Tested: Best and worst sun creams revealed as the weather warms up

Consumer watch dog Which? have revealed the sun creams that passed their SPF and UVA testing, and those that didn't. We take a look at the best sun creams that work and which ones to avoid.

a collage showing the best sunscreens like Nivea, Garnier and Piz Buin
(Image credit: Future)

The best sun creams these days aren't the sticky, white and paint-like creams that most people remember from their childhoods. 

Sun lotions in 2022 have reached new heights of sophistication and many are now colourless, odourless, easy to apply and waterproof. Be it the best sunscreen for kids or choosing the right sunscreen for your face - factors like SPF and protection against those UVA and UVB rays remains important. And that's exactly what consumer watchdog Which? prioritised when testing popular products on the market.

From supermarket own brands to big name beauty favourites, we've collated these best sun creams together in one comprehensive list - showcasing their protection pluses, in addition to application ease, value for money and suitability to sensitive skin.

How were the best sun creams tested?

  • SPF test performance: For the Which? SPF test, suncream was applied to a small area of a volunteer's skin, which was then exposed to a UVB lamp. They recorded when the skin turned red, and compared the smallest dose of UVB needed to turn the skin red, with and without the sun cream, to determine the SPF.
  • UVA test performance: The UVA check saw Which? testers using a device called a spectrophotometer, which allows testers to measure the amount of UVA absorbed by the sun cream. All products passed this test.
  • Overall rating: Which? compiled the results from both tests and awarded it a PASS or FAIL status based on SPF and UVA protection.

Best and worst sun creams 2022 ranked:

Nivea sun cream

(Image credit: Nivea)

1. NIVEA SUN Protect & Moisture Sun Lotion SPF30

A Which? Best Buy suncream

Specifications

SPF test performance: PASS
UVA test performance: PASS
Overall rating: PASS

Reasons to buy

+
Hydrating
+
Light and non-greasy application

Reasons to avoid

-
None

This lotion from NIVEA is a great buy if you’re off on your holidays and need a sun cream you know will work. They also passed the sun spray from the same range.

Which? says: "Our panel of testers gave this sun cream five stars – it doesn’t leave skin feeling sticky and doesn’t leave a chalky white residue, as some other products do.’ They also named it a Best Buy sun cream."

Garnier Solaire sun cream

(Image credit: Garnier Solaire)

2. GARNIER Ambre Solaire Moisturising Protection Spray SPF30

A Which? Best Buy sun cream

Specifications

SPF test performance: PASS
UVA test performance: PASS
Overall rating: PASS

Reasons to buy

+
Water resistant
+
Easy application - non greasy and no white marks
+
Nice 'holiday' fragrance

Reasons to avoid

-
None

We love it for that summer holiday smell and thankfully the Which? testers agreed - passing it for both UVA and SPF protection and awarding it a Best Buy status.

Which? says: "Garnier Ambre Solaire Moisturising Protection Spray SPF30 passed both our SPF and UVA tests and our panel of testers considered it very easy to apply, so we've named it a Best Buy sun cream."

ASDA sun cream

(Image credit: ASDA)

3. ASDA Protect Sun Lotion SFP30

Specifications

SPF test performance: PASS
UVA test performance: PASS
Overall rating: PASS

Reasons to buy

+
Value for money
+
Easy to apply

Reasons to avoid

-
Some reviewers said it could lead a white residue

A sun cream bargain, this ASDA lotion is less than £3 for a 200ml bottle. In addition to the great price is the fact that it passed both Which? tests too.

Which? says: "Our panellists appreciated the scent of this sun cream, and found it fairly easy to apply. They awarded it four stars for application." This product was also tested by Which? in 2016 for eczema and sensitive skin and faired well.

Calypso Press & Protect Sun Lotion SPF30

(Image credit: Calypso)

4. Calypso Press & Protect Sun Lotion SPF30

Specifications

SPF test performance: PASS
UVA test performance: PASS
Overall rating: PASS

Reasons to buy

+
Water resistant
+
Nice subtle fragrance

Reasons to avoid

-
Difficult to rub in
-
Can be sticky to apply

This lotion from Calypso also works out very cheap per 100ml. Passing the Which?'s SPF and UVA protection, we reckon it's a solid investment in your summer skincare regime.

Which? says: "This sunscreen is an affordable option and passed our SPF and UVA tests - it'll help keep you protected in the sun. Our user panel liked the fact that it doesn't leave skin looking chalky. Our panel found it difficult to apply - it needs more rubbing in than other sun creams and can leave skin feeling a bit sticky or greasy."

Soltan sun cream

(Image credit: Soltan)

5. Boots Soltan Protect & Moisturise Lotion SPF30

Specifications

SPF test performance: PASS
UVA test performance: PASS
Overall rating: PASS

Reasons to buy

+
Pleasant fragrance
+
Not greasy or sticky

Reasons to avoid

-
Takes a while to rub in
-
Could cause irritation for those with sensitive skin

Boots own brand products are a go-to for many of us when we're stocking up on sun care, so we're pleased to say that their Protect & Moisturise Lotion passed Which?'s tests for several years running. They also passed the sun care spray from the same range.

Which? says: "This product passed our tests, so it's an effective sun cream. However, our panel didn't find it as easy to apply as some other sun creams" - so perhaps not one for use with fidgety kids.

Morrisons sun cream

(Image credit: Morrisons)

6. Morrisons Sun Lotion SPF30

Specifications

SPF test performance: PASS
UVA test performance: PASS
Overall rating: PASS