* Prices may differ from that shown
I first purchased this product a couple of years ago in Tesco and distinctly remember it was on offer for £5 which for the size of the bottle was a great price, I have bought a second bottle of it when I saw it offer last year too as I was pleased with it's protection. It currently sells at about £10 a bottle and can be bought online, from supermarkets and of course from chemists.
I always use SPF 50 for my children as I think their sun protection can never be too high, you can buy this brand in other SPF ratings too. The lotion comes in a white plastic bottle which is ridged on the sides to make it easier to hold although once you have the lotion on your hands I don't find it any easier to hold the bottle.
The bottle has got a spray dispenser on the top of it which I think is to make it easier to use which on the whole it is however when you have quite a lot of lotion on your hands it can be hard to apply enough pressure on the small pump top without your hands slipping. We also found that after a while the nozzle would get clogged but a quick wipe over soon sorted it out.
It states on the bottle that once opened the lotion has a shelf life of 12 months although we used ours in one summer anyway but I would never consider using last years lotions as apparently they lose some of their SPF rating and I simply wouldn't want to chance using it on children's skin. It is also stated on the bottle that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays and that it is dermatologically tested, I need something that is quite gentle on my children as my eldest has eczema patches which will come and go so I don't want anything to aggravate these and this lotion doesn't.
This lotion is really easy to use, it is quite runny but as it comes out of a spray it isn't too bad as you can spray it straight onto the childs skin although I did find with my youngest that as her limbs were so skinny some of the lotion would spray past her so ended up just spraying into the palm of my hands and doing it that way. The lotion isn't too greasy like some I have used although I did always feel the need to wash my hands after applying it.
The spray provided great protection for both my children and neither of them showed any signs of even the tiniest tinge of pink skin, the lotion is waterproof which is important to me with children who like to constantly jump in and out of the paddling pool on a hot day.
I was really happy with this lotion and I would give it a 4 star rating however I have found other products that work just aswell and that are cheaper than this one which is why I haven't bought it this year.
Despite a distinct lack of sun exposure our house has never had a shortage of sun protection lotions, sprays, and potions. This product is my personal favourite for reasons I will outline below.
Ambre Solaire are a brand manufactured by Garnier Laboratories, itself a mass-market subsidiary acquired by L'Oreal in the 70s. According to PETA, Garnier are one of many companies that test on animals. Ambre Solaire literally translates as "sunscreen" in French.
The most important part of any sunscreen, of course, is protection from the sun. Most sun protection is labelled with SPF (sun protection factor) or UV and then a number to signify strength (the higher the number, the more protection). But what are UV rays in the first place? To summarise many years worth of scientific research, UVA, UVB, and UVC are different types of radiation from the sun (or indeed a sunbed). UV stands for ultraviolet (an invisible part of the light spectrum), and A stands for long-wave, and B, short-wave. With even shorter waves than UVB, UVC rays are absorbed by the atmosphere and not much of a threat, whereas UVA and UVB rays are not. UVA penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB, and is thought to be responsible for premature ageing, whereas UVB can only penetrate the topmost layer of the epidermis and causes burns. Both types can lead to mutations in cell DNA and therefore skin cancer.
So how do you protect from it? Most sunscreens are divided into two categories, with either chemical or physical barriers to stop UV rays penetrating the skin. Chemical barriers soak up any UV rays before they hit the skin, whereas physical ones are meant to reflect the rays from the skin. Ambre Solaire SPF 50+ contains Mexoryl SX, which has the active ingredient Ecamsule, a chemical protector from the highest range of UVA and UVB rays.
I always go for the highest UV protection (or SPF) available, perhaps more out of paranoia that real need, as in our country you are much more likely to catch a cold than any sunshine. I have sensitive skin and I feel that I burn easily, and it's important that anyone with delicate skin, such as a child or an older person, use a lot of protection. This is where labeling gets a bit confusing. With SPF labels it simply means that "skin will take X time to burn with this on rather than without it" - generally, use an SPF 15 or above when sitting out in the sun, but higher for extended periods. This product is labelled SPF 50 as well as UV 50 - which is even more confusing, as I am unsure where the two designations diverge.
According to Garnier, UV protection can often break down due to prolonged exposure to sunlight, but all Ambre Solaire products use a "Photostable UV filtration system". Basically - it is meant to hold up for hours without needing to re-apply, but I think in most cases you should use your common sense and re-apply if you feel you need to. Though, I do feel safe when using this product, both from sun burns (UVB) and sun-related wrinkles (UVA).
Unlike many traditional sun lotions, where you lather it on and all the sand sticks to you, this product is a spray which is meant to apply more evenly and with less mess. While I can vouch for the former, unfortunately I can't really say it soaks in any quicker. What it sprays is a fine amount of whitish lotion with a very runny consistency that you have to rub in the skin (or get someone else to do your back).
The other ingredients in this product, apart from Mexoryl SX, are cactus extracts and pure vitamin E to keep skin hydrated. The spray is meant to be hypoallergenic. I am allergic to many topical lotions and shower gels, but using this product never caused an allergic reaction with my own skin, though I can't say it is particularly well-hydrated after sun exposure. Though allegedly perfume-free, it definitely has a unique scent, I can't put a name to it, but it's sort a weak citrus. However, despite the extra lengths Garnier apparently went to, there is a small print on the bottle saying that this spray is not suitable for use on the face.
As for the packaging, when you fork out the cash, you receive a small white bottle with an orange nozzle and a clear plastic cap. The bottle isn't as big as many sun lotions, but I used it all last summer and it didn't run out, though I am not sure how many applications that is. The nozzle does tend to clog but I usually ran it under a bit of water and it was fine. The bottle originally comes in a box, which is recyclable, but a bit silly in my opinion - it would be easier just to pick up the bottle sans box, as the plastic cap protects the nozzle, the box feels superfluous. As far as I know the components of the bottle are not recyclable.
As for price, I think this is available in all major supermarkets and drug stores at the first possibility of any warm weather, but at time of writing is is currently available for £9.59 on Amazon.
I understand that many people will be put off by the idea that, even though the bottle states contents were "dermatologically tested", it is made by a company that does test on animals. I think the lack of recycling potential in the packaging just cements the idea that Garnier products aren't very world-friendly in our continually eco-aware society. However, for one of the strongest protective sunscreens currently available, it does do the job well, and is also remarkably hypoallergenic and easy to apply. Until there is a more eco-friendly product available which doesn't compromise on protection, I will continue using this for many summers to come.
Effective sun protection for those that think about it least / it's child's play! / Advanced UVA & UVB Photostable filters / Helps protect children's delicate skin against sun induced skin damage / Quick & easy-to-apply / Sand & water resistant / Enriched with a hydrating complex, cactus nutriflavones & vitamin E / It helps protect the natural moisture levels of skin / Hypoallergenic and perfume-free / Formula 100% conforms to European recommendations for protection against the harmful effects of UVA and UVB rays /