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10 best anti-ageing sunscreens

Here are the best products that protect your face from the elements, while helping you maintain your youth – what's not to love?

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Probably the single best thing you can do to protect your skin from undue effects of ageing as the years go by is to prevent too much exposure to the sun. 

A whole new generation of products has been developed that will take care of that, and much more besides, offering protection from all kinds of environmental hazards as well as the sun’s rays.

You can face the day with confidence knowing that sunshine is one thing you don’t have to worry about if you are wearing one of these creams.

All the products recommended here have high UVA and UVB protection as well as numerous other benefits, and absorb into the skin without leaving a trace on the surface.

Our testers had complexion issues that made some of them exacting in their requirements, such as dry, sensitive or oily skin, and all the creams featured emerged with flying colours. 

These creams provide impressive levels of protection without leaving a ghostly white sheen on your skin; they tend to work very well as moisturisers and primers, so can be used in conjunction with your normal routine, or on their own.

Mostly handbag friendly in size, they are intended to be re-applied during the day, as needed. The latest advice from leading dermatologists suggests re-applying sun cream every two hours.

The idea that your skin only needs protection for those two weeks by the sea is truly a thing of the past – these creams are perfect both for every day use and to take away on holiday as a companion to other body sunscreens.

Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart broad spectrum SPF 50: £55, Boots

DNA enzyme complex, anti pollution, antioxidant, hydrating shield – this one is pretty much a suit of armour in a tube. It seems to protect against almost everything that contributes to ageing skin.

In an eminently portable little tube, the delivery system is a pump which makes for easy application. The light fluid quickly absorbs, leaving the skin feeling primed and protected.

Our tester found that it was all she needed under her makeup at the start of the day, and it was equally effective when used to top up over her makeup as the day progressed.

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Temple Spa Life Defence Daily Environmental Protection SPF 25: £34.25, Harrods

Our tester, who spends a lot of her time out of doors in all weathers, loves this lightweight and moisturising cream. Offering a broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB damage, this sunscreen contains ingredients such as rocket, vitamin E and hyaluronic acid – formulated to create a protective barrier against skin-ageing and the effects of pollution, wind, central heating and air conditioning.

Not only that, but it is designed to help prevent the appearance of sun induced age spots. She has been using the cream every day, initially on top of her usual moisturiser, but now on its own, finding that it is gentle and easy to apply and absorbs instantly, leaving her skin feeling soft and giving her confidence that it is protected against the elements.

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Elemis Daily Defence Shield High Protection Sunscreen SPF 30: £46, John Lewis

This new product from Elemis is intended to combat environmental ageing, with ingredients specifically designed to offer broad protection against UVA/UVB rays and pollution.

As you would expect from this brand – with it’s mission statement “defined by nature, led by science” – it is free from artificial colours and parabens, and boasts coconut and jojoba amongst its ingredients.

Our tester loved the fact that it was completely fragrance free, cooling and un-sticky to apply, and in a compact and handbag friendly tube for re-application as needed during the day.

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Shiseido Urban Environment UV Protection Cream SPF 30: £31, SpaceNK 

Our tester found this to be a really effective primer – and it is so much more besides.

Particularly in hot weather, when you don’t necessarily want to layer too many products onto your skin, its triple role as moisturiser/primer/sun protection was massively welcome – as was the reassuring knowledge that it was protecting against skin-ageing UV rays, dryness and air pollution.

You can apply it to face, neck and body as a speedy one-stop protector, ideal for everyday use.

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La Prairie Cellular Swiss UV Protection Veil, SPF 50: £145, John Lewis

This absorbs into the skin with the greatest of ease, our tester found it excellent as a layer underneath makeup, but equally good over your makeup as a top up throughout the day, when it just absorbs all over again.

The hefty price tag is indisputable, but she found it an effective and lovely product which must have Tardis-like qualities, as the contents of the smallish tube was so long lasting.

Massive research goes into everything from these Swiss laboratories, this cream is designed to provide a veil of protection against burning UVB rays and ageing UVA rays.

It contains a liquorice based brightening complex which helps control melanin production and improves the skin tone.

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Chantecaille Ultra Sun Protection Primer SPF 45: £80, SpaceNK

This is a brilliant product that does a lot of things all in one tube – it’s a broad spectrum sunscreen that creates an invisible shield for anti-ageing protection, aims to prevent the breakdown of collagen and is a highly effective mattifying primer.

Our tester needed no further evidence of its efficacy than being asked if she had had some kind of luxurious facial treatment or procedure when she bumped into a friend while she was out wearing only the primer on her face (she had not).

The science bit includes stabilised sun filters that block both UVA and UVB rays, and, as with all Chantecaille products, it is infused with soothing botanicals such as lemon balm, cherry blossom and white tea extracts.

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Radical Skincare Skin Perfecting Screen SPF 30: £38, SpaceNK

Our tester was very pleased with the idea of a non-chemical sunscreen, incorporating light diffusing pigments to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and imperfections – though she was a little dubious at first as the cream is quite thick, a very pale pink and is quite shiny on application.

She worried that it might leave a ghostly white residue like a children’s sunscreen, but it actually settled on nicely with a matte look and satiny texture – it was also a good base for other make up.

It gave enough coverage to wear to the gym on its own, and, true to its promise, did not irritate her eyes after exercise induced perspiration.

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Clarins UV plus Anti Pollution SPF 50: £32.50, clarins.co.uk

Our tester is fair skinned and burns easily, so was pleased with the confidence of this targeted protection against UV rays, sun induced dark spots and pollution gave her, even on very hot and sunny days.

She found it non-greasy and easily absorbed, making her skin feel very soft leaving a natural sweet smell.

It is ideal for anyone who suffers from makeup melting shiny skin in hot weather. It is primarily designed for city use, but when she wore it on a trip to the seaside she felt it was acting as a buffer against wind and sea air as well.

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La Roche-Posay Anthelios Pocket Sun Cream SPF 50+: £7, Feel Unique

This got a real accolade from our tester, who said it was the first sun protection lotion she had ever enjoyed using.

As part of a range of broad-spectrum very high protection sun care, specifically formulated for sensitive skin, this was ideal for her.

She found it very easy to apply, leaving no residue on her skin, and long lasting – even in hot weather.

It contains thermal spring water, which is said to have an anti-oxidant effect, and acts to shield the skin from the harmful UV rays that cause sun induced pigment spots and premature ageing.

However high SPF the sunscreen that you wear, if you don’t reapply as often as you should you may risk accelerated skin ageing.

This very portable product, which can be popped in your pocket when you go out and is good value, practical solution to encourage convenient reapplication. 

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Nuxe Sun Melting Cream High Protection SPF 50: £17.50, uk.nuxe.com

This anti-ageing facial sunscreen is billed to be ideal for fair and sensitive skin. Our tester, who has both, found it to be a very pleasing product – it gave her confidence that she would not burn, even on very sunny days.

The predominantly natural ingredients are formulated to protect cells against dark spots and other signs of ageing. The cream is free from alcohol and parabens, and does not sink into the pores.

She loved the summery scent of sweet orange, gardenia and coconut, and found it was no hardship to apply it frequently.

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The verdict: best anti-ageing sunscreens

Elizabeth Arden is an all round winner, La Roche-Posay is a pocket sized bargain and Nuxe is highly effective and smells like summer.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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