The best sun creams in the UK 2023

A must in summer, sunscreen allows you to enjoy the sun while reducing your skin's exposure to UVA and UVB rays, which cause 90% of skin cancers. Take the time to choose your sunscreen carefully to avoid damaging your skin. We suggest you read our buying guide to choose your sunscreen.

Nivea Sun Protect and Refresh Spf50 1

Best value for money

Nivea Sun Protect and Refresh Spf50

The best sunscreen

The editor's favorite is a sun protection spray whose instant cooling effect and light, non-white finish will allow you to apply it on any occasion.

10,14 £ on Amazon

Nivéa Sun protect & Refresh is THE ideal face and body sun protection for the whole family. Water resistant, it has a capacity of 200 ml, absorbs quickly and acts immediately. And its light and discreet texture does not leave an oily film on the skin and can be used as a make-up base.

Thanks to its formula enriched with menthol, the protect & Refresh protects your skin effectively from sunburn without greasy effect and does not stain clothing. Easy to use and certified by as completely safe for toddlers, children, teenagers and adults, it does not contain any allergenic substances and therefore does not cause skin irritation.

This lightweight SPF 50 mist blocks both UVA and UVB rays and is perfect for skin that needs extra sun protection. Reapply every 2 hours for optimal protection. And don't forget to wear a hat and sunglasses!

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Air Soft Face SPF 30 2

Best value for money

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Air Soft Face SPF 30

The best entry-level sunscreen

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Air Soft Face SPF30 is lightweight, easily absorbed and non-shiny. Specially formulated for the face, this lotion is suitable for different skin types and ages.

7,14 £ on Amazon

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Air Soft Face SPF30 is a sun protection lotion SPF 30 especially dedicated to the face. Suitable for the whole family, it is particularly indicated if you stay in places with a UV index of 11, i.e. a sun that hits really hard.

Dermatologically tested, this product hydrates the skin without obstructing the pores. We like its light texture, quickly absorbed, non-greasy and does not leave the skin shiny. Moreover, this lotion remains sufficiently unctuous if one has the dry skin. And applied correctly, it does not cause neither reaction nor irritation at the sensitive skins.

You can use Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Air Soft Face SPF 30 before applying makeup. The monoi scent is very pleasant; perhaps a bit noticeable for those sensitive to perfumes. It's a pity that this water-resistant formula only exists in SPF 30. We also regret the limited capacity of 50 mL.

Laboratoires de Biarritz Alga Maris Enfant SPF50 3

Best premium value for money

Laboratoires de Biarritz Alga Maris Enfant SPF50

The best premium sunscreen

The Alga Maris Enfant SPF50+ from Biarritz Laboratories is effective, safe and easy to apply. Admittedly, it is expensive and stains clothes. But this sun cream for the body and face is perfect for children.

19,12 £ on Amazon

The Alga Maris Child SPF50+ sun cream comes from the Biarritz Laboratories. Certified organic, it is applied to the body and face of our little angels. Thanks to its light texture, this product is easy to apply. Its formula based on natural mineral filters contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which minimizes the risk of allergies. It respects the most sensitive and fragile skins.

You can apply the sun cream Laboratoires de Biarritz Alga Maris Enfant SPF50+ from 6 months. The fact that it is not in spray cancels the risks of inhalation. And the absence of perfume or odor will remove the desire of the children to taste it! This cream is water resistant and suitable for various outdoor activities.

Made in the UK, this 100 mL sun cream contains more than 99.5% of natural ingredients. The airless bottle makes it possible to use it in all the positions, very practical when the child agitates in all the directions. On the other hand, it tends to leave brown traces on clothing, impossible to remove.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50 Dry Touch 4

SPF 50 protection

La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50 Dry Touch

The most effective SPF 50 sunscreen

With Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50+ Lait Confort, even very fair skin is not at risk of sunburn! This 250 mL milk for the body and face is suitable for the whole family.

6,54 £ on Doctipharma

La Roche-Posay offers us Anthelios XL Dry Touch Gel-Cream SPF50+. This 50 ml lotion is a safe value in terms of sun protection. Suitable for the whole family, it is non-comedogenic, has an SPF 50+ index, is exceptionally water resistant and offers a dry touch and an anti-shine finish to the skin.

