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The best facial sunscreens for using under makeup

Sheer, innovative formulas to protect your skin from harmful rays

Headshot of Clare StephensonBy Clare Stephenson
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sunscreen for face
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Investing in a sunscreen for your face is one of the best ways to protect your skin. Whether you regularly take advantage of sunny days outside – or simply sit with direct sun on your face next to the window all day – you need to wear adequate sun protection to prevent sun damage, blue light harm and premature ageing. That's where our edit of the best sunscreens for your face comes in, including a bestseller that skincare guru Caroline Hirons swears by.

While makeup and primers claim to have SPF in them, when it comes to sunscreen for your face this isn't going to cut it. The skin on your face is more delicate than the rest of your body, so you should wear a higher factor than normal, looking for at least SPF 30 or more.

It's also important to look for a product that lists SPF as the main ingredient. If it's an added extra it won't provide the same protection as a specific SPF product.

Luckily, long gone are the days when facial sunscreen left you with a ghostly pallor and clogged pores. Skin protectors are much more advanced – even the cheaper pharmacy buys.

From invisible mists, to tinted anti-pollution shields and makeup primers with a high sun protection factor; they're an essential, final step of any good skincare routine for every skin type and budget.

Our beauty team say: "Protecting your skin from the sun is still the smartest future-proofing choice. What's different now is the abundance of ways to wear SPF, from formulas created for your skin type to finishes to covet (rather than put up with)."

Not sure where to start? See our edit of the best sunscreens for your face, all of which you can wear under makeup...

Best SPFs to wear under makeup and keep your skin protected...

1
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE

Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+

Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+
1
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE

Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+

£7 at Cult Beauty
Credit: Cult Beauty

This lightweight SPF from Bondi Sands has been a huge hit with fans since it launched, selling out repeatedly after every re-stock. Its easy-to-wear texture glides onto the skin, seamlessly sitting under makeup without pilling. And best of all? It costs just £7.

2
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For a non-sticky result

Supreme Screen Hydrating Facial Skinscreen

Supreme Screen Hydrating Facial Skinscreen
2
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For a non-sticky result

Supreme Screen Hydrating Facial Skinscreen

This SPF has received high praise from Caroline Hirons. She said in an Instagram live: "I have a mantelpiece filled with a selection of sunscreens, but this is the only one that’s empty. You don’t need it if you’re oily, but if you have dry skin, it glows."

We’d have to agree on all counts; it’s hydrating without feeling sticky and leaves a subtle radiance that makes it a beautiful base to apply your makeup to.

3
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For high protection

Medik8 Advanced Day Ultimate Protect

Advanced Day Ultimate Protect
3
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For high protection

Medik8 Advanced Day Ultimate Protect

Credit: Medik8

Medik8’s unique formula is perfect for city weekends and sun-soaked holidays. Not only does it boast factor 50 defence, but also PA++++ which means you’re getting exceptionally high protection against UVA and UVB rays. It’s a powerful one but has a delicate consistency, so you’d never guess.

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4
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For hydration and protection

Kiehl's Ultra Light Daily UV Defense SPF 50 PA++++

Ultra Light Daily UV Defense SPF 50 PA++++
4
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For hydration and protection

Kiehl's Ultra Light Daily UV Defense SPF 50 PA++++

Credit: Kiehl's

This industry favourite is the perfect pick if you have dry, sensitive skin; it doubles up as a moisturiser so you’re getting just as much hydration as you are sun protection. It’s delightfully lightweight in texture, so a brilliant choice if you’re off to a humid climate.

We’d also suggest this for darker skin tones, as it absorbs quickly with an invisible finish.

5
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For a subtle glow

Glow Screen

Glow Screen
5
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For a subtle glow

Glow Screen

Credit: Cult Beauty

Supergoop's Glow Screen offers a golden lick of pearl (think: delicate shimmer as opposed to glitter) for a high-polish skin finish. There's factor 30 protection to provide great sunray defence, while hyaluronic acid and niacinamide keep your skin supple and hydrated for as long as you wear it.

6
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For lightweight coverage

Anthelios Shaka Ultra Light Facial Sun Cream SPF50

Anthelios Shaka Ultra Light Facial Sun Cream SPF50
6
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For lightweight coverage

Anthelios Shaka Ultra Light Facial Sun Cream SPF50

Credit: Cult Beauty

Models, dermatologists and facialists swear by La Roche-Posay's Anthelios suncare range and so do we. With a super-light texture that's more like a serum than a sunscreen, it blends seamlessly into skin and contains calming French thermal spring water for sensitive skin.

