Reviewed: The Game-Changing Facial Sunscreen for Problem Skin

Lisa Patulny

As a beauty editor who is evangelical about UV protection, I consider myself lucky to have access to dozens of sunscreen brands. Of course, it’s my job to trial what’s available on market so I can recommend quality products to you, dear reader, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say this access also benefits me personally. That’s because, it is very difficult to find a good facial sunscreen. Even when you work in beauty. (And especially if you’re aiming for SPF 50—which you should be, where possible.) This continual search for an exceptional formula means that when I do find one I like, I tell everybody.

Drumroll please… Allow me to introduce you to Dermalogica’s Age Smart Dynamic Skin Recovery SPF 50 ($90). Believe me when I say, I talk this baby up so highly I’ve turned four of my friends into enthusiastic converts. (If only I worked on commission…)

Designed to “help defend against the internal and external causes of skin ageing”, it’s essentially the lovechild of a broad spectrum sunscreen and anti-aging moisturiser. If you check the brand’s website, you’ll see it’s recommended for “mature or prematurely-ageing skin”. I have neither. Don’t let that put you off—I’d suggest it for combination-to-dry skin types, regardless of age. (Sensitive-skinned reviewer milhouserulz on Adore Beauty also rates it.)

The formula: It’s not super lightweight, in that it feels nourishing and keeps skin hydrated all day, but it’s definitely not heavy. I began using it in the midst of a breakout and it didn't irritate my skin or clog my pores. 

Containing what the brand calls “AGE Smart ingredients”, it helps prevent free-radical damage caused by sugar reacting with proteins in the skin. It is also said to regulate the effects of photoageing caused by UV rays. Like most other Dermalogica products, the scent is herbal and aromatherapy-like but not overpowering. It just smells nice. Not too girly, not too fragranced, just pleasant.

It isn't cheap, but I am convinced it’s worth the spend. To start with, you’re paying for a two-in-one, which makes the $90 price tag a little easier to justify. There’s also something to be said for investing in sunscreen. Ask any skin therapist or dermatologist what the number-one anti-ageing tool in their arsenal is and I would be shocked if they responded with anything other than sunscreen. An aesthetician once told me: “There’s no point slathering on wrinkle-fighting serums and creams if you’re also exposing your skin to the harmful effects of UV rays.”

Need more convincing? The thing about facial sunscreen in particular is that if you don’t like the texture, and if it doesn’t sit nicely under makeup, you won’t wear it. Doesn’t matter if it cost $10 or $100–you’re unlikely to put something on your face every single day if you don’t enjoy the way it feels and looks. To me, that makes it worth it. (Told you I should work on commission.)

For women who have acne-prone or super shiny skin, I love Ultraceuticals’ Ultra UV Protective Daily Moisturiser SPF 30 Mattifying ($69). The brand’s new Ultra UV Protective Daily Shield Mineral Defense SPF 50+ ($65) is also amazing for sensitive types. The texture is thicker (it contains physical as opposed to chemical blockers), but it sinks in pretty well after a couple of minutes.

Do you have a favourite facial sunscreen? Share your go-to with us in the comments below!

Opening photo: Visual Optimism

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