

Application is also key to ensuring that you have the right amount of sun protection. "Sunscreen is the last skincare product applied before make-up, and you should use about one-half a teaspoon of product to your face and neck,” explains Mahto. "This needs to dry for three to five minutes before applying foundation,” she adds. While no area of skin is more exposed than our faces, it’s important to remember to cover often neglected areas like the tops of our ears, our lips, and the back of our neck—I always wipe off my excess sunscreen on the backs of my hands, as they’re also more exposed than most people realise.

There are hundreds of daily SPFs on the market, with more and more launching every day, but if you’re after a truly modern and innovative SPF formula, I’ve rounded up my tried and tested favourites. There are a mix of physical and chemical formulas, but one thing they all have in common is a lightweight texture and an invisible finish. If you’re looking for the best daily SPFs of 2023, keep on scrolling.

Shop the Best Daily SPFs:

1. Ultra Violette Supreme Screen Hydrating Facial Sunscreen SPF50+

2. Templespa Line Defence SPF 50

3. L'Oréal Paris Bright Reveal Dark Spot UV Fluid SPF 50+

4. Bondi Sands Hydra UV Protect SPF50+

5. Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 30

6. La Roche-Posay La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Aquagel SPF 30

7. Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Watery Sun Gel SPF50+

8. Beauty Pie Featherlight SPF 50 + Primer

9. Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen SPF 30

10. Skinceuticals Brightening UV Defense SPF 30 Sunscreen Protection

11. Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF 30

12. Bondi Sands Face Mist Sunscreen SPF 50+

13. Zitsticka Megashade Breakout-Proof SPF50 Serum

14. Vichy Capital Soleil UV-Age Daily

15. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Uvmune 400 Invisible Fluid SPF 50+

16. Ultra Violette Queen Screen Luminising Sun Serum SPF50+

17. Prof. Dr. Steinkraus Sun Protect SPF 50+

18. Ultra Violette Lean Screen Mineral Mattifying Fragrance-Free Sunscreen SPF 50+

This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Freelance Beauty Editor

Grace Day is a beauty editor and content creator. She has over 10 years of beauty-industry experience, spanning editorial, retail, and e-commerce, which gives her a unique understanding into how people shop for their beauty routines. While studying for a history degree (specialising in the history of beauty) and working as a beauty adviser in department stores, Grace started writing her own beauty blog in order to share the products she discovered while dealing with acne. After graduating, she moved to Beauty Bay as beauty editor and content manager. Grace is currently a beauty contributor to Who What Wear. She has also written for Hypebae and PopSugar and works as a brand consultant and copywriter.