I tested ten million sunscreens and my four faves hail from Heliocare, Vichy, Nivea and Lipidol

If you’re in the beauty biz, you’ll know September/October marks the beginning of what I like to call ‘the sunscreen shower’ in that pretty much every brand sends you a bottle (or five) of their current SPF.

Thus, my little apartment recently became home to a whopping 31 sunscreens and I had a real time of it putting each one to the test while training for The Gun Run. Ultimately, I was looking for a high SPF facial sunscreen that didn’t feel sticky, heavy or leave a white cast on my combination skin and something similar to protect my bod as well as others that served up slightly lower protection levels as I still like to get a bit of a tan my arms and legs.

After much spritzing and rubbing, I can now reveal my favourites – the guys I liked so much I took them along with me on an island-hopping holiday through Thailand.

Hideous, I know.
Hideous, I know.


My sunscreen Dream Team.
Say hello to my sunscreen Dream Team!

To start, let’s chat about Heliocare Advanced Gel SPF 50 (R285, selected salons). This guy actually wasn’t sent to me but I tried all the others that were and nothing came close to knocking my beloved Heliocare off its number one spot as Best Facial Sunscreen for Combination Skin Ever. I love it’s sheer, oil-free, creme-gel texture that absorbs in a flash yet protects like a boss while meeting my three big requirements – no stickiness, no heaviness and no white cast. It’s the kind of thing that could easily be a light moisturiser for oily/combo skin if it weren’t an awesome sunscreen.

As far as body is concerned, here Vichy Ideal Soleil Bronze SPF 50 spray (R275, Dis-Chem) turned out to be my little darling. While it’s formulated with melanin-activating ingredients to help create a deeper-looking tan, I love it for its pampering, hydrating milk-like texture and the fact that it also meets ‘the big three’.

For the record, another Vichy gem is their Hydrating Milk SPF 50 for face and body. I was sent that last year and took it on yet another Thai island holiday. That time I was travelling in a pack of eight girlfriend and told them not to bring any SPF – that I had a big ole sack o’ sunscreen and enough to literally cover everyone. As it turned out, Vichy was the crowd favourite.

More island mooiness
More Thai island mooiness

Another sunscreen gem is Nivea Protect & Refresh Invisible Cooling Mist SPF 20 (R139, Clicks). This guy is the king of traceless protection in that it’s a clear liquid that mists onto your skin via aerosol and feels fabulously cool when it hits your skin. Perfect for those long, lazy days by our resort’s pool in Koh Samui when the temperatures hit what feels like boiling point. It’s less hydrating than Vichy’s milk or lotion, but there are times when I don’t need or want that and then I’d reach for it. It was kind of like the perfect quick top up when you’re dashing between the sea and the pool. In fact, it turned out to be my dad’s favourite. Hydration isn’t important to him and he liked that he could mist it on and then hit the road without feeling like he had anything on. By the time our holiday came to an end the can was just a quarter full and he took it back with him to Port Elizabeth.

Last but not least, let’s talk about Lipidol sunscreen oil, (R79,99, exclusive to Clicks). I love a good tanning oil, especially for my legs and arms, as I like the sheen it gives my bod and appreciate a slightly lower protection level in a bid to get my tan on. (For the record, once I achieve a nice-looking golden colour, I swap out the oil for a high SPF. No grilling over here, I promise!) While I had several tanning oils to play with, I liked Lipidol’s best thanks to its subtle, natural scent – something it owes to the inclusion of Cypress and Basil essential oils. To my nose it’s ever so slightly masculine, but makes me think of being a kid lying on a soft bed of grass on a hot summer’s day.

Do you have a favourite sun protection product I should know about?

Love, love


9 thoughts on “I tested ten million sunscreens and my four faves hail from Heliocare, Vichy, Nivea and Lipidol

  1. I also have a combination skin and lean toward oily skin. I love Heliocare and use the Gel one. I will stick to it as all the others I tried either made my skin oily or left my skin with little bumps.

    1. No, I haven’t. But I’m only hearing good things. Right now I’m having a love affair with Heliocare’s SPF 50 gel. It’s one of the few high SPF facial sunscreens that don’t make my oily-combo skin feel like an oil slick ;-P

  2. Lipidol hands down. Tried it last year. Still love it. Easy on the wallet and I can tan also. Put it on my legs and arms put my feet on the dash open the sunroof and by the time I get where I’m going too. Tada tan/glow/spf boom.

  3. Leigh please tell me where I can purchase heliocare? I’m also combination skin leaning towards oily and look for the exact same things in sun protection as you do! I’ve never heard of this heliocare before though… I’m currently using a chemical sunscreen for face and body and I don’t have a problem with it-but maybe it might have long term side effects. I don’t know yet!…

    I’m suffering ghastly sunburn on my most exposed body parts (arms and legs!) And I’m obsessed with sunscreen these days- I don’t use body lotions anymore because they are useless! And sunscreen lotions have come a long way past ten years, lol.

    Love your blog leigh! Efficient and informative

    🙂 xo

    1. Hi hun! Glad you’re enjoying the blog 😉 You can get Heliocare from dermastore.co.za or selected salons like Skin & Body Renewal. That and Cetaphil’s SPF 50 for oily skin (Dis-Chem) are brilliant pics for an oily-combo face.

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