The Best Face SPFs For Every Skin Type

You will have heard it a million times before: wearing a face SPF every day is key to healthy – and healthy-looking — skin. A good sunscreen blocks the harmful effects of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, which wreak havoc on the health of our skin and its cells, leading to decreased collagen and elasticity, fine lines, pigmentation, and an increased risk of skin cancer if an SPF is not used. 

Historically, SPFs have been sticky and greasy, quick to clog pores, and prone to imparting a grey hue over darker skin tones. The good news is that now, thanks to much-improved formulas and innovative technology, there are plenty of facial sunscreens that protect your skin while also being a pleasure to use. Look for formulas that have both UVA and UVB protection, a minimum of SPF 30, and a formula that suits your skin’s specific needs.

Another factor to consider in your sunscreen selection is its effect on the environment. While the science around exactly how damaging sunscreen is to our oceans is inconclusive, what ingredients should we be looking out for to make the best choice possible? A marine biologist, Professor Cinzia Corinaldesi from the Università Politecnica delle Marche and Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at Skin55, provid a five-step guide.

Avoid oxybenzone and octinoxate

The main chemicals to watch out for are oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are commonly used in sunscreen to absorb UV light. “We [have] demonstrated that oxybenzone, octinoxate and enzacamene caused complete coral bleaching even at very low concentrations,” says Professor Corinaldesi. Octocrylene is another chemical that’s potentially harmful to marine life, with the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory compiling a handy list of the ingredients we should try to avoid. 

“Certain organic filters have been identified in water sources worldwide and there seems to be a suggestion that they are not easily removed by common wastewater techniques,” adds Dr Mahto. “Many of the filters have also been found in various species of fish worldwide — the impact of this is uncertain on the food chain.” 

Opt for a mineral sunscreen instead

Mineral sunscreens, which typically contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are thought to be less harmful to coral reefs in comparison to their chemical counterparts. “Mineral sunscreens rely on inorganic filters, which form a physical barrier on the skin surface,” explains Dr Mahto. 

It’s worth remembering, though, that some research suggests zinc oxide can also pose a danger to marine life. “Our studies indicate that zinc oxide nanoparticles are very harmful to marine organisms,” says Professor Corinaldesi, but adds that titanium dioxide with surface coatings — as found in Green People’s scent-free SPF 30 — “has a much lower impact on coral reefs”. 

Look for non-nanoparticles 

Particle size matters, too. While nanoparticles can be absorbed by coral reefs, research suggests that larger non-nanoparticles (a label you’ll see on lotions) are better for the environment. Ren’s Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 uses non-nano zinc oxide, while Stream2Sea’s sunscreens contain non-nano titanium oxide. “Consumers should look out for sunscreens that use non-nanoparticles because nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are expected to be more harmful to marine organisms than non-nanoparticles,” explains Professor Corinaldesi. 

Read beyond the ‘reef-safe’ or ‘ocean-safe’ labels 

The increase in demand for eco-friendly sunscreens means that a lot of brands are now marketing their products as ‘reef-safe’ or ‘ocean-safe’. This usually means they don’t contain oxybenzone and octinoxate — the two chemicals banned in sunscreen by countries such as Hawaii — but they could still contain other chemicals on the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory list that are potentially harmful to the environment. “Consumers should check the ingredients on the label of the products,” Professor Corinaldesi comments. 

Don’t forget the packaging 

Beyond the ingredients in sunscreen, it’s important to consider the packaging as well, with discarded sunscreen bottles contributing, in part, to the 8m tonnes of plastic that end up in our oceans every year. Brands such as Green People are using recyclable plant-based packaging made from sugar cane; a much more eco-friendly option compared to traditional plastic containers.

BEST SUNSCREENS TO SHOP RIGHT NOW:

Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily Defense SPF 50

Doubling up as both a moisturiser and an SPF 50 sunscreen, Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily Defense is an industry favourite, perfect for those with sensitive skin thanks to its oil-free, fragrance-free formula. It doesn’t leave a chalky residue either, making it a good choice for darker skin tones.

