Best suncream for problem skin

Creme de la suncream (… if you have problem skin: From eczema to acne, the lotions that claim to protect YOUR sensitive condition



22:43 GMT, 23 June 2012

Trying to pick out a suitable sunscreen for you and your family is tricky enough when faced with shelves crammed with options – but what about for those who already have skin problems

According to the British Skin Foundation around eight million Britons suffer with some sort of skin disease such as eczema or acne, a number which is growing each year.

A 2009 NHS study found that eczema cases had increased by 40 per cent in four years and although experts are yet to discover the reason behind the dramatic rise; detergents, diet and even over-cleanliness have been blamed.

Here, experts Professor John Hawk, President of the European Society for Photodermatology, and determatologist Dr. Sam Bunting, give their verdicts on some of the more specialist sunscreens which will not exacerbate underlying skin conditions.

Skin deep: Taking care of problem conditions - such as eczema and rosacea - can be a job in itself. But it's even more important in the sun

Skin deep: Taking care of problem conditions – such as eczema and rosacea – can be a job in itself. But it's even more important in the sun


This condition sees patches of skin become rough and inflamed. Almost all cases of sensitive skin are suffering from some form of eczema according to Professor Hawk: ‘Eczema is caused by a combination of being genetically more prone to allergy as well as having more permeable skin so that chemicals in products soak in to cause irritation.’

Because of this, eczema prone skins tend to react less to physical sunscreens that use tiny particles of metal oxide that sit on top of the skin, such as titanium dioxide. The formulation needs to be emollient too as porous skin loses moisture more easily.




COST: 14.49 for 100ml,

WHY Hawk says: La Roche Posay is known for being formulated for even the most intolerant skins, so even though this uses a chemical sunscreen the chances of a reaction are low.

Always do a patch test first though. The high SPF will prevent sensitive skin burning and the lotion is non-greasy yet moisturising. You can get this on prescription.

DOWNSIDE: Not a cheap option if not on prescription.

PRODUCT: Ultrasun very high 50+ ultra sensitive extreme formula (above left)

COST: 16.69 for 100ml,

WHY Hawk says: A very high SPF is obtained from less irritating titanium dioxide. It is also free from perfumes and water-resistant too.

DOWNSIDE: Quite expensive and despite the lower incidence of reactions, mineral sunscreens can dry out eczema-prone skin.

PRODUCT: Nivea Pure & Sensitive Sun Spray + Aloe Vera SPF 30

COST: 14.96 for 200ml,

WHY Prof Hawk says: The SPF is relatively high – I personally would not recommend using lower than this in high summer. The formulation is free of perfumes, colourants and preservatives, is easy to apply and is affordable.

DOWNSIDE: The light spray is pleasant but be sure to apply liberally and regularly for adequate protection. At three stars the UVA rating could be higher too.


This poorly understood skin condition affects roughly 620,000 Britons. Symptoms include facial flushing, spots, stinging and persistent redness of the face. Over time small blood vessels can become visible and in the most severe cases skin can thicken and swell. It is not known what causes the condition although blood vessel abnormalities and an overgrowth of bacteria in the gut has been suggested as a reason. There is no cure for rosacea, but there are treatments to control symptoms.

‘Most people can eradicate the condition by taking antibiotics, although sufferers will be prone to relapses,’ says Prof. Hawk.

To prevent a flare-up avoid triggers such as stress, hot drinks, spicy foods and in particular exposure to strong sunlight.



PRODUCT: Avene Antirougeurs Jour Moisturising Emulsion SPF 20 (above left)

COST: 13.05 for 50ml,

WHY Prof Hawk says: This is a light, non-greasy moisturising cream teamed with subtle green pigments to neutralise any mild redness on the face. Avene formulate their products for sensitive skin so the chance of reaction is small.

DOWNSIDE: Not cheap and the SPF could be higher, so be sure to reapply frequently.

PRODUCT: Clinique Targeted Protection Stick SPF 35 (above right)

COST: 6g 16.00

WHY Prof Hawk says: Whilst this is not pigmented or marketed towards those with rosacea, this high SPF stick is useful for applying to areas such as the nose and cheeks that can be prone to burning and rosacea flare-ups. One stick should last a long time and it is easily portable.

