Best SPF moisturisers 2022 for simple, everyday protection

Protecting your skin from the sun is important at the best of times, but as we head into spring it’s even more vital. Using the best SPF moisturiser on a daily basis is such an important step in your skincare routine.

As well as the well-known risks of skin cancer, the sun is also one of the biggest contributing factors to skin ageing. Why? Because the sun damages your skin and causes inflammation – and we’re not just talking about sunburn. As Paula Begoun, founder of cult skincare brand Paula’s Choice explains: ‘Inflammation destroys the structure of our skin.’

So, if we want healthy and youthful-looking skin, then we really must protect it from the sun. Every. Single. Day. (Yes, even in winter. Yes, even while working from home.)

Incorporating a decent daily sun protection regimen can be tricky, but by adding this essential SPF to one of the best moisturisers you’ll be protecting your skin every day, without having to worry too much about it.

SPF moisturiser vs facial sunscreen: what’s the difference?

First things first, let’s address a common confusion: the difference between SPF moisturisers and a separate facial sunscreen.

In short, an SPF moisturiser is great for a very basic level of defence against sun-related damage. Protecting against the sun isn’t its only function, as it’s also doing the job of moisturising, too. Think soothing dryness, fighting discolouration, in the same vein as a brilliant hyperpigmentation treatment, and diffusing the appearance of wrinkles. If you’re feeling a little lazy, travelling and trying to keep products to a minimum or just one of those people who fails to remember to apply your SPF, then these are a good option.

A facial sunscreen, on the other hand, only has one job: protect the skin on your face from the sun’s rays.

SPF moisturisers are ideal for the autumn and winter months when the sun isn’t as strong. You should wear an SPF every day, even if it’s cloudy and overcast, as UVA rays can still permeate cloudy skies and windows. So, good luck coming up with excuses as to why you’re skipping it.

Come the summer (and of course any holidays to sunnier climes outside of that time), an SPF moisturiser isn’t enough protection and you will need to double up. This is when you need to get your hands on the best facial sunscreens. You’ll also need to wear one of the best sun creams on top of your SPF moisturiser if you are sunbathing or outside for prolonged periods of time.

‘Many people believe that having an SPF in their moisturiser will suffice,’ says consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Kluk. ‘But, according to the British Association of Dermatologists, moisturiser with an SPF will only help protect you against small amounts of UV exposure – for example, when you walk to the car.’

What these moisturisers won’t do is provide the same degree of sun protection as the best facial sunscreens, especially for longer periods of UV exposure. It’s true that SPF in a moisturiser is tested the same way as SPF in sunscreen – so technically speaking, an SPF 30 moisturiser formula will offer the same level of protection as a facial sun cream with an SPF of 30. However, it all comes down to the application.

‘To achieve the SPF on the label, you would have to apply at least half a teaspoon to the face, which people rarely do,’ says Kluk. Think about the way that you apply your usual moisturiser; you don’t slather on a thick layer that thoroughly covers your face and neck in the same way you would do sun cream before heading to the beach.

‘What’s more, SPF moisturisers are less likely to be rub-resistant and water-resistant. For these reasons, they won’t offer the same level of protection as the best sun creams,’ the doctor adds.

It’s also worth noting that moisturisers containing an SPF don’t always contain protection against UVA rays, either. ‘As a result, they will not protect against UV ageing in the same way as a broad-spectrum sunscreen would,’ stresses Kluk.

Another essential suncare step is reapplication. So once you have applied either you moisturiser with an SPF or a facial sunscreen, the British Skin Foundation recommends that you top up every two- hours. That’s tricky if you’ve got a full face of make-up, which is where the best spf to apply over make-up comes in.

However, having an SPF in your daily moisturiser is never a bad idea. Because on those days when you’re working from home or it’s cloudy out, that added bit of daily defence is needed.

Here’s our pick of some of the best SPF moisturisers…

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