The Spa Spies test everyday sun creams

Even on dull days, harmful rays can penetrate through to our skin making a layer of sun cream almost as beneficial as moisturiser, if not more so. And don’t get us started on the damaging effects of pollution.

But adding another product on top of an already packed schedule of cleanser, toner, serum and moisturiser isn’t just more time consuming, it costs more, too. And the higher the SPF, the gloopier the cream. making breakouts possible. Sigh.

We challenged The Spa Spies with a nigh-on impossible task: to find a sun cream with an SPF high enough to form a protective barrier but light enough to use every day. Here’s what they found:

Comfort Zone Skin Regimen Urban Shield SPF 30
(40ml, £42)

Key ingredients:
Maqui berry, spinach, wild indigo and dandelion extract - all organic

First impressions:
This stylish black bottle will put the Ambre Soleil in your bathroom cabinet to shame. Pull off the lid to reveal a pump action top that deposits the smallest amount of cream, which is all you need. The smell is fresh but not overpowering – and far cry from the usual coconut-y scents.

What’s it like?
The cream absorbs quickly leaving no greasy residue on your face – or fingers - and can easily be smoothed onto your neck with another pump. I find putting cream on my forehead tricky (I’m as attached to my fringe as Claudia Winkleman) but managed to apply this without causing disruption or stickiness.

After a week, I started noticing spots appearing on my cheeks so ditched the serum from my morning routine and haven’t looked back. Dab a bit on the back of your hands – another area prone to brown spots – and you can wave goodbye to your hand cream, too.

Alpha H Daily Essential Moisturiser SPF 50+
(50ml, £34.95)

Key ingredients:
Vitamin E, vitamin B5 and silica to mattify

First impressions:
This moisturiser-cum-SPF comes in a white tube with a screw top. It's small and light enough to throw in your bag if you want to top up throughout the day. It's easy to use and classily minimalist.

What’s it like?
Being a squeeze tube there's no way of metering the product, but I apply it until my skin feels covered. It's lightweight, non-greasy and non-comedogenic, too, so doesn’t clog up my breakout-prone skin. It smells fresh but not of a specific scent.

Does it work?
With SPF 50 this moisturiser is as good as it gets in protecting from sun damage. I apply it last in my morning skincare routine; it sits on my skin beautifully. On make-up days, it acts as a great primer. It's also vegan and cruelty free.

I've been using this moisturiser for a couple of months now and it feels great on my oily skin. I like the high SPF, and the fact that the product is vegan and cruelty free. I'm a fan.

Million Dollar Facial Medi+ Shield 50+
(50ml, £38)

Key ingredients:
Too many to list, all sounding like they belong on a periodic table

First impressions:
The chic white and black plastic tube, with touches of silver, is so light-weight it can be thrown in your handbag to top up on the go. A white plastic lid pops off to reveal a pump-action top with one push releasing a dot of creamy liquid that’s more akin in colour - and smell - to foundation.

What’s it like?
Despite being quite thick, the cream sunk in quickly leaving no greasiness, sheen or lasting colour (like a foundation) – just soft, even-looking skin. At £38 for 50mls, this product sits in the middle of those we tested but, judging by the amount needed each morning, should last a good while.

With an SPF of 50+ I was worried about applying this on top of cleansed, moisturised skin but didn’t experience any breakouts. After one week, Shield 50+ continues to protect at the highest level making me feel bullet-proof when I leave the house in the morning – pollution? Pah.

Natura Bissé Diamond White SPF50 PA+++ Oil Free
(30ml, £96) 

Key ingredients:
Pomegranate extract, Vitamin E & F, Omega 3 & 6

First impressions:                                                                               
This sleek, handbag-sized product comes in a pearlescent tube with silver pull-off lid and pump-action top. The cream applies evenly with your fingers to face, neck and décolletage.

What's it like? 

I was concerned the thick texture would be too heavy, but the oil-free cream melted into my freshly-cleansed skin leaving it smooth and matte. The melanin-like pigments work on all skin tones; big thumbs up for maximum protection from the sun’s ray, too. Being vegan-friendly and beautifully scented, it felt divine on the skin – something I’ve come to expect from Natura Bissé products.


This CC cream gives bare skin a little confidence boost; wear it under make-up for added luminosity. The top-level SPF 50 and UV protection leaves you free to enjoy hot and sunny weather, while the touch of colour provides a fresh glow - blurring blemishes, redness and evening out skin tone. Top-up every 2-3 hours depending on sun exposure. It will be a staple in my beach bag this summer.


  • Author

    Stylish Spy

  • Age 40-something
  • Skin type Sensitive

Spa Likes

"Minimalist lines; organic products; facial massage; tranquillity; interesting people-watching."

Spa Dislikes

"Discarded towels on loungers; steam rooms that aren't steamy; mobile phones."