Despite awareness around suncare skyrocketing in recent years, many of us are still guilty of viewing sunscreen as the reserve of warmer climes when in reality we should be wearing it every day, come rain or shine. Even if you are well intentioned in applying it each morning, facial SPFs have a bad rep for leaving a white cast, feeling cakey or causing breakouts, which can be off-putting.
Thankfully, skincare formulas have come a long way in banishing these stereotypes; now, every beauty brand wants in on the action. Fenty Beauty unveiled an SPF while it was still in its relative infancy as a brand, a move that was practically unheard of five years ago, while Aussie brand Ultra Violette has just become Space NK’s fastest selling SPF brand ever since launching in the UK in April.
Now, coveted beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury has entered the chat. The renowned celebrity make-up artist and founder of the eponymous line is no stranger to skincare science; despite launching what seems like an endless stream of beauty products, her formulas take years to perfect.
The brand’s latest endeavour certainly piqued our interest: a SPF 50 primer hybrid that claims to deliver radiance, blur imperfections and fight fine lines and wrinkles, all while creating the perfect canvas for your make-up. As with all Charlotte Tilbury products, these are ambitious claims, but Caroline Hirons, skincare guru and SPF advocate, is already a fan of the new formula, which is always a good sign.
So how did it fare on our own faces? We’ve spent the past month putting it to the test, considering how it looked and felt on the skin; whether it left a white cast; how it performed as a primer and, importantly, whether it encouraged us to wear SPF every day.
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Charlotte Tilbury invisible UV flawless poreless primer
Buy now £39, Charlottetilbury.com
First up, let’s talk about ingredients as there’s plenty to unpack here. According to Tilbury herself, the primer was years in the making as she worked with in-house scientists to fine-tune the formula. There’s a few hero ingredients that are used across the brand’s skincare line, including its “magic 8” complex, a blend of actives and oils that deeply nourish the skin; as well as hydrating hyaluronic acid and polymers that deliver an smooth, radiant finish.
But the star of the show is a breakthrough anti-ageing active called “collalift”. Derived from African mahogany tree bark (niche, we know), it acts as a protective shield, cocooning the skin while minimising pores, fine lines and boosting elasticity to leave skin feeling supple.
Unlike many other SPFs, the creamy formula blends effortlessly before imparting a subtle glow that’s not at all greasy. There’s no white cast or chalkiness either – in fact, if you told us this was a normal moisturiser or primer, we would believe you. We’d happily wear this on its own without make-up as the airbrushed, lit from-within-finish is really flattering on the skin.
Living up to its hybrid status, it has all the properties of a good primer too; the cream feels slightly tacky on the skin but this helps your base products stick and it successfully blurs pores while evening out skin tone. Our sensitive skin wasn’t irritated by this whatsoever and unlike with many other SPFs, it didn’t cause any breakouts during our testing.
We didn’t notice a huge improvement in the longevity of our make-up while wearing this product, but that’s not really the focus here as the high SPF protection it delivers – without any compromises on finish – is the big sell. Plus, the added radiance feels like a fair trade-off, and our make-up still stayed put well throughout the day.
Buy now £39.00, Charlottetilbury.com
The verdict: Charlotte Tilbury invisible UV flawless poreless primer
This feels like a very clever move from Charlotte Tilbury – there’s plenty of buzz around SPF right now, but for many, it’s yet to become a staple part of our skincare regimen. The hybrid formula will appeal to anyone who forgets to wear a dedicated SPF product daily, as it delivers the benefits of a primer as well as high sun protection, all without the dreaded white cast or stickiness.
The only setback here is the price. At £39 for 30ml, there are definitely cheaper SPF formulas from the likes of La Roche Posay that work just as well, but you are technically getting two products in one, so if you usually wear sunscreen and a primer, this shouldn’t be a deal breaker. We’d love to see a larger tube, as we’ve got through half of one in just six weeks, but we’ll still be reaching for it daily.
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Want to keep your skin hydrated as well as protected? Our round-up of the best hyaluronic acid products is the place to start