DOWNSIDE: Consistency is quite greasy.

PRODUCT: Eucerin Redness Relief Daily Perfecting Lotion SPF 15

COST: 15.50 for 50ml,

WHY: Contains a stronger green pigment than the Avene cream and is very lightweight and easily absorbed.

DOWNSIDE: The SPF is not high enough to guarantee protection in summer. Use as a regular moisturiser and top up with additional sunscreen if you plan on spending any length of time in the sun.


Acne causes spots to develop on the face, back and chest. It is common particularly during adolescence when hormonal changes trigger the excess production of an oily substance called sebum. This can block the skin’s pores and become infected by bacteria that usually live harmlessly on the surface of the skin.

Symptoms include blackheads, whiteheads and in the worst cases inflamed pustules that can cause severe scarring.

‘Acne cannot be cured, but it an be controlled by keeping the skin clean with a gentle facial wash, using an oil-free, non-comedogenic (non-pore-blocking) moisturiser and taking antibiotics if necessary,’ says Prof. Hawk.

Ultra Defence

Nivea Sun

PRODUCT: Banana Boat Ultra Defence SP30 Ultramist

COST: 11.99 for 100ml,

WHY Prof Hawk says: This ultra-light aerosol spray has a good SPF and is not greasy at all. You can use it at awkward angles too making it easy to cover your own back. Also suitable for the face.

DOWNSIDE: Whilst aesthetically it might be preferable to wear a clear sunscreen, it could be difficult to see how much you have applied and where to.

PRODUCT: Nivea Sun Invisible Protection Spray SPF 30

COST: 9.37 for 200ml,

WHY Prof Hawk says: Another clear spray with a good SPF that does not feel oily and leaves an invisible finish. Affordable too.

DOWNSIDE: Although it uses a spray pump, it is not an aerosol so it is more difficult to apply on areas such as the back.

PRODUCT: Dermalogica Oil-free block SPF 20

COST: 27.90 for 50ml,

WHY Prof Hawk says: This oil free sunblock leaves a matte finish without leaving a powdery residue, preventing summer-induced shine.

DOWNSIDE: The SPF could be considerably higher and the price is high.


During a child’s early years the skin has not yet fully developed. For this reason, children under three should not be left in direct sunlight and a sunscreen should still be applied to areas that are not covered by clothing. Only a physical sunscreen should be used on toddlers because, like that of eczema sufferers, their skin is very porous.

‘As the child grows older and spends more time in the sun, parents must remain vigilant.’ says Prof Hawk. ‘A great number of cases of malignant melanoma are caused by childhood burning under the age of 10, Wearing loose, opaque clothing; avoiding the midday sun and wearing a high SPF is the best way to prevent this occurring. ’

Ambre Solaire


PRODUCT: Sudocrem Sunscreen Mousse SPF 50

COST: 12.43 for 150ml,

WHY Prof Hawk says: The mousse has a high SPF with a four star UVA rating, is easy to rub in and I imagine it would soak into nooks and crannies easily. Children would find it fun using the product too which would make application easier.

DOWNSIDE: Applying a mousse might make it easier to apply less than needed, so be sure to apply liberally.

PRODUCT: Garnier Ambre Solaire Resisto Kids Coloured lotion SPF 50+

COST: 12.99 for 200ml,

WHY Prof Hawk says: ‘The lotion goes on easily and has a very high SPF. The bright colour makes it easy to see where it has been applied too – ideal if children are applying it themselves during a school trip for example.

DOWNSIDE: Whilst it is good that the cream has been reformulated to be even more water-resistant, do not rely on this as a means of applying less frequently. Reapply every hour on children.

PRODUCT: Soltan Kids Rapid Cover Spray SPF 50+

COST: 11.99 for 200ml,

WHY Prof Hawk says: The product has a great SPF and a five star UVA rating, is very affordable and the spray action ensures easy coverage. The lotion absorbs quickly too so children won’t be left with any uncomfortable residue.

DOWNSIDE: It can be easy to under-apply spray sunscreens.


