The face is unforgiving of sun damage, says Sarah Caden, who has five sun survivors
Avene Eau Thermale B-Protect SPF 50+, €17, pharmacies nationwide
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Many people find themselves to be sensitive to sun-protection products, but it shouldn't stop them seeking protection. Best advice is to go for the most natural ingredients possible, which can mean avoiding factors over SPF 50, which tend to be high in chemicals. Avene is one of the nicest brands for sensitive skin, and this tinted face product works well as a BB cream and a sunscreen. "A gorgeous texture, not at all greasy, and it didn't irritate my reactive cheeks," a panellist said.
Best Mineral Mate
Clarins Mineral Sun Care Fluid SPF 30, €23, Clarins counters nationwide
If you see the word 'mineral' in the name of a sun-protection product, it tends to mean that they favour mineral filters such as titanium oxide or zinc oxide, which actually block the rays from reaching the skin. They are also the ingredients that look white on the skin, but try patting in the product, rather than rubbing it, to reduce the white-mask effect. Mineral sunscreens are particularly good for sensitive skin on the face. "Smooths on really nicely and the white look fades quickly," one panellist said. "Lovely smell, too."
Best Light Magic
Chanel UV Essentiel Complete Protection Gel Creme SPF 50, €55, Chanel counters nationwide
Chanel has revamped its UV Essentiel, which turns it from a milky liquid to this, a light gel-creme. It has a nicely cooling feel on the skin, and absorbs quickly to a semi-matte finish. As well as its sun-protection credentials, it also boasts desert yeast extract, which Chanel claims reduces the impact of pollution and boosts the skin's natural moisture barrier. "In very warm weather, I could wear this instead of moisturiser," said a panellist. "A lovely texture and not at all greasy."
Best Creamy Kindness
Lancaster Sun Sensitive Delicate Comforting Face Cream SPF 50, €28, Arnotts; selected pharmacies nationwide
The orange-and-white Lancaster packaging would put one in mind of holidays, such is the extent to which it's branded on our brains. And it's not just about the packaging, the products are reliably good, and do what they say. This is exactly what the name suggests, a creamy face product that won't irritate. It also promises to protect against infrared and visible light rays, which can cause skin reactions. "Gorgeously rich, but wearable at home or on holiday," a panellist said.
Best Tinted Stick
Sisley Super Stick Tinted Sun Care SPF 50, €41.21, Brown Thomas Dublin and Cork; Harvey Nichols, Dundrum Town Centre, D16
Ease of use is part of the appeal of this product, as it's solid, rather than a cream or liquid. It's also tinted, so it operates much like a stick-foundation or concealer, and is great for using in sensitive spots, like under the eyes, or on the nose. It's also highly water-resistant and sweat-resistant, so you don't get the tint dripping down your face after a swim. "It's great for city or holidays, as the tint gives a bit of polish," said a panellist.
When health warnings about cigarettes fell on deaf ears with young smokers, a campaign was devised to appeal to their vanity. Smoking wrecks your skin, it went, with illustrations for greater impact.
A similar tack has been taken on sun damage, playing to our vanity, along with warnings on skin cancer, which we barely believe in. Sure how could that happen here, in dull Ireland? Of course, we're getting sun all the time, even in winter, in particular the UVA rays that neither tan nor burn us, but do age and wither our skin. Your face gets the worst of it, as it's always exposed. All-year protection is a must, but you know that. Which doesn't mean you like it. So with that in mind, we have five products that feel pretty, while offering both UVB and UVA protection.