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As a very fair skinned and freckly red head, I have always had to take particular care in the sun. In fact, I am so pale that I am likely to suffer from sun burn after only a few minutes in the sun any time between May and September! When I was a child, my skin was burned quite badly on family camping holidays in France. My mum was vigilant with applying cream but I wouldn't keep out of the sea and I assume that sun care products were not as good then as they are now.
Only a few months ago, I went to the doctor regarding a suspicious patch on my shoulder and, sure enough, it turned out to be a 'BCC' (basal cell carcinoma). Not harmful in the long run but still enough to be a cause for concern. Couple this with the fact that I work outdoors in the sun at festivals every weekend during the summer and you can understand my need to find good summer skin care.
I purchased this Ambre Solair product on the recommendation of other people in my dermatology clinic, which seemed a good place to start with my research! Factor 30 is the bare minimum that I wear, or use for the children, even for general day-to-day wear.
The label states "12 hour moisturisation" - do be careful not to misread as this does NOT translate to 12 hours of sun protection; you still need to reapply from time to time through the day. Without cream, I burn in 5-10 minutes so this product has a reapplication rate of every few hours for me.
On the plus side, I do find that I can use this cream on face in place of a moisturiser. It contains vitamin E, apparently and it soaks in quickly though keep it out of the eyes as it stings. I find I need to wait a few minutes (about 15) before applying any make up or the cream makes any foundation slough off into little rolls of product - not attractive! The bottle does warn you not to spray this directly on to your face (presumably to keep it out of your eyes) so I put some on my hand and then applied like a face cream from there.
The cream spritzes on from a spray, each squirt delivering a blob about the size of a 20p. The cream is runny and absorbs quickly into the skin though it can feel a little tacky for a minute or so. If I over-do it, the cream does start to lift off - this is made worse if applying on the beach and sand gets into it, though that is tue of any product, I suppose. The smell of the product is quite strong and is a bit of a downside for me. It is certainly not unpleasant, sort of a fruity cologne type of scent, but it is strong enough to overpower any other fragrance you may be wearing.
The bottle has indentations for your fingers to grip which seemed a bit unnecessary to me until I tried to use the cream with wet hands. Aha! The grip design does actually stop the bottle slipping from your hands! Handy... The little orange plastic lid came off and got lost pretty quickly but the pump dispenser meant that there were no spillages in my bag. The nozzle was fine for about a week of daily use but I did notice that it clogged up a bit after this and the pump action stopped working. At first I started unscrewing the lid and daubing the cream on from the bottle but this got annoying pretty quickly. I found that holding the nozzle under warm running water for a while seemed to unblock it, as did remembering to give it a quick wipe after use so the product didn't clog up in the first place.
So - to the all important question - does it WORK?
Yes, really well. I was able to get full body coverage (I am TALL at 5' 8'') when wearing my bikini over 16 times from one bottle which seems pretty good value to me! My housemates were a bit confused as to why I was sporting my bikini in the bathroom but I really wanted to know how much I could get from a bottle in order to do this review so thorough measuring was a must!
I used this over a camping weekend which involved being outdoors all day and going swimming in the sea. I reapplied the cream ONCE to my face and to the patches on my shoulders affected by the BCC mentioned above. I also kept out of full sun between 12 and 2pm which is just common sense, cream or not. Other than that, I had this cream on from 10am till 5pm and went in the sea twice. I didn't burn at all. I think my freckles may be a little more obvious so perhaps there was some sun penetration but maybe people who want to tan a bit would be ok with that.
My skin felt soft at the end of the day so I can vouch for the moisturising. I dodn't normally use a body moisturiser though so my skin might just have been crying out for anything at all!
I don't know much about the effect of parabens in creams but I know it has been the talk of many of my friends who are parents of young children. This cream does contain parabens so you may want to do more research in that are if it is of concern.
This is a great product for me as it takes me through the summer safely whether I am just wearing it on arms and face during the day or on less often exposed skin on the beach. The fragrance and eye-sting are stopping it from getting more stars as they make me worry about the chemicals inside but this is certainly an effective cream.
After having written about the after sun I had used on holiday, I now have to write about the sun tan lotion that I also used. I went for a Garnier Ambre Solaire as this is a brand I have now been using for years on my holidays and have always found it to be really good. They are a well known brand when it comes to sun care products and this one just ticks all the boxes. Deciding on