£30, available at Kiehls.co.uk.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Anti-Shine Sun Cream Gel SPF50+

If you suffer from blemishes, you may find that sun protection leaves your skin feeling greasy and prone to breakouts. La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Anti-Shine Sun Cream Gel is specifically designed for people with those concerns, offering a non-comedogenic, feather-light formula with a velvet finish alongside SPF 50 protection.

£17.50, available at LookFantastic.com.

Skinceuticals Advanced Brightening UV Defense SPF 50

With tranexamic acid and niacinamide, this is a supercharged SPF that’s as good at protecting skin from the sun as it is preventing and reducing discolouration. Put simply, it’s an excellent choice if you want an SPF that works really, really hard. 

£45, available at LookFantastic.com.

Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF 30

Making great SPFs its speciality, Supergoop’s latest launch is the Glowscreen SPF 30, a formula that offers the dewiest, most luminous glow, as well as an SPF of 30. With hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5, niacinamide, and protective cocoa peptides, it doubles up as a skincare staple too – and you’ll actively look forward to applying it each day.

£15, available at Cultbeauty.co.uk.

Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defence SPF 30

Non-toxic to marine life, this formula protects skin from UVA and UVB while offsetting free radical damage from the environment, thanks to potent antioxidants grape juice, sunflower shoot extract, and astaxanthin. 

£29, available at Cultbeauty.co.uk.

Avène Intense Protect SPF50+

Especially good for those with sensitive or reactive skin types, Avène’s Intense Protect is as light as silk and ultra-gentle. Not only does it contain the brand’s soothing thermal spring water and pre-tocopheryl, a powerful antioxidant, but it also houses TriAsorB, the first organic sun filter that absorbs and reflects UVA, UVB, and blue light. A must-try.

£20, available at Lookfantastic.com.

Kate Somerville UncompliKated SPF 50

Facialist to the stars, Kate Somerville also has this easy-to-use spray-on SPF in her product repertoire. Not only will it protect skin from the sun, but thanks to a light-diffusing silicone powder and hyaluronic acid in the formula, it helps to set make-up, mattify and hydrate skin. What’s not to love?

£32, available at Cultbeauty.co.uk.

Dr Barbara Sturm Sun Drops SPF 50

Offering a customisable approach to sun protection, Dr Barbara Sturm’s Sun Drops can be worn undiluted as a serum or a few drops can be added to your regular skincare for lightweight SPF 50 protection. It’s a high price point, but it goes a long way, and works well on all skin tones. 

£110, available at Cultbeauty.co.uk.

Shiseido Clear Suncare Stick SPF50+

Utilising Shiseido’s WetForce technology, which makes the formula work harder when it comes into contact with water or sweat, this Clear Suncare Stick is particularly brilliant for holidays, humid environments, or when playing outdoor sports. The handy stick packaging means it slots easily into your bag and can be rolled onto areas of the face and body as and when needed. 

£28, available at Cultbeauty.co.uk.

Ren Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 Broad Spectrum Face Sunscreen

A silicone-free formula that protects against all forms of light, Ren’s SPF offering is kind to the environment and forms a non-comedogenic barrier that fends off external aggressors. 

£30, available at LookFantastic.com.

Clarins UV Plus Anti-Pollution SPF 50

From blue and UV light to pollen and indoor pollution, this intelligent formula is packed full of antioxidants to protect the skin from all manner of external aggressors. Using organic mango leaf extract, it is delightfully lightweight in texture and promises eight hours of hydration while doing its protective thing.

£44, available at Selfridges.com.

Tan-Luxe Super Gloss Serum

For those who still want to look like they’ve spent an optimal time in the sun (even if that’s not the case), this serum delivers an immediate sun-kissed bronze glow while deeply hydrating skin (thanks to hyaluronic acid and squalane) and protects skin from the sun.

