‘Chemical sunscreen’ and ‘physical sunscreen’ are two phrases that will crop up a lot if you’re doing any research into SPF products. “Physical sunscreen works by creating a physical barrier between your skin and the sun’s rays and to a lesser degree absorb UV rays,” explains Mahto. “They use physical filters such as zinc or titanium, whereas on the other hand, chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun’s rays.” Whether a sunscreen is physical or chemical often dictates the texture of the formula—another good reason to try before you buy. For most people this will just be down to personal preference, but if you have acne-prone or sensitive skin, Mahto advises that a physical sunscreen with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide is usually better than one with chemical filters, which can lead to irritation.

Application is also key to ensuring that you have the right amount of sun protection. “Sunscreen is the last skincare product applied before make-up, and you should use about one-half a teaspoon of product to your face and neck,” explains Mahto. “This needs to dry for three to five minutes before applying foundation,” she adds. While no area of skin is more exposed than our faces, it’s important to remember to cover often neglected areas like the tops of our ears, our lips, and the back of our neck—I always wipe off my excess sunscreen on the backs of my hands, as they’re also more exposed than most people realise.

There are hundreds of daily SPFs on the market, with more and more launching every day, but if you’re after a truly modern and innovative SPF formula, I’ve rounded up my tried and tested favourites. There are a mix of physical and chemical formulas, but one thing they all have in common is a lightweight texture and an invisible finish. If you’re looking for the best daily SPFs of 2023, keep on scrolling.


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