Spotlight on sunscreen

Did you know that sun protection falls into two camps? The physical camp, which contain mineral ingredients like zinc and titanium oxide to block UV radiation by sitting on top of the skin and deflecting harmful UV rays, and the chemical camp, which sits on the skin and absorbs UV radiation turning it into heat energy. I’m a massive advocate of the former and wouldn’t use anything else on my skin, especially as they don’t impact your hormone levels like some chemical versions can, nor do they release as many free radicals during use as chemical sunscreens do.

Here’s my edit of five of the best physical sunscreens…

  1. Alumier Moisture Matte SPF 40 in Sand

I would always recommend you go for a specific SPF with a tint, rather than a tinted moisturiser with added SPF to ensure you are getting the correct level of protection. I travelled with this recently to Antibes and my skin didn’t burn or get irritated (well not where I had put the sunscreen anyway). It looked even and velvety by day, and I left with a very subtle hint of a tan. This sunscreen comes in three colours – Ivory, Sand and Amber – so will suit many different skin tones. I found it great for myself as I have a slightly oily skin and it did a great job of absorbing that. It also contains caffeine, silybin and knotgrass extract, which are all antioxidants and help to protect the skin from further damage. Interestingly, knotgrass extract is active against both UV and infrared rays. Find out more at

  1. La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 30 Smooth Lotion

OK… this one snuck on the list because it is in fact a chemical sunscreen containing octocryene and Mexoplex (a blend of Mexoryl and tinosorb), but what do you do when you’re on holiday and have forgotten to bring your mineral sunscreen from home..?! Most local pharmacies probably won’t have much that fits the physical bill,  hence the inclusion of this La Roche Posay number which is easily found in most European pharmacies. This product is a real hit with beauty editors and bloggers. Why? Because it contains no preservatives, no parabens, no lanolin and is non-comedogenic. It protects your skin from UVA and UVB rays, is lightweight, fast absorbing and it doesn’t break me out. Find out more at

  1. Avène Eau Thermale High Protection Mineral Cream SPF 50+

A wonderfully high SPF, this is brilliant for very fair or sensitive skin types. It contains titanium dioxide as the active ingredient against UVA and UVB, it has no parabens and contains Avène’s signature spring water, should you be keen on that idea. It’s probably not great for darker skins, as I personally found it a touch chalky, but this is fine on me as I am quite fair. Find out more at

  1. Skinceuticals Mineral Matte UV Defence

If you have slightly dry skin, you are just going to love the slightly oilier texture, and the way it dries to a powder finish. If you tend to layer makeup over your SPF, then I suggest you give this a go, as it creates the perfect protective canvas for your base. It’s available with both tinted and untinted varieties. I prefer the tinted version, but then I am quite lazy when it comes to makeup and prefer not to wear any foundation normally. This will do a passable job of being your foundation if you have reasonable skin. It contains nano titanium dioxide particles meaning even the untinted version tends to be less chalky due to the smaller particle size. Find out  more at

  1. Jan Marini Antioxidant Physical Protectant SPF 30

Ideal for shine-prone skin and my second favourite sunscreen for personal use, this contains microscopic sponges to absorb any excess oil. The mattifying texture leaves skin smoother. It contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for sun protection,  green tea extract and coenzyme Q10 for further antioxidant help. Find out more at

What’s your favourite SPF? Tweet me at @TheLovely Clinic!

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