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Affordable SPFs are a hit with beauty pros—they're just that good


Let's face it: sunscreen used to be one of the most boring skin-care products. The formula is sticky, leaves a white cast, stings the eyes, and doesn't sit well under makeup. Luckily, they've come a long way since then.
In 2023, sunscreen is a must-have skin care product for many people. They come in a stylish handbag-sized tube and are suitable for all skin tones. In fact, for many beauty editors, sunscreen is a go-to product that deserves review and praise, especially one that won't break the bank.
Coincidentally, sun protection is undoubtedly the most important aspect of your skin care routine. It’s vital that broad-spectrum sunscreen protects your skin from UVA and UVB rays. “Partly to reduce the risk of skin cancer later in life and partly to prevent premature aging of the skin,” consultant dermatologist Dr. Anjali Mahto.
As a rule of thumb, UVA radiation can cause aging (such as fine lines and dark spots) and UVB radiation can cause burns. Wearing sunscreen every day is essential, even on cloudy days. "This is actually when we often experience the worst sunburn because we mistakenly believe there's no sunlight," adds Dr. Mahto added.
 
If you want to make sure you're protected from the sun, you should also make sure you're using enough product. A good estimate is to apply a teaspoon of sunscreen to your entire face and ears. At first glance, this may seem like a bit much, but Dr. Mahto says most of us tend to apply too little sunscreen, so we often don't get the amount listed on the bottle. "Wearing a sunscreen with a high SPF will also help protect your skin." For this reason, it's always better to protect yourself with a dedicated sunscreen than to rely on the SPF in your moisturizer or makeup, says Mahto.
Generally speaking, experts agree that the best SPF is the sunscreen you actually use, and beauty editors have strong opinions on the best products on the market. Read on to find out what these seven beauty experts have rated the best sunscreens under £20.

Beauty Pie Featherlight UVA/UVB SPF50 Sunscreen + Primer, £13.50

"While I appreciate the ultra-soft, second-skin effect that silicone SPF provides, my oily skin usually doesn't allow for silicone facial products. However, I'm willing to waive that rule and opt for Beauty Pie's Featherlight SPF50 Sunscreen , it strikes the perfect balance between smoothing and hydrating. It leaves skin glowing without feeling greasy or sticky. What do I love most? It’s just as beautiful under makeup as it is on its own. My SPF range is almost entirely Made up of super high-end formulas (I'm a skincare snob, what can I say?), but this stuff checks all the boxes. It's lightweight, non-irritating, and offers an impressively high level of protection."
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Sun Protection Facial Mist, £17

"I have oily, blemish-prone skin, so I find it difficult to balance SPF in my skincare arsenal. I want to protect my skin but avoid clogging my pores. If I don't choose a gel SPF, That's it." Spray or mist, La Roche-Posay Anthelios Sun Protection Facial Mist is the gold standard. It protects against UVA and UVB rays, the formula isn't sticky or greasy, and best of all, it doesn't leave a white streak. Effortlessly refreshed throughout the day, I can stay protected while keeping my skin hydrated. "
Altruist Facial Solution SPF50, £9.90

"In my opinion, Altruist is one of the most underrated sunscreen brands out there. The entire range is designed by Dr. Andrew Birnie, a UK skin cancer expert, and it's very affordable (in a large bottle, perfect for home and holiday). Special I like it." Mine is Altruist Facial Treatment Solution SPF50. It's super lightweight, perfect for makeup, and won't clog pores or irritate sensitive rosacea skin. The brand was founded to ensure everyone has access to sun protection. She supports charities that work with children with albinism in Tanzania, protecting them from the harsh sun and reducing their risk of skin cancer. "
Escentual SPF 50+, £8.95

"I love Escentual Sunscreen SPF50. The formula is super hydrating and keeps my normal to dry skin hydrated all day long. Plus, whether I use it alone or under makeup, it makes my skin incredibly glowy Confident glow. As a black woman, I'm happy to report that it doesn't leave a white cast, which is actually my top priority when looking for an SPF. Escentual has also decided to launch its own sunscreen program for kids. As The retailer has donated more than 20,000 units of sunscreen to UK schoolchildren as part of a buy one, give one scheme."
Bondi Sands Unscented Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+, £7.99

“I love Bondi Sands Original Unscented Facial Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+. and Bondi Sands Hydra UV Protect SPF50+ Body Lotion. Both are super cheap. The Hydra version has a moist texture when first applied, but dries clear and doesn’t leave a shiny residue Appearance. The original sunscreen is just as good. It moisturizes the skin, doesn't cast a white cast or make you glowy, but it does give you a glow."
Garnier Ambre Solaire UV Anti-Aging Facial Cream SPF50 Tube, £12

"I find all Garnier facial sunscreens to be very good and work well under makeup. The consistency is super light, non-comedogenic (less likely to clog pores), absorbs into the skin almost immediately, and doesn't feel overly shiny or greasy. Its ability to easily fit into any daily routine without affecting makeup is a winner."
Garnier Ambre Solaire Super UV Anti-Dark Spot Anti-Pollution Facial Treatment SPF50+, £12
"When my friends ask for recommendations, I highly recommend them to buy this SPF sunscreen because it's 1) affordable and 2) really, really good. The liquid formula makes it perfect for use as a makeup base, but it never Leaves the skin. The skin feels too slippery - this is a result of people with oily skin not being able to absorb the product as quickly. It's also hydrating (thanks in part to containing hyaluronic acid) and is non-comedogenic, meaning it won't clog The pores of your skin. This is especially important if you're prone to acne. All of these cost under £15, sometimes even less if paired with boots. A piece of cake."

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