SPF: the post-holiday breakdown

After the recent City SPF video I had quite a few questions about what products I would use to actually sit on a beach/go on a sunny holiday, so just before we left for the airport, I fired off these pictures of our lineup.

A few notes on my experience/surroundings:

  • We went to Greece for one week. Me, the Mr, Ava and Max. Four people of varying sizes and skin gradings on the Fitzpatrick scale. I would say we’re all comfortable 3s.
For your reference
  • I reapplied at least every hour, on myself and Max. Ava took care of herself and reapplied more often as she was in water 90% of the time.
  • The temperature was between 26 and 30 degrees daily (85 fahrenheit approx)

Left to right:

Vichy Ideal Soleil SPF 50 (spray) – this was Ava’s favourite by far for the body. It was empty by around Day 4. Very good. She’s extremely sporty and wanted a spray for ease. I supervised the first few applications to make sure she wasn’t cutting corners and after that she was fine. She didn’t burn on her body and I would definitely repurchase/recommend.
Available from FeelUnique.com and Boots.com

Sisley Super Soin Solaire Facial Sun Care SPF 30 – rather excruciatingly, this was Ava’s favourite for face. In the spirit of fully disclosing, Sisley sent this to me for review, and although it is absolutely beautiful, I winced at the price tag. If you can afford it, it’s lovely, if you can’t, don’t sweat it. (See what I did there?)
Absolutely no burn, no sting and great texture.

Available from Liberty and John Lewis

Clarins has been my choice of SPF for nearly 20 years. The smell of it alone reminds me of holidays and puts me in a good mood. I used the 50 spray on top of the 30 cream in some hard-to-reach areas and we all used the SPF50 (not pictured) for face for the first few days (we used it up) and then moved to the 30 around Day 4. The body products were similarly good, the spray being very handy for the kids and Jim and I both found it helpful for backs of legs, feet etc. The 50 spray was mainly used on Max, who had no complaints and did not burn at all.

Available from John Lewis and Nordstrom

Clinique make brilliant SPF products that are also fragrance-free. We had an issue with the packaging though. The lids on the larger body bottles kept popping open in transit. Luckily I am anal and pack SPF in ziplock bags so when we arrived to find one had opened and spilled out, it was just a case of cleaning the other bottles, not all our clothes. It did it again in our bags when we were out in the town, meaning we ended up only using it poolside because it couldn’t be trusted.

Having said that, the SPF in the bottles is so good that I would still recommend. Jim would only use the ‘little white one’ on his face and we had three body, which all got used. Brilliant, brilliant SPF with packaging that you need to sellotape. 🙂

Available in the UK from Clinique.co.uk and then Clinique.com for other countries. The new mineral sunscreens that we used seem to be sold out in a lot of places – you may have to hunt around for them.

Hair-wise, I’ve used Phtyo Plage since I was first trained in it in SpaceNK twenty years ago. Some old habits die hard. I gave Ava the one on the left, I used the one for ultra dry hair. Sprayed on hair liberally, although I generally only reapplied once more during the day, usually after lunch.

Available from Sephora and lookfantastic.com

I found the next three in Greece. I’ve loved Hei Poa ever since I first found it in Paris years ago, but this was the first time I bought the SPF. I loved it. The smell, the texture, not too oily, absorbs nicely and is not extortionate. Available on Amazon so probably in most countries.

You can’t talk about SPF without mentioning Lancaster. Lancaster has an almost iconic status in SPF land (certainly in Europe), but their distribution in the UK has never been organised very well and between pulling out of the country altogether years ago and then coming back far too quietly (I’d have been screaming it to the press), they have kind of slipped off the radar. Not in Europe however, every pharmacy in Paris carries pretty much the whole range and in super sizes (how rude).
The Dry Touch Gel SPF20 won ‘Best Packaging’ hands down on this trip. Soft touch tube, pump dispenser, no mess anywhere, and not runny. Excellent product, excellent packaging. The SPF15 Silky Milk Sublime Tan was used the last couple of days on holiday and although great as an SPF, it’s incredibly runny and the opening at the top is too large for the texture of the formula, leading to a lot of (entertaining) incidents with Mr Hirons swearing and asking us if we needed anymore SPF as he had half the contents of his bottle in his hand. Great product, annoying packaging.

Available on Amazon

After Sun:
Mixed results and reactions with these. The Clarins Creams were more popular than the Gel, and the Clinique Rescue Balm was easiest the nicest one to use. Calming, soothing and hydrating. The Clarins Facial After Sun stung at the end of the day so we switched to La Roche Posay Toleraine which I had luckily thrown into the case at the last minute.
The Toleraine was pretty much the perfect after sun. Used in the evenings before bed, the skin was left hydrated and nourished with no spots the next day. Also obviously a brilliant moisturiser for dry skins…

Clarins After Suns are available from John Lewis and Nordstrom
La Roche Posay Toleraine Ultra Nuit is available from Look Fantastic

*For those of you already asking – it all went in Max’s suitcase. He’s small, he only packs shorts and vests and even WITH the sun creams his case was 8kg.




The views expressed on this site are the author’s own and are provided for informational purposes only. The author makes no warranties about the suitability of any product or treatment referenced or reviewed here for any person other than herself and any reliance placed on these reviews or references by you is done so solely at your own risk. Nothing on this site shall be construed as providing dermatological, medical or other such advice and you are always advised to seek the advice of a suitable professional should you have any such concerns.