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7
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For brightening

L'Oréal Paris Revitalift Clinical Vitamin C UV Fluid SPF 50+ Moisturiser

On Sale
Revitalift Clinical Vitamin C UV Fluid SPF 50+ Moisturiser
7
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For brightening

L'Oréal Paris Revitalift Clinical Vitamin C UV Fluid SPF 50+ Moisturiser

Now 50% Off
Credit: Look Fantastic

If you’re looking for a brightening boost, this cleverly formulated newcomer combines vitamin C and high-factor protection all in one cream. It has a milky, non-sticky texture and when it dries down it leaves a subtle, light-reflecting glisten – without making your skin look sweaty. It deserves a space in your beauty bag, especially if you struggle with a dull complexion or pigmentation.

8
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For a featherlight feel

Olivanna Sun Defence Drops SPF 50

Sun Defence Drops SPF 50
8
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For a featherlight feel

Olivanna Sun Defence Drops SPF 50

Credit: Olivanna

This is the latest formula that has won over our beauty team. Designed by British skincare brand, Olivanna, these lightweight mineral drops prove that high-factor formulas don’t need to feel suffocating on your skin. It instantly sinks in, leaving behind a delicate touch of radiance to your complexion. And because of the serum-like nature, it works beautifully under your makeup too.

9
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For oily skin

Clarins UV Plus Ecran Multi-Protection Hydratant

UV Plus Ecran Multi-Protection Hydratant
9
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For oily skin

Clarins UV Plus Ecran Multi-Protection Hydratant

Credit: Sephora

The 100% mineral filters in this whisper-light sunscreen give high factor protection that's totally invisible and reassuringly non-greasy (so it's fine for congested complexions).

It's packed with antioxidant plant extracts to protect skin cells from pollution, too.

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10
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For an invisible finish

Hello Sunday The One That's A Serum - Face Drops SPF45

The One That's A Serum - Face Drops SPF45
10
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For an invisible finish

Hello Sunday The One That's A Serum - Face Drops SPF45

Credit: Sephora

Hello Sunday’s SPF face drops are a delight to apply thanks to their silky consistency and streak-free finish. The product sinks in like a dream; it’s hydrating yet lightweight plus the hyaluronic-heavy formula will keep your skin plump too. The ideal pick for the hottest sunshine when you don’t want anything too heavy.

11
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For dry skin

Anti-dryness Super UV

Anti-dryness Super UV
11
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For dry skin

Anti-dryness Super UV

Credit: Boots

Finding the right SPF for dry skin is no easy task. In fact, the wrong formula can make your skin feel even drier. So, opting for a sunscreen that contains great hydrating ingredients is your best bet.

Recommended time and time again is the Garnier Anti-Dryness Super UV. It’s packed with glycerin – a popular humectant – to feed your skin with hydration. We also appreciate the paper tube which uses 49% less plastic.

12
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For on-the-go

Ultrasun Sports High SPF50 Clear Spray Formula 150ml

On Sale
Ultrasun Sports High SPF50 Clear Spray Formula 150ml
12
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For on-the-go

Ultrasun Sports High SPF50 Clear Spray Formula 150ml

Now 20% Off
Credit: Feel Unique

UltraSun’s spray offers a fuss-free approach to applying SPF when you’re participating in sports and activities – simply spritz on and go. The mist settles completely clear and is water- and sweat-proof, so you’ll stay protected no matter what. Best of all, it's wonderfully refreshing so your skin never feels dry and tight.

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13
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For matte finishes

Bioderma Photoderm Max Cream SPF50+ 40ml

Bioderma Photoderm Max Cream SPF50+ 40ml
13
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For matte finishes

Bioderma Photoderm Max Cream SPF50+ 40ml

This is a great daily SPF if you find layering on lots of products in the summer leaves your face bumpy and irritated. It feels hydrating, yet dries with a matte finish. A great one if your pores are a little too over-enthusiastic.

14
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For taking on holiday

Caudalie Vinosun High Protection Spray

Vinosun High Protection Spray
14
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For taking on holiday

Caudalie Vinosun High Protection Spray

Credit: Cult Beauty

Every beauty bag requires a spray-on formula – we think they’re the easiest way to put on sunscreen. They're often applied on top of makeup, but you can also spritz one on as the last step of your skincare routine before applying foundation.

Caudalie’s Vinosun is a wonderful choice; the fine mist settles evenly onto your skin, instantly sinking in to leave an invisible finish. The formula contains vitamin E to ensure your moisture levels stay in check, not to forget the generous factor 50 protection.

It’s also water resistant so be sure to bring it with you on your next holiday by the sea.

15
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For sensitivity

Ambre Solaire Super UV Invisible Face Serum

Super UV Invisible Face Serum
15
BEST SUNSCREEN FOR FACE: For sensitivity

Ambre Solaire Super UV Invisible Face Serum

Credit: Boots

If sensitivity discourages you from applying SPF, be sure to pick up a bottle of this delicate serum; it was specifically formulated with reactive skin in mind. Besides the high factor protection, it contains ceramides which help strengthen your skin barrier and boost hydration.

And if you sway from rich creams, you’ll appreciate the silky consistency of the serum; it seamlessly glides over your skin, making it the perfect base to apply your makeup to.

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