Summer outdoor activities can lead to hot and sweaty skin, more prone to burning as the sunscreen slips off.

Jason sunblock


PRODUCT: Avene Very High Protection Very Water resistant SPF 50+

COST: 13 for 50ml,

WHY Prof Hawk says: This is ideal for even the fairest, most sensitive skins because of the high SPF. It is also very water-resistant so ideal for those who want to swim or be very energetic on land.

DOWNSIDE: Given that people expose more of their body when doing sport, this product might not last very long.

PRODUCT: Jason Sport Natural Sunblock SPF 45 (above left)

COST: 11.99 for 113g,

WHY Prof Hawk says: This mineral sunscreen is affordable, has a high SPF, is easy to see when applied and is sweat and water-resistant.

DOWNSIDE: It leaves a slightly white residue.

PRODUCT: Sun Pass Outdoor Expert SPF 30 (above right)

COST: 19.39 for 150ml,

WHY Prof Hawk says: The formulation is water-resistant and has a decent SPF. The spray application makes for easy, quick application and the texture is light and non-greasy.

DOWNSIDE: As with all sprays make sure you apply it liberally and regularly.


A new thriving sector in the suncare industry claims to offer extra protection to those who live in polluted cities.

‘This new genre of sunscreens claims to provide added antioxidants which counteract the effects of the sun’s UV rays and pollution in the air,’ says Dr. Sam Bunting.

‘But I’m yet to be convinced of their efficacy in terms of counteracting the effects of pollution as the levels of antioxidants included may not be high enough to make a significant difference.

There is also the theoretical possibility that adding an extra element to sunscreens may compromise the stability of the filters in the sunscreen, making them less effective over time. The essential thing to do if trying to prevent skin damage is to avoid the sun.’


Clinique Super City Block

PRODUCT: Clinique Super City Block SPF 40

COST: 16 for 40ml

WHY Dr. Bunting says: The formulation is oil-free and oil-absorbing making it ideal for summer skin. Even if you don’t normally have oily skin, the hot weather can make you sweat and look shiny. It provides broad spectrum cover, it’s mineral-based and the texture makes it an ideal base for makeup. Added liquorice is useful in calming hyper pigmentation.

DOWNSIDE: While the addition of plant extracts which function as antioxdants may provide an extra level of protection it would be good to see the scientific proof.

PRODUCT: Supergoop City Sunscreen Serum SPF 30

COST: 16 for 20ml,

WHY Dr. Bunting says: The high SPF teamed with lightweight texture makes it ideal for oily skin. It also contains Vitamin E, an antioxidant and humectant (water-attracting) and Vitamin B5 for non-greasy moisturisation.

DOWNSIDE: Could cause problems for those who are irritated or allergic to chemical filters.

PRODUCT: Skinceuticals Brightening UV Defence SPF 30

COST: 30 for 90ml,

WHY Dr. Bunting says: This non-clogging oil-free sunscreen contains Mexoryl XL and SX, octinoxate and titanium dioxide for great broad-spectrum cover.

Despite it containing high levels of physical sunscreen it doesn’t leave any white residue and actually provides a flattering, luminous primer effect. HyperBright complex contains mint and maize extract, which helps prevent the development of age spots by reducing the over-production of melanin in response to sun exposure.

DOWNSIDE: It is a great product but relatively expensive.


Ensure your sunscreen has both UVA and UVB protectionUVB rays cause the immediate damage – or tanUVA rays cause ageingBoth can cause cancerUVB damage is prevented by using a high SPF productUVA damage is prevented by a using product with a star rating between three and fiveApply
sunscreen as a ‘base coat’ 20 minutes before exposing the body to
sunlight. Reapply soon after going in the sun to ensure the whole body
is covered
Tips for safe sunbathing
As a general
guide use a teaspoon for each of the arms and face and two teaspoons for
each leg, the back and the front of the bodyReapply regularly, around once every two hours or more frequently if you are active or very youngMany
sunscreens claim they only need to be applied once, but Prof. Hawk
advises that relying on such a cream can be dangerous as daily
activities can cause it to rub offBuy a new sunscreen each year as ingredients can deteriorate over time leading to poorer protection.