Best SPF 30 Face Cream – We Put 7 To The Test

From Clarins to Soltan, which is worth your money?

We’re all well aware of the perils of sunburn and the importance of wearing SPF. But finding the right one for your skin type can be difficult, a lot of suncreams on the market are notoriously greasy, don’t absorb well and shift any carefully-applied makeup.

But wearing SPF keeps skin protected from the damaging UV and UVA rays. Dr Anjali Mahto, Consultant Dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic and author of The Skincare Bible, tells HuffPost the two main benefits of wearing SPF: “Firstly, suncscreen use will reduce the risk of cancer. Secondly, the sun’s rays are responsible for about 80 or 90 per cent of the features we associate with ageing, fine lines, wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity and pigmentation. Sunscreen is your best protection against premature skin ageing in a bottle.”

To help you narrow down your search for the best SPF 30 suncreams, we put seven different brands to the test.

Ultrasun High 30 SPF Face, Space NK, £20

Tested by Amy, Assistant Lifestyle Editor -3.5/5

“The liquid was quite thin compared to other sun creams I’ve used, not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. It didn’t have that dreamy suncream smell that reminds me of summer and holidays (you know, like the Nivea one has). My face was pretty greasy after application, but on a really hot day I get sweaty anyway so I wasn’t too bothered about this. If I was wearing makeup though, I can imagine it would be pretty annoying.

“It’s a pretty small pot for £20, but considering some larger sun creams don’t protect my skin as well, I’d probably fork out for it.”

Clinique SPF 30 Anti-Wrinkle Face Cream, Boots, £18

Tested by Vicky, Executive Lifestyle Editor

“The good news: this is a mineral sunscreen, which means it gives great protection. I head out for the day on holiday in Cornwall to walk along the seafront. We return 10 hours later, clutching fish n’ chips and wiping the day’s sand from our feet, and there’s not the slightest hint of rosiness on my face, despite my failure to reapply.

“The bad news: crikey this stuff is thick. Just getting it spread over my face is upsettingly hard work, and despite a spirited approach to rubbing it in, I’m definitely left with a bit of a ghostly pallor. (I’m white and my skin is pretty fair, so I have probably have the best shot of making it disappear – and it’s still noticeable.) Make up also sits a bit weirdly on top, not so much sliding about as just not quite blending properly.

“Great protection – but not sure I’d re-buy.”

Murad Essential C-Day Moisture SPF30, Murad,£65

Tested by Sara, Lifestyle Reporter - 3/5

“The first time I tried it without any makeup, I liberally applied it over my face and neck, before heading out on my bike to get a coffee. It smelt really lovely - a bit like chocolate orange - and had a lovely light and creamy texture.

“When I first applied it it was quite greasy but after about 10 minutes it had soaked in. The problem was that with this, my eyes began to sting so much that I literally couldn’t see – I had to walk my bike back while using my jumper sleeves to rub it out of my eyes. Very, very painful.

“Having learned my lesson I tried it again while on a weekend trip to Berlin. This time I applied it (avoiding my eye area), let it soak in for 10 minutes and then applied makeup. It was quite greasy but this was easily rectified by applying a transparent powder over my makeup to help it set - and as far as I could tell it did a perfectly good job at protecting my skin from the sun but the extortionate price lets it down and I’m sure you could find a cheaper version.”

Vichy Ideal Soleil Mattifying Face Dry Touch SPF 30, Boots, £16.50

Tested by Natasha, Lifestyle Reporter - 2/5

“I really wanted to love this sun cream but, alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Being someone whose skin tends to flake off, trialling a matte-effect sun cream probably wasn’t the best of ideas. Slathering it onto my face, it felt like all of the moisture was sucked from my skin and I ended up having to rub at my face pretty hard to remove white patches of residue where the cream just didn’t want to sink in.

“Putting makeup on top of it was a no-go, again due to the mattifying properties – I looked like I hadn’t moisturised in weeks. The cream did protect me from sunburn both in the UK and in Japan, where it was fiercely hot, and appeared to work all day without the need for reapplication. I would recommend this cream for someone with oily skin but for those who veer on the side of dry/crispy skin, steer clear at all costs.”

Clarins Dry Touch Sun Care Cream for Face SPF30, Feel Unique, £20

Tested by Louise, Lifestyle Reporter - 5/5

“While I’m well aware about the importance of wearing suncream, I’ve yet to find one that I like for my oily, acne prone skin that doesn’t feel greasy or ruin my makeup. I was pretty sceptical when I saw that this was a dry-touch formula that promised to rid me of a shiny face but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it.

“It dries down matte and absorbs almost instantly, without leaving my skin feeling chalky or my makeup patchy. It has a light summery scent but isn’t overwhelming which I appreciated, as fragrance is one of the biggest irritants for my skin. A little goes a long way and for a suncream that I actually like, protects my fair, Irish skin from sunburn and doesn’t feel like a slippery mess on my face is well worth the price tag.”

Avene Cleanance High Protection SPF30 Cream, Boots, £16

Tested by Rachel, Lifestyle Reporter - 4/5

“The Avène sun cream glides onto my face easily without the need for vigorous rubbing to blend and once it’s applied, it’s completely undetectable. I wear it every day over the long weekend and am pleased to report I don’t get burnt and my sensitive skin isn’t aggravated at all.

“The fragrance is barely there but pleasant; I’d prefer a boost of coconut to get me in the summer spirit, but I’ll take this over the medicinal smells you often get with sun cream for dry or sensitive skin any day.”

Soltan Face SPF30, Boots, £5.50

Tested by Nicola Slawson, News Reporter – 2/5

“This cream definitely has that familiar suncream smell, and it’s about as thick as the kinds I remember my mum slathering on me as a kid. But I thought suncream had advanced from those days, especially ones for your face. This one, however, feels decidedly retro.

“The main problem, aside from the thickness, is that it leaves my face looking really shiny – like I have smeared butter all over myself, which is not a good look. My face finally begins to look normal about an hour after applying but given I try to spend the maximum amount of time possible in bed in the morning, having to wait that long for the greasiness to go would mean getting up earlier. The cream may be cheap but it’s not worth sacrificing my beauty sleep for.”

We all work hard to earn our money – so it shouldn’t feel like hard work to spend it well. At HuffPost Finds we’ll help you find the best stuff that deserves your cash, from the ultimate lipstick to a durable iron to replace the one that broke (RIP). All our choices are completely independent but we may earn a small commission if you click a link and make a purchase.