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Over-the-top SPF sprays: The new sun creams you spritz on after you’ve done your make-up

By now the sun protection message has been heavily hammered home. Most us know we should be applying half a teaspoon of sun cream to our faces every morning — if only because most signs of ageing, such as wrinkles and pigmentation, are down to sun exposure.

But this initial protection only lasts if you regularly reapply. Most dermatologists recommend you do so every two hours, though who can honestly say they do? Once we’ve slapped a face of make-up on, we don’t then want to be slathering on white goo a couple of hours later, especially when said white goo requires a fair amount of rubbing in, waving goodbye to that expertly applied foundation.

As a result, we’re not nearly as protected as we should be when we nip out for an alfresco lunch or quick walk.

The latest formulations to hit the shelves are sprays that are specifically designed to be applied over a finished face supposedly without compromising your make-up. Claire Coleman tests how the products work (stock image)

Fortunately, suncare brands have cottoned on to this and the latest formulations to hit the shelves are sprays that are specifically designed to be applied over a finished face supposedly without compromising your make-up.

Could these new-wave sprays replace under-make-up suncream? ‘In theory, spray sunscreen can be the only form of SPF you use — but only if you apply enough,’ says Dr Sonia Khorana, an NHS GP and community dermatology doctor. ‘Although they’re easy to apply, it’s much harder to know if you’ve put on the correct amount as you need a lot more than you think. You need to apply enough to make your skin glisten.’

As a result, she recommends using a cream or lotion first and topping up with a spray.

But will they leave you with protected, and flawless, skin or send your make-up sliding off your face? We put the new over-make-up sprays to the test to see how they measured up . . .

AUSSIE EXPERTISE

Naked Sundays Hydrating Glow Mist SPF50+ (£34 for 100ml, beautybay.com)

According to Claire, the Naked Sundays spray is fresh and fruity and leaves skin looking dewy afterwards

According to Claire, the Naked Sundays spray is fresh and fruity and leaves skin looking dewy afterwards 

This was the only spray we tried that was a pump rather than an aerosol, meaning the SPF is not being diluted by any propellants.

So as long as you are applying enough (and aren’t doing it in windy conditions — it’s recommended to spray all of these indoors, otherwise the product can simply blow away), you should get the stated SPF 50 coverage.

It smells fresh and fruity, thanks to extracts of kakadu plum and watermelon, and also contains hyaluronic acid to help keep skin looking hydrated. The fine mist leaves you looking dewy rather than greasy and, while it’s expensive, it’s Australian, and those Aussies really know their sun protection.

NOT-SO-SETTING

Kate Somerville UncompliKated SPF50 Soft Focus Makeup Setting Spray (£36 for 100ml, katesomerville.co.uk)

Claire says that the Kate Somerville product seemed to make the foundation on her skin separate instead of set her make-up

Claire says that the Kate Somerville product seemed to make the foundation on her skin separate instead of set her make-up

This product gets rave reviews but, even after shaking furiously and spraying from the recommended eight to ten inches, I ended up with globs of yellow all over my face and it seemed to make the foundation on my skin separate. The lavender fragrance was lovely and fresh, but it appeared to do the very opposite of setting make-up.

BEST ON A BUDGET

Garnier Ambre Solaire Over Makeup Super UV Protection Mist SPF50 (£8 for 100ml, Sainsbury’s)

If for you, as for many of us, the smell of Ambre Solaire is the smell of summer, this hydrating spray (it also contains hyaluronic acid) might disappoint. The scent isn’t unpleasant, but it’s not the classic.

As with others, it clung to any fine hairs on my face, but dried down nicely. For the price — it was the cheapest of all the products we tried — it is a really good option.

FOR SENSITIVE SKIN

Ultrasun UV Face & Scalp Mist SPF50 (£20 for 75ml, ultrasun.co.uk)

Claire says that the Ultrasun product is water resistant and has no alcohol or fragrance in it, meaning it may be a better choice for sensitive skin

Claire says that the Ultrasun product is water resistant and has no alcohol or fragrance in it, meaning it may be a better choice for sensitive skin

While many products that we tried left fine droplets clinging to hairs on the face — whether eyelashes, eyebrows, or peach fuzz — this one seemed to leave more pronounced white drops.

Shaking the can well and allowing the product to dry before gently dabbing at the affected areas seemed to help.

Unlike other sprays, there’s no alcohol in this formulation, and no fragrance either, so it might be a better choice for sensitive skin, even though the finish isn’t as matte as others we tried. It’s also water resistant, which most of the others are not.

MOST MATTE

Bondi Sands SPF 50+ Fragrance Free Sunscreen Face Mist (£8.99 for 79ml, bondisands.co.uk)

Claire says that this product was the closest to giving the skin a matte finish after it dried and initially has a chemical smell to it which disappears

Claire says that this product was the closest to giving the skin a matte finish after it dried and initially has a chemical smell to it which disappears 

While none of the products that we tried actually gave skin a matte finish — you will have to use powder over the top — this came closest after it dried. It is fragrance free, which means it initially has quite a strong chemical smell to it. But that soon disappears and it seems to leave makeup intact too.

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