April 21, 2011

Best and Worst of Suncreams

I presume I'm not alone in having to pick my jaw up off the floor every morning when I open my curtains and see that yet another sunny day is upon us here in the country that is renowned for its crappy weather? Not that I'm complaining. Far from it in fact. I'm a sun fiend and I will happily lie there for hours on end just enjoying the feeling of being warm and toasty.

However, being that my ancestors were milk bottles, as I'm sure a lot of yours were too, I have to protect my skin. Surprisingly, I don't really burn but, for peace of mind and protection against melanoma, I like to slap on a bit of suncream if I'm going to be out in the direct sun for any major length of time.

However, suncreams are ten-a-penny and, it's hard to know what's good and what's bad so, here are my tried and tested picks of the bunch and, more importantly, ones to avoid like the plague.

The Best...

1. My favourite suncream of all time is Hawaiian Tropic. The range offers everything from lotions and creams, to sprays and oils. I specifically prefer the oils. Usually I would recommend running a mile from oil as a sun protection but, the Hawaiian Tropic range proffers SPFs ranging from 0 *shudder* to a reasonable 20.

I used both SPF 15 and SPF 20 in the Hawaiian Tropic oils for two weeks last summer in Lanzarote, where temperatures reached 40+C and I didn't burn once despite laying out everyday. The entire range smells deliciously coconut-y and, well, tropical (and exactly like my beloved coconut range from The Body Shop) and they also do amazing aftersun products which I recommend storing in the fridge for intense cooling effect.

Hawaiian Tropic isn't readily available in Ireland which is a pain. I know some chemists stock a pared-down range but, your best bet is to find an online stockist. Their own online store does international delivery which is handy and you have access to the entire range at dollar prices.

2. No-Ad suncream is another amazing range. The name means "Not Advertised" and so, you don't pay crazy prices. In fact, you can obtain a huge 500ml bottle for €15-€20. This is sold readily on the Continent and in drugstores across the USA and, if you're lucky, some Irish chemists do carry the range or can at least order it in for you. It's also available to order on Amazon.

The range is primarily lotion-based but, they do carry low SPF oils for those who like to get crispy fast! SPFs generally range from the low digits to a whopping 50 which will protect even the palest of people. My sister is very susceptible to burning and swears by this brand as offering total protection.

3. The Soltan range by Boots is one that I wholeheartedly stand by. It offers an amazing range of products, usually with amazing deals i.e. 3 for 2. You can find pretty much any consistency and application type you desire as well as covering the whole SPF spectrum. They also offer mini, handbag-friendly sized products to ensure you're constantly protected.

I've tried both the Soltan sun range (yellow) and the snow range (blue) and, would happily put my name to both. Being that this is a Boots brand, it is a lot more accessible than No-Ad or Hawaiian Tropic which may be a clincher for some of you.

The Worst...

1. I probably should have known better but, the one time I got badly sunburnt was using a, ahem, Tesco suncream. I was camping with my boyfriend and some friends and, well, who knew Tralee had summers like Trinidad?! I had covered myself from head-to-toe with Tesco's SPF 30 but, I got scalded. My limbs seized up, I was shivering. I presume it was a mild sunstroke so, needless to say, I advise avoiding this at all costs just to be on the safe side!

2. No one I know has ever had a good experience with those aerosol suncreams like those offered by Ambre Solaire and Nivea. I find that it's virtually impossible to get a good coating everywhere and the majority of it seems to end up on the floor/counter/mirror. Same goes for those sprays-on-clear types.

3. Malibu suncream may seem cheap and cheerful but, has been proven not to give the protection it promises. I could feel myself burning when I used this and quickly had to go and apply another brand all over my body. Suppose the moral of the story is don't scrimp on sun protection.

For a quick guide, the Daily Mail ran this comparison in summer 2009, outlining those suncreams they found to be the best and the worst.

I probably don't have to say this but, just to point out, I'm not a dermatologist or a scientist and the above is just based on my own experiences and opinions!

If you know of any other good or bad suncreams, leave them in the comments below!


S x


  1. I swear by Roc, La Roche Posay and Hamilton for suncream. I love them all so it just depends on if there are special offers on when I go to buy as to which one I get. With the weather we've been having lately I need SPF50 or I'll be burnt in minutes.

    I have the Kiehls Face and Body suncream, though I only use it for my face as it's giving me spots on my chest so I've stopped using it on my body. Which is weird because I had no problems with the bottle I bought last year, I wonder if they changed the formula slighty.

  2. I love Hamilton for my face! It's such a lovely suncream!

    It's quite possible Kiehls did change the formula as there was a bit of a hullabaloo last year about things not doing what they claimed to do and a lot of suncreams were either pulled or reformulated to match their claims...x

  3. I LOVE Hawaiian Tropics oil-free faces sunscreen. I live in Dubai and that is pretty much the one I use on my face every day, it's so light you don't even feel it on.

  4. Sinead-that would explain my reaction to it this year so, if it was one of the suncreams that had to be changed.

  5. I was even so careful not to go out in direct sun light. I would say play it safe and supplement it by wearing sun protective clothing.

  6. I actually used an aerosol sun cream by Roc when I was interrailling (30 degrees every day!) and it was amazing! That said, Roc's a good brand and I really don't burn easily..

    My fave is probably the Parasol Once A Day one.


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