Given that Summer has seemingly now arrived, my best beauty buy this month has to be suncream.

Having been unseasonably cold for much of Spring, I found myself caught out by the sudden spell of summer weather we have been enjoying recently – not least because we decided at short notice to go to the beach. While getting everything ready I realised that I only had the dregs of last year’s sunscreen to go around two adults and two children, one of those adults being a husband who had already managed to resemble a lobster from attending a long alfresco lunch the previous day. I therefore had an emergency outing to my local Boots…

I was not expecting much aside from the usual Boots’ own brand, Nivea and Ambre Solaire brands, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the range on offer, not least because in recent years my usually easy to tan and sun tolerant skin has become somewhat sensitive to the sun and/or sun lotion (I have not yet determined which). Apparently, it’s an age thing (why is it that once you hit 40 there seems to be so many minor, but nonetheless irritating, ailments and conditions that are all put down to ageing? It’s so depressing, particularly when I thought 40 was meant to be the new 30??).

Tempted by a 25% offer, I loaded up on products from Vichy’s Capital Ideal Soleil range for sensitive skin, bulk buying to last for what summer days we may actually have between now and September, in the vain hope that they may add up to more than a week. My haul included everything from a factor 50 tinted BB face cream down to an SPF 20 Dry Oil, with higher factor body creams and sprays in between for Mr SITS and the girls. The Vichy brand is a bit of a blast from the past for me – it was one that my mother previously bought for me as a teenager but I have not used since. However, having now rediscovered it via its sun protection range, I think this is about to change…

First of all the packaging looks and feels more expensive than it is (I always try to get a little frisson of retail therapy out of any purchase, however mundane). Second, the whole range is suitable for sensitive skin and free of parabens, meaning that I no longer come out in the usual lumps and bumps from a day in the sun, and nor do I have to buy or lug around separate creams for the children. All of the products have the same light and fresh fragrance and are nicely hydrating without being greasy (my skin tends to feel dry after using most other sun products) –  Mr SITS and the children were particularly appreciative of the dry touch feel of the SPF 30 Invisible Hydrating Mist that was applied in a matter of seconds, which actually meant that the children were for the first time willing to be topped up at the beach without complaint. The products compared favourably to more expensive lotions that I have used in the past and were effective to the extent that I am glad to say that we had no need of the After Sun SOS balm that I had bought just in case my husband’s face turned an even deeper shade of red.

The star product in the range for me, however, as someone who suffers from hyper pigmentation on their face during the Summer months even when using sunblock, was the SPF50 BB Tinted Velvety Cream. It is hydrating without being at all greasy and I am now using it daily in place of my usual tinted moisturiser, both for its high SPF and for its ability to even out my hyper pigmentation without looking like I am wearing make up.

In fact, the only downside of my purchase despite the 25% discount, was that I have since located a French online pharmacy (www.cocooncenter.co.uk) that for a small charge delivers to the UK and sells the whole Vichy Capital Ideal Soleil range at a substantially lower price than that available here, even after taking into account the current promotion offered by Boots. For example, the SPF30 Hydrating Milk is on sale at Boots for £19 full price (£14.25 with the current 25% offer), but sells at the online French pharmacy for just £11.21 – that is nearly half of Boots’ normal price. The disparity in pricing between here and France, whose capitals are only a smidgen over two hours’ away by Eurostar is a real bug bear of mine (first world problem, I know) – it is the same with Petit Bateau, another brand that I love but is far more expensive here. So much for the benefits of being part of the EU…

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