Sun creams that do more

May 3 2022

Stylish Spy

6 min read

Everyday sun creams hero shot

You only have to browse the supermarket shelves to notice how far sun creams have come since the 70’s, with more choice than ever before. From SPF100 for the fair-skinned to once-a-day applications for the forgetful, modern-day sun creams do what it says on the tin – and then some.

We asked the Spa Spies to test sun creams that don’t just protect but have another trick up their sleeve… From daily-use and tinted to anti-ageing and ocean-friendly, here’s what we slathered on:

Temple Spa Life Defence SPF30
Extra: anti-pollutant
(50ml, £40)

Key ingredients: rocket, ginseng, vitamin E, hyaluronic acid.

First impressions:
Presented in Temple Spa’s classic sage-hued box, this facial sun cream comes in a white squeezy tube with a twist off black cap. The product itself is light-weight with a subtle floral aroma, reminding me of sunny holidays abroad.

What’s it like?
Whilst the box advises applying a generous amount, this luxurious cream goes a long way - a drop the size of a 5 pence coin did the trick. I applied it straight onto clean skin (without serum or moisturiser) and my skin felt hydrated and protected without any clagginess. It sinks in quickly, too.

Does it work?
Temple Spa claim that the clever ingredients in their Life Defence SPF30 create a barrier against the sun, skin-damaging free radicals, city pollution, air con, high energy visible blue light from digital devices and daily skin stress. The product is suitable for all skin types including sensitive skin.

A daily-use sun cream that also protects against daily life in the city is a winner for me. It’s perfect for adding radiance to my oily combination skin, while the redness I often experience felt soothed after use.

Caudalie Vinosun SPF 50+
Extra: ocean-friendly
(40ml, £19)

Key ingredients: Caudalie’s patented antioxidant complex comprising grape seed polyphenols, vitamin E and epicea from Norwegian spruce trees.

First impressions:
The bright yellow tube makes a sunny addition to any bathroom but one look at their “100% plastic collect” and “Ocean Protect” logos and you know they mean business. The aim? To collect and recycle the same amount of plastic as they use, as well as going a step further with a product that doesn’t contain octinoxate and oxybenzone - both toxic to corals.

What's it like?
The product is much more fluid than a cream - don’t open it upside-down until you are ready. The fragrance-free, pale yellow liquid smooths easily over the skin without leaving a chalky residue or greasy feel. I didn’t feel the need to wash my hands afterwards.

Does it work?
The sunny coast of Norfolk was kind during my fortnight of testing, leaving my skin with a soft sunny glow without any reddening or irritation.

I haven’t braved the sea yet but - when I do - will be safe in the knowledge that I am being kind to ocean wildlife. I found it works well as a primer for make-up and, at £19 for 40ml’s, it's good value to boot.

Natura Bissé C+C SPF 50 Dry Touch Sunscreen Fluid
fast drying
(30ml, £60)

Key ingredients: Vitamin C, vitamin E and artemisia for anti-aging. Bisabolol to soothe and carnosine to promote firmness.

First impressions:
This sunscreen comes in a vivid orange tube with a white top. Part of the Natura Bissé C+C range, the packaging is simple and sophisticated, and small enough to throw in your bag and use on the go.
What’s it like?
The pump top means it's easy to measure out the product. The texture is a little thicker than most moisturisers but, being quick dry, doesn't have the tacky feel you usually get. Once applied, my skin felt smooth, soft and hydrated. It has a gentle citrus smell.

Does it work?
With SPF 50 broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection this moisturiser is as good as it gets in protecting your skin from the sun. It sits on the skin beautifully and feels like a treat rather than something necessary. It's water and sweat resistant, and the formula is reef safe. It's also vegan and cruelty-free.

I love the fact that this sunscreen is holiday-worthy - it will stand up to swimming in the pool and dashing around in the heat while remaining safe for the wildlife in the ocean. It will definitely become a travel companion.


Comfort Zone Water Soul Eco Sun Cream SPF30
Extra: super water resistant
(150ml, £24)

Key ingredients: about 33 ingredients that we have never heard plus two we have: water and citric acid

First impressions:
Water Soul is the brand new range from Comfort Zone including SPF30/50 sun creams, an Aloe after sun gel and an eco shower gel. The SPF30 comes in a tall, slim mint-hued plastic bottle with a white pull off lid and pump-action top.

What’s it like?
One pump delivers a small amount of cream which smells like sunscreen but with a more subtle scent. The cream sinks in quickly leaving no sticky residue and a clean top.

Does it work?
As its claims to be ‘very water resistant’, I applied it before a quick dip to see if post-swim re-application was necessary before lying on a lounger in the sun – it wasn’t, for an hour at least.

As somebody that swims regularly before a lie in the sun, this product will definitely be joining me on holiday. I love the fact that the range also includes an after-sun, shower gel and SPF50 for warmer days.

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

Key ingredients: Aloe Vera, organic UVA/UVB filters and too many science-y names to list.

First impressions:
This stylish monochrome plastic tube, with silver writing on the front and back, has a white plastic pull off lid and pump-action top. At 50mls, it’s small enough to throw in your handbag for sunny top-ups when necessary.

What’s it like?
One pump delivers a tiny amount of the beige cream which sinks in quickly and covers evenly, leaving no visible shade, unlike a foundation. The website claims it to have a faint fragrance of summer cucumbers; while we couldn’t detect this, the sun cream does smell fresh without being overpowering. A little goes a long way. 

Does it work?
As somebody that rarely wears make-up Million Dollar Facial’s Shield 50+ evens my skin out nicely without feeling thick or sticky. I’ve been using it every morning for a month now and haven’t run out yet.

It's hard to find a daily-use sunscreen with a high SPF so this ticks two boxes already without doubling up as a foundation. The £38 price-tag puts it at the mid-point of all the creams we tested but it will last.


Naturopathica Lavender and Turmeric Moisturiser SPF50
Extra: daily use moisturiser 
(65ml, £60)

Key ingredients: lavender, Turmeric and micronized zinc oxide (sustainably sourced, cruelty-free).

First impressions:
I was intrigued to try Naturopathica’s new moisturiser-cum-SPF - could this 2-in-1 be the holy grail of summer skincare? Described as super-lightweight, nurturing and non-whitening, the moisturiser combines soothing lavender and antioxidant-packing turmeric extract with broad spectrum SPF50.

What’s it like?
If you love the scent of lavender, you’ll love this product - the first sniff transports you to a field of these discernible purple blooms. If lavender’s not your bag: step away (thankfully, I’m in the first camp). As recommended, I slathered a generous amount to my face and neck 15 minutes before pottering in the garden. The moisturiser is rather thick and sun cream-like, but it did sink in eventually and didn’t leave my skin feeling greasy.

Possibly a little too heavy for every day wear given my combination skin, but I would definitely use this in the summer months to save putting sun cream on top of moisturiser. I love the fact its ocean-friendly, too - the micronized zinc oxide is coral reef safe while blocking UVA/UVB rays. Win win.
Editor’s note: this product will not be available to purchase until June 2022



Stylish Spy

3rd May 2022

Spy Likes:

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

Spy Dislikes:

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

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