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Image / Beauty

Sunscreen that doesn’t suck and won’t budge your make-up


by Holly O'Neill
21st May 2020
Sunscreen that doesn’t suck and won’t budge your make-up

Sunscreen for those who hate sunscreen


I have a bad beauty editor confession to make.

I am still a relatively new convert to applying sunscreen daily.

I know. It took endless quotes from interviewing dermatologists, a trip to a sunscreen laboratory in France and a big chunk of dark pigmentation on my lip that was due to be chopped off pre-lockdown for me to think, “huh… guess I should probably wear sunscreen every day.”

Our education around sunscreen in Ireland is woefully lacking. First of all, what do you think the number beside the SPF is? I’ll tell you; using sunscreen with an SPF of 50 means that an average person would be protected for 50 times longer than if they’d gone without. This is why we’re told to top up regularly.

Another myth: “I only need to wear sunscreen outdoors if it is sunny.” Here’s the thing, UVB rays are responsible for burning, UVA rays are responsible for ageing. UVA rays are 100 times more numerous than UVB. They are all over the world, and can travel through clouds, water and the window of your car. If it’s daytime, be it in rain, snow or shine, you need sunscreen.

Here’s the statistic that might get you using every day; 80% of how we age has nothing to do with genetics or the passage of time. It’s down to photo-ageing, caused by repeated exposure to UV rays. So how you look in a few years is 80% down to you.

And the final issue most people have with sunscreen is, of course, “if I wear sunscreen I won’t get tan.”

The is the most difficult one to move past. You will still actually get a tan, but you need to rewire the little bit of your brain that sees a natural tan as a great luxury, and accept that it is in fact, the evidence of damage to the skin, beautiful as it may be. This fact is a lot easier to get past when you consider the whooper selection of incredible tan drops that you give you a glowing sun-kissed complexion all year round.

Even when I knew all that, I still had a hard time with sunscreen because here’s the thing: sunscreen sucks. I had never met one I loved. All the sunscreen in my memory left a chalky white cast on the skin or a greasy feeling. It made my make-up pill and come away in chunks, it made me breakout, it made me rashy, it made my eyes water, it smelled like cheap shower gel. It’s another step off faff in my beauty routine, and I wasn’t even going to get to reap the benefits of it for years.

Sunscreen is life insurance for your face. And your life too, really, because according to the National Cancer Registry, mortality rates for some individual cancers, notably melanoma of the skin, show ongoing or recent increases.

Well, I’ve put in the groundwork over the last couple of years, and I can tell you that there are several, imperceptible, great sunscreens, for you, the person you hates sunscreen or just can’t be arsed. The ones below won’t fiddle with your make-up. They will effectively protect you from UVA and UVB, pollution and free radical damage.

Some I even enjoy using; the Skingredients one leaves a gorgeous peachy tint to the skin, the La Roche Posay one makes your skin look dewy and plump and the Clarins one looks great in your Instagram pictures on the beach. The Glossier one converts all who hate sunscreen and the Skinceuticals, Murad, Dermalogica, Avène, Kiehl’s and Garnier ones are packed with other skincare benefits too.

Just remember to top up regularly, don’t forget your neck, chest and hands and always go for broad-spectrum. Welcome to adulthood.

Skingredients Skin Shield SPF 50 PA+++, €42

Avène Very High Protection SPF50+ Cream, €18

Glossier Invisible Shield, €24

Clarins Dry Touch Facial Sun Care SPF50+, €23


Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50, €64.95


Dermalogica Invisible Physical Defence SPF30, €59

Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily UV Defense SPF50, €41

Garnier Ambre Solaire Sensitive Sun Cream SPF50+, €5

La Roche Posay Anthelios Shaka Ultra-Light Fluid SPF50+, €19.50


Skinceuticals Ultra Facial Defence SPF50, €39

Photography by Dermalogica.

Read more: Don’t feel bad about your neck — a dermatologist urges the importance of protecting ‘the forgotten skin’

Read more: A dermatologist and photobiologist told us everything you need to know about sunscreen

Read more: My summer outfit inspiration, courtesy of Harry Styles’ new video

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