The light formula of this cream is suitable for different skin types and is particularly indicated for irritated skin. In addition to its melting and non-sticky texture, we like this sunscreen for its protection against UVA and UVB. It is even part of the organic sun creams for the face and the body with the highest level of protection against the UVA.

One of the reasons why it is so effective. You can use it for a trip to the mountains, the beach or any other outdoor activity without risking sunburn. Note that this cream does not leave white marks and comes with a discreet smell.

Buying guide • November 2023

Best sunscreen

Any specific needs?

The best sunscreen

The best entry-level sunscreen

The best premium sunscreen

The most effective SPF 50 sunscreen

Your guide : Samuel

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Comparison table of the best sun creams

Nivea Sun Protect and Refresh Spf50 5
Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Air Soft Face SPF 30 6
Laboratoires de Biarritz Alga Maris Enfant SPF50 7
La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50 Dry Touch 8
Nivea Sun Protect and Refresh Spf50
Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Air Soft Face SPF 30
Laboratoires de Biarritz Alga Maris Enfant SPF50
La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50 Dry Touch
The editor's favorite is a sun protection spray whose instant cooling effect and light, non-white finish will allow you to apply it on any occasion.
Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Air Soft Face SPF30 is lightweight, easily absorbed and non-shiny. Specially formulated for the face, this lotion is suitable for different skin types and ages.
The Alga Maris Enfant SPF50+ from Biarritz Laboratories is effective, safe and easy to apply. Admittedly, it is expensive and stains clothes. But this sun cream for the body and face is perfect for children.
With Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50+ Lait Confort, even very fair skin is not at risk of sunburn! This 250 mL milk for the body and face is suitable for the whole family.
Has an alcohol odor that is quite unpleasant for some users
Although pleasant, the very noticeable monoi scent may bother the most perfume-sensitive
Leaves stubborn brown stains on clothes
Its small size of only 50 mL
200 mL
50 mL
100 mL
50 mL
For which part of the body?
Body and face
Body and face
Body and face
For whom?
Children and adults
Children and adults
Children 6 months and older
Children and adults
Water resistant

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Buying guide - sunscreen

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How to choose your sunscreen

To be able to safely expose yourself to the sun's rays without the risk of getting a nasty sunburn or, in the worst case, developing skin cancer later on, here are the parameters not to be neglected when choosing a sun cream.

#1 - The SPF protection factor

There are now 4 categories of protection and 8 SPF or Sun Protection Factor indices. SPF 6 and 10 correspond to low protection. Indexes 15, 20 and 25 imply a medium protection. SPF 30 and 50 are for high protection. Finally, the SPF 50+ indices are for very high protection.

Apart from sunscreens for babies and children, the right SPF rating depends on the skin type. For example, high SPF ratings are perfect for very fair skin with blue or green eyes and blonde or red hair. Dark skin doesn't get sunburned; a low SPF is fine for them.

It is also necessary to qualify according to the context. When skiing, even dark browns will opt for SPF 50, while porcelain complexions can be satisfied with SPF 10 for a short exposure in spring. You should also know that the expression "total screen" is no longer permitted, because no sunscreen, whether organic or chemical, filters out 100% of UV rays.

Finally, we often hear that an SPF 15 cream allows you to be exposed to the sun 15 times longer before burning; 50 times longer for an SPF 50, etc. This is not true. In fact, the SPF index is used to quantify the UV rays transmitted to the skin. Count 16.6% or 1/6 for SPF 6 sunscreen; 2% or 1/50 for SPF 50 and so on.

#2 - Broad-spectrum protection

Sunscreen is supposed to protect against UVA and UVB rays. This is called broad spectrum protection. As a guide, know that UVA rays accelerate skin aging. As for UVB, it increases the risk of skin cancer.

It should be noted that the UV rays considered in the calculation of SPF indices are UVB rays, because they are more harmful in the short term and are responsible for sunburn. Since 2006, sun creams protect against both types of UV, with a ratio of 1 to 3. For example, an SPF 30 cream must guarantee SPF 10 protection against UVA and SPF 30 against UVB. However, the real protection does not always reflect the index displayed.

#3 - Presentation and composition

Apart from the cream, sun protection products are available in lotion, spray... There is no real difference in formula or effectiveness between presentations of the same sun protection. You can choose the one that makes you feel most comfortable. However, spray sunscreens make your skin shiny and are potentially dangerous if inhaled.

Regarding the composition, some ingredients in sunscreens are followed by the mention "nano". Indeed, cosmetic brands, organic or conventional, reduce sunscreens into particles of the order of nanometer, more commonly called nanoparticles.

This process facilitates the penetration of the sunscreen while avoiding white marks. But it is not without risk. Reduced to nanometric size, an ingredient can completely change its behavior. This considerably complicates the evaluation of the safety of nanomaterials, aspects of which still elude scientists.

#4 - The adapted public

Sunscreen for the face, for the body, for children, for the elderly, for sensitive skin... It's easy to get lost. According to a special report of the magazine 60 millions de consommateurs, sun creams for children are not necessarily better than those for adults!

According to the experts, a good sunscreen can be used safely by the whole family, from children to grandparents. In many cases, there are no major differences between the composition of a family cream and a special cream for children. As long as it is effective and harmless, everything is fine!

So what about sun protection for children? They are often expensive for marketing reasons and because they are intended for younger people. Indeed, children have a more sensitive skin. And it must be admitted that most of them contain very few allergens. But the effectiveness is not always there.

#5 - Water resistance

The last criterion matters if you plan to go swimming. In addition to fresh or salt water, skin sweats when it's hot. A water-repellent sunscreen provides protection from the sun despite the water and sweat. There are sun creams that are water resistant for 40 minutes. Others are water resistant for 80 minutes.

Otherwise, wearing a non-water resistant sunscreen while swimming can cause unpleasant burns. The damage will be felt before you even see it on your skin! But keep in mind that waterproof creams, including organic ones, contribute to water pollution.

Tanning and sun cream

In summer, we want to tan while protecting ourselves from the sun. But is it really possible to reconcile these 2 objectives? According to dermatologist Catherine Gaucher, the tanning process is natural. It protects the skin against cancers due to UV rays. With or without sunscreen, the tanning process will always start. There is no such thing as a "total screen" as advertised by cosmetic brands. No sunscreen, even with an SPF 50 or 100, is 100% effective against UV rays.

Which sunscreen factor is right for you?

As each skin has different needs, it is essential to choose the right sunscreen and to know the sun protection factor that suits your skin.

  • The 50+ index

It is suitable for skin that does not tan or has great difficulty in tanning. This includes mixed race skin, freckled skin, very light skin, and people with red, blond or chestnut hair. These people easily, even systematically, get sunburned.

  • Index 30 to 50

This factor is suitable for light skin that tans gradually and gets sunburned easily. It is also suitable for people with brown or blond hair.

Track down the good and bad ingredients

Pay particular attention to the following ingredients, which guarantee a quality sunscreen: parsol 1789 or avobenzone with mexoryl (SX and XL) or octocrylene; tinosorb (or bemotrizinol); zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (whose safety remains uncertain). Also, make sure the product does not contain the following ingredients: oxybenzone (BP-3 or BZ-3); benzophenones (BP-1, BP-2, BP-3 or BZ-3, escalol 567, uvinul M40, uvasorb Met); octyl-methoxycinnamate (OMC); 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC); 3-benzylidene camphor (3-BC) Of course, no sunscreen will have all the good ingredients listed while being free of the questionable ones. This applies to all labels, including products for "sensitive skin" or "children" distributed in pharmacies.

The different types of sun creams

Sunscreens are the main components of all sun creams, both organic and traditional. They come in two types, chemical filters and mineral filters, and provide protection against UVA and UVB rays.

Classic sun cream

This is the most common type. It is also the most accessible in terms of price, because it is less expensive and less constraining to produce. The classic sun cream uses chemical filters, i.e. of synthetic origin. It acts after 30 minutes after application on the skin, unlike the cream containing mineral filters that act immediately.

Among the components, we can find benzophenone or oxybenzone, suspected of being a mutagen and responsible for 50% of allergies to sun protection. Conventional sunscreens also contain preservatives such as paraben, silicones, responsible for the pleasant texture that glides on the skin, potentially allergenic synthetic perfumes, etc.

Organic sun cream

This type of sunscreen uses natural mineral filters such as zinc oxide, talc or titanium dioxide. The benefit is that many of the undesirable compounds are excluded. In addition, mineral filters claim to be a barrier against UV and not to contain allergens, where chemical filters absorb some of the UV received.

Despite what manufacturers claim, organic sunscreens are not really allergen-free. The differences between organic and traditional creams are particularly small in the ranges for children. And contrary to the traditional creams, they do not offer a sufficient protection against the UVA. Not to mention the inevitable white marks!

This type of cream is safe and much healthier. It should be suitable for the whole family, children and people with sensitive skin. However, you should know that in reality, organic sunscreen does not block all UV rays, especially UVA.

If you plan to use it for a short period of time and still get enough protection from UVA rays, you should use a conventional sunscreen. If you look hard enough, you'll find such a product with very few undesirable ingredients.

Sunscreen or sun oil?


Sunscreen protects the skin from sunburn while allowing it to tan quickly and safely. For prolonged exposure, it is best to use broad-spectrum filters because of their optimal protection against UVB and UVA rays. Today, you can find two categories on the market: the classic creams with chemical composition, and the organic creams composed of natural ingredients.

Although the first category is protective, it contains potentially allergenic agents such as paraben-type preservatives, PEG-type thickeners and petrochemical derivatives such as kerosenes or silicone. The organic version, on the other hand, is completely free of them. Instead, it opts for more natural ingredients such as vegetable oils, sesame oil, jojoba oil or karanja oil and vitamin E. However, since organic sunscreen does not penetrate the epidermis, it leaves unsightly white patches on the surface and provides only short-term protection. Finally, it cannot provide protection against UVA and UVB at the same time, you will need to use two different filters.

Solar oil

Sunscreen oil is popular because of its texture, which allows the skin to tan well in the sun. However, since sun oil can be applied to the skin unevenly, it can be very unprotective. Fortunately, cosmetic giants have now developed a new formula enriched with gelling polymers to give sun oil a texture that is easy to spread on the skin for optimal protection. On the market today, we can find sun oils with SPF 15, 20 or 30, and even 50, allowing us to combine tanning and protection.


Basically, the choice between sun cream and sun oil will depend on your skin's sensitivity and your preferences. If you want to have a beautiful tan and shiny skin, the velvety texture of sun oils is made for you. However, be sure to apply the product in sufficient quantity and as evenly as possible for optimal protection of your skin. If effectiveness is important to you, turn to sun creams. If you are environmentally conscious or don't trust chemical products, choose organic sun creams. In any case, whether you choose sun cream or sun oil, remember to reapply the product every two hours to ensure maximum protection, and even more frequently depending on the activity you do.

The 5 reasons to buy a sun cream.

We tend to forget the importance of protection from the sun's rays. It's true that seeing the sun shine is like seeing a beautiful day begin, but also remember that the sun can be hazardous to your health.

Avoiding Sunburn

What is sunburn?
Sunburn is a superficial or deep inflammatory reaction of the skin. It is caused by short-term exposure to UV rays (only 5% of the UV rays) and can occur even if the UV index seems low.
It can cause first the first degree burn, it is manifested by the redness of the skin and appears between 6 to 24 hours after the exposure. Then the second degree superficial burns with the appearance of blisters. And finally, deep second-degree burns, the appearance of blisters that can leave scars.

Say STOP to premature aging of the skin

We are talking about skin cancers, which are more serious problems. In order not to reach this stage, it is necessary to apply sunscreen. In other words, the existence of elements that can act as a barrier between the sun's rays and you prevents certain skin diseases. Think about it.

Reduce water pollution

The use of an organic sunscreen, in addition to protecting your skin, is perfectly suited to certain living beings in the oceans. However, some products protect the sea, but harm the skin. Take the time to check each composition of the cream. The ideal is to have a water pollution cream without undesirable ingredients for your health.

A perfect tan

Did you know that sun creams do not prevent tanning, although the tanning will take longer, but it will be better. With the sun cream, the tanning is more prolonged without the skin being peeled or dehydrated.

Let your children enjoy their summer vacation.

Knowing that it is strongly discouraged to expose your children under 3 years old to the sun, you are afraid to leave them too long at the beach or even to let them play outside in the middle of summer. Their immature skin can be seriously damaged by UVA and UVB rays. Think about child-friendly sunscreen and let them enjoy their summer vacation without worrying about sunburn.

The best brands of sun creams

In our opinion, the best brands of sun creams in 2022 are :

Hawaiian Tropic
Laboratoires de Biarritz
New Layer
La Roche-Posay

We hesitated for a long time between Nivea and Garnier. Finally, we opted for the former because of its special Nivea Sun line. Regardless of age and skin type, this brand's sunscreens and after-sun products are great values.

Founded in the United States, this brand is world-renowned in the business. It's quite simple, there are very few best sunscreen rankings without a Hawaiian Tropic product. Children, adults, lotions, sprays... it offers everything and always quality.

This French brand offers very interesting ranges of organic products. Alga Maris for sun protection, Alga Natis for babies or Alga Cicosa for repairing care. Its SPF 30 and SPF 50 sun creams, milks or sprays rarely disappoint.

This brand essentially manufactures sun protections suitable for the whole family. 100% vegan, plastic-free and microparticle-free are common to each of its products. This brand is the proof that you can make quality with little means.

La Roche-Posay is known for its famous thermal water. It also offers sun protection lines called Anthelios, Autohelios and Posthélios. If you're looking for a high SPF sunscreen, you need this brand.

What is the price for a sunscreen

The diagram below will help you to get an idea of the typical prices for each price range (entry-level, mid-range and high-end).

However, more expensive does not necessarily mean better.

We therefore advise you to always consult our ranking before deciding, rather than blindly relying on price ranges.

5 £ to 15 £
15 £ to 20 £
more than 20 £
Price range diagram


Be careful with your children.

If you're looking for a sunscreen for your kids, check the ingredient list for titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Both are considered less irritating to young skin. Babies under 6 months of age should definitely be kept out of the sun.

Do not combine sunscreen and repellent.

If you need insect repellent, buy it separately and apply it before you put on sunscreen.

Don't fall into the trap of high-rated labels.

Anything above SPF 50 may encourage you to stay in the sun too long. But don't assume that your SPF 100 sunscreen will necessarily protect you longer than an SPF 30 sunscreen. You may regret it!

Avoid storing your sunscreen in a hot place.

Exposure to high heat can break down the lotion's ingredients and make it ineffective. Don't store it in your car or garage. Instead, keep your sunscreen in a cool, dry place.

Avoid sunscreens containing vitamin A and oxybenzone.

Eating vitamin A-rich vegetables is good for your health, but smearing vitamin A on your skin is not. Studies show that tumors and lesions develop earlier on skin coated with creams containing vitamin A. Also avoid oxybenzone. It is a synthetic estrogen that penetrates the skin and can disrupt the hormonal system.


Which sun cream to choose?

The best sunscreen depends on your needs and your budget. Read our buying guide to find out which products are the best.

Can I use my sunscreen on my children's skin?

Yes, but be sure to check that your cream does not contain ingredients that are harmful to children. To be safe, use a sunscreen appropriate for their age.

What ingredients should be avoided?

Here are the ingredients to avoid when buying a sunscreen: paraben, microparticles, plastic, silicone, oxybenzone (BP-3 or BZ-3); benzophenones (BP-1, BP-2, BP-3 or BZ-3, escalol 567, uvinul M40, uvasorb Met); octyl-methoxycinnamate (OMC); 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC); 3-benzylidene camphor (3-BC) Of course, you won't find any cream without all these ingredients. But that does not prevent you from limiting them to the strict minimum.

Is there a specific technique for applying sunscreen to the face?

Since the sun's rays cause much more damage to the corners of the eye, apply your sun cream to this area first. Then continue with the cheekbones, forehead, chin and the rest.

Are there particular areas of the body that need to be protected from sunburn more than others?

Yes, the neck and décolletage are the areas most exposed to UV rays. So, to ensure optimal protection, apply eight dabs of sunscreen to these areas.


Note: Below are some of the sources we have consulted in writing this article. Links to other sites are not continuously updated. It is therefore possible that a link may not be found. Please use a search engine to find the desired information.
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March 2022 : Translation of this buying guide from our partner

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Our selection
Nivea Sun Protect and Refresh Spf50 9
Nivea Sun Protect and Refresh Spf50
Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Air Soft Face SPF 30 10
Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Air Soft Face SPF 30
Laboratoires de Biarritz Alga Maris Enfant SPF50 11
Laboratoires de Biarritz Alga Maris Enfant SPF50
La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50 Dry Touch 12
La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50 Dry Touch


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