£35, available at Cultbeauty.co.uk.

Medik8 Advanced Day Total Protect

Great for all skin types, especially those prone to breakouts, this SPF feels like a moisturiser but acts as an all-bases-covered skin-protecting formula. From blue light to pollution, it’s got your skin covered for every eventuality, plus it contains multi-weight hyaluronic acid and skin-softening emollients to leave skin in excellent nick in its wake. 

£55, available at Feelunique.com.

Chanel UV Essentiel Multi-Protection Daily Defender SPF 30

When you live in a city, the effects of pollution on your skin are as much a threat as sun damage. Luckily Chanel has the solution in the form of the brand’s UV Essentiel Multi-Protection Daily Defender, which gives broad-spectrum SPF 30 or 50 protection as well as creating a barrier against pollution and free radicals.

£46, available at Allbeauty.com.

VOGUE article

Do Reusable Silicone Sheet Masks Actually Work?

A large glass of red wine, a steamy bubble bath, and a cooling face mask are all it takes to make a perfect night in my book. There’s just one (very big) issue: this sheet mask habit of mine isn’t exactly eco-friendly, thanks to all of those single-use materials. That’s why I was more than intrigued when several brands debuted reusable sheet masks in 2020. Nurse JamieSephora CollectionAvant Guard, and Honest Beauty have all created silicone versions of the masks we know and love — but these treatments don’t contain serum of any kind. They’re designed to be worn on top of skincare products of your choosing, then washed, stored away, and re-used infinitely, therefore cutting down on waste from cotton, plastic, hydrogel, and other materials.  

At the risk of sounding like Carrie Bradshaw, I couldn’t help but wonder: What difference can a reusable mask make in my skincare routine if it’s not infused with some sort of brightening or hydrating concoction? I want to make more sustainable choices, but will I have to sacrifice my favorite self-care activity in order to do so?

Nurse Jamie Face Wrap Skin Perfecting Silicone Mask

Buy at Revolve $33

Honest Beauty Reusable Magic Silicone Sheet Mask

Buy at Honest Beauty $15

After doing my full night-time skincare routine, complete with serum, moisturizer, and sometimes a face oil, I simply wear the reusable mask anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes, just as its instructions advise. It has loops on either side to hook around the ears, so it never slides around or falls off, even when I’m up and walking around. When I’m done, I simply take it off, wash it in the sink with warm water and soap, pat it dry with a towel, then place it back in its provided storage bag until next time.

What benefit does this serve beyond the benefit of the skincare routine itself? According to the people who created the Magic Mask, a combination of things — the first one being sustainability, which is what initially drove brand founder Jessica Alba to create it. 

“There’s all of this plastic that you throw away immediately… it’s almost like the sheet mask has become the plastic straw of 2021,” Alba tells Allure. “At the end of the day it’s just some serum and some moisturizer that you’re penetrating into the skin with the mask, so I thought wouldn’t it be great if we could have a more sustainable option?”

Beyond the environmental benefits, a silicone sheet mask can actually make your already-established skincare routine a little more effective, another reason Honest Beauty opted to create its iteration. “Often when we apply serums and moisturizers, most of the water evaporates during application, but our sheet mask helps to lock in product,” says Mallory McMahon, the associate director of research and innovation at Honest Beauty. “Using [exfoliating serums] with a [reusable] sheet mask may help boost efficacy; when used with hydrating products, it helps lock moisture in and decrease evaporation overall.”

Connecticut-based board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara concurs. “Essentially [a silicone mask] acts as a canvas to drive active ingredients [into the skin] as opposed to being the active itself,” she explains. “It works to protect the ingredients so they don’t rub off.” And because these silicone alternatives aren’t already infused with active ingredients, customers get the freedom of fully customizing their mask experience.

