Save our skin: Four of the best SPFs around

If you don’t use a SPF, your expensive skincare is a waste of time and money

In a sense, writing the first column on SPF of the year makes me feel a bit like my grandmother, who would constantly snatch you by the arm as you ran by to ask loudly if you’d washed your hands.

I always felt quite harassed by her interjections and can only presume that my finger wagging produces a similar feeling in you. However, needs must, so let's get the scary part out of the way upfront. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland.

According to the Irish Cancer Society, rates are increasing and expected to double by 2040. Why? It’s complex and multicausal, but paler Celtic complexions are more sensitive to sun exposure, burn more easily and need more protection. We generally do not adequately protect our skin from the sun, in part because we are so elated to see it when we do, and in part because the relative rarity of strong sun in Ireland makes us think (wrongly) that we aren’t at risk of sun damage.

SPF is important even when the sun is not beating down on us. If you invest in skincare and are concerned about premature skin ageing, but don’t wear SPF, I highly recommend flinging all of your expensive serums and toners into the nearest bin. Without use in tandem with SPF, they are quite simply a waste of time and money. This week, I’m focusing on SPF for the face, neck and ears.


Sun protection doesn't have to be expensive – it can be if you want to invest in a very luxuriant product, but the best SPF product I have used in all my time as a beauty editor is a recent launch – La Roche Posay Anthelios Age Correct SPF50 (€28 at At under €30, it doubles as a day moisturiser and – contrary to every facial SPF that has made the claim before – genuinely feels like one, while also tackling pigmentation and fine lines. It is absolutely excellent.

If it hasn’t already sold out, Garnier Ambre Solaire Anti-Dryness Super UV SPF50+ (€6 at pharmacies nationwide) soon will. I tried this facial SPF after spotting it on skincare expert Caroline Hirons’ Instagram. It is hypoallergenic, non-greasy, and contains glycerine, which drier skin will love. It also plays well under make-up. At this price point, you simply won’t do better.

Avene Intense Protect 50+ (€22.50 at pharmacies nationwide) is another great option from a brand that has always led in the category of SPF that doesn’t congest or disrupt sensitive skin.

This one is fast-absorbing, non-drying and is sweat- and water-resistant for up to two hours. It has a transparent nude tone that all skin types can wear.

Finally, for something a bit luxuriant at an SPF30 if you prefer it (anything under SPF30 is pointless for sun protection, and I prefer 50), try Dr Dennis Gross Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF30 (€52 at Gross is a leading dermatologist, and this oil- and fragrance-free SPF is highly effective without feeling heavy.

Product of the Week

The Handmade Soap Company Anam Poo Drops (€25 at