OK, so it might look like I’m wearing a piece of thin-sliced hickory ham on my face, but it’s worth it to cut down on sheet mask waste. 
–  Nicola Dall’Asen @Allure

It’s all possible because, as McMahon points out, silicone is a “chemically inert” material. I’ll let cosmetic chemist Ginger King explain exactly why that’s important. “[Chemically inert materials] will not have potential reactions to active ingredients,” she says. “You want to avoid any potential interaction of materials that may eat up the mask or leach out undesirable ingredients.” In other words, the silicone material of the mask ensures that you can wear it on top of any skincare product safely and without any adverse reactions. 

To make a long point short: Reusable silicone sheet masks are, indeed, effective — maybe just as much as traditional ones. I might not have seen a visible difference in my skin after I began using one, but you can take that with a grain of salt (my skin stays pretty stagnant regardless, thanks to genetics and a skincare obsession). The real benefit is that I can kick my feet up in my bubbly tub with the knowledge that I am not creating as much waste as I once did, so consider me a reusable sheet mask convert. 

If you, like many other folks across the globe, are trying to become more sustainable this year, this could be a great, albeit small, first step. Then, it’s time to ponder: What other aspects of your routine are due for an eco-friendly upgrade? 

ALLURE article

Pharrell Is Launching a Skin-Care Line Called Humanrace, Here’s All You Need to Know

The musician offered Allure exclusive details on the brand’s first three products and what prompted him to get into the beauty business. And, of course, when and where you can get your hands on them. Welcome to Artist Spotlight #27 series on my blog.

“Sometimes you need to cleanse your spirit. Sometimes you just need to cleanse your mind. Sometimes you’ve just got to get rid of some dead skin.” Pharrell William’s voice washes over its listener clean and cool, like himself. “Sometimes you’ve got to get rid of some bad habits. Sometimes you just need to be humidified, brought to life. Sometimes your spirit needs that.”

What our spirits might also need, Williams suggests, is three skincare products — cleanser, an exfoliant, and a moisturizer — from his forthcoming line, Humanrace, which launched November 25 on a website of the same name. 

Williams is famous for many reasons. Chief among them: his talent as a hitmaking producer and recording artist, able to unite the nation’s club revelers and six-year-old Despicable Me fans under one enchanting bass line. But his celebrity has also been accompanied with public fascination about his good looks, which have been on display for decades and somehow have not changed, unless they have somehow gotten more imperceptibly handsome with time?

Williams credits this to a love of skin care he has been cultivating since his mid-20s. On set, early in his career, he’d chat up models about the kinds of products they used, and he eventually sought out a dermatologist, Elena Jones, who has treated him since and who consulted on the line. 

“What struck me most about my first meeting with him was how committed to his skin and health he was at his age,” Jones tells Allure over the phone. “He wanted a routine to follow, and he’s dedicated to a skin-care regimen. He wanted explanations for everything.”

In Jones’ words, the three Humanrace products endeavour to fulfill the most basic requirements of a skin-care routine: prepare, repair, protect.

To prepare your face to receive skin care, you wash it. Jones and Williams created Humanrace’s Rice Powder Cleanser, which arrives dry. A dime-sized dusting of the stuff, mixed with water, produces a milky, lightweight emulsion that gently exfoliates using fruit alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) — compounds that dissolve the bonds between dead skin cells until they can flutter away like snowflakes into a passing breeze. (More of these to come later). Over half of the cleanser formula is kaolin clay, a common skin detoxifier mined for centuries for the manufacture of porcelain.

To repair your face from all of the general damage it experiences, you exfoliate, using a chemical peel like the Lotus Enzyme Exfoliant. Formulated foremost with glycolic acid — a favourite ingredient of Williams’ — at the relatively high concentration of 8%, the cream invites new and fresh cells to the skin’s surface.

The last product, the Humidifying Cream, is inspired by the downy atmospheres of the places Williams has lived and loved — his hometown of Virginia Beach, his now home of Miami, the mist-covered Japanese archipelago. It’s a dense and creamy blanket of moisture, formulated foremost with snow mushroom extract, a moisture-binding organic ingredient with roots in Chinese medicine that behaves similarly to hyaluronic acid. (According to board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman, however, the snow mushroom particle size is much smaller than that of HA, allowing it to absorb into the skin’s layers more easily.) And anyway, the cream has HA, too, plus soothing rice water and niacinamide. Williams is also preparing to launch a sunscreen!

A review of the full ingredients list for each product by an impartial cosmetic chemist reveals: They are formulated beautifully.

The packaging is grass-green in color and grass-green in sustainability: 50% of the plastic used to house Humanrace’s products comes from post-consumer recycled plastic, with only a small amount of virgin plastic used — and each product has a removable inner chamber that can be exchanged for a refill. The cap is embossed with a raised logo that is nice to run your fingers across — making it easy to ‘read’ in Braille.

To Williams, a skincare line is more than popping cheekbones and acid-based exfoliation: it’s a small, three-minute gesture of self-compassion.

The Humanrace skincare line, including the Rice Powder Cleanser ($32), Lotus Enzyme Exfoliator ($46), Humidifying Cream ($48), and Routine Pack ($100), are available at humanrace.com.

ALLURE article 1
ALLURE article 2

Innisfree’s Best-Selling Green Tea Serum Just Got an Eco-Friendly Upgrade

You can’t think about the major hitters in Korean beauty and skin care without having Innisfree bubble up to the forefront of your brain. Owned by conglomerate Amorepacific Group — whose other brands include Best of Beauty winners Sulwhasoo, Laneige, and Mamonde — Innisfree has a massive lineup of products and product lines centered around specific ingredients (orchid, soybean, and volcanic clusters, oh my) and was the first Amorepacific brand to open a U.S. flagship store. Located in New York City, the shop’s walls display close to 10,000 plants in an attempt to transport customers to Jeju Island (located off the coast of South Korea), where the green tea from one of its most popular product lines, is sourced from.

One particular green tea product, the Intensive Hydrating Serum, which the brand says is sold every five seconds around the globe, just received a big, eco-friendly upgrade. As part of Innisfree’s larger, ongoing “Less Plastic” initiative, the brand launched a jumbo-size Intensive Hydrating Serum Paper Edition that’s 100 percent recyclable and made with 52 percent less plastic than its predecessor. Ringing in at $39 and 5.4 ounces, it saves you $15 as opposed to buying two regular-size, 2.7 ounces bottles at $27 each. A great deal, if you ask me.

It’s still the same, beloved formula made with Jeju green tea extract and Jeju green tea seed oil, grown and extracted from Innisfree green tea farms, to hydrate and maintain skin’s moisture barrier.

To recycle your bottle, you simply remove the green paper label, remove the two halves of the molded paper shell, and then recycle the paper parts separately from the inner, soft plastic layer — as demonstrated below. Innisfree also offers an Empty Bottle Program, so customers who feel comfortable with stepping inside an Innisfree store can drop off their beauty empties and earn loyalty points. Or you can recycle your skin-care goodies through TerraCycle‘s zero-waste boxes.

Personally speaking, the Innisfree green tea serum has been a staple of mine over the years. The clear formula is impossibly lightweight and absorbs upon contact with my combination-leaning skin, so there’s no heavy, goopy feeling at all. I not only reach for this whenever my skin feels dry and tight during the winter, but it’s also fantastic for humid summer weather, as it plays very nicely under sunscreen and makeup. 

Lately, I’ve been upping my exfoliation routine at night to keep rouge pimples at bay, and this is the perfect follow-up product to keep my skin soothed, softened, and glowy. I’m not even a tea drinker but the leafy scent is so lovely — and while it’s definitely noticeable, it’s not overpowering. 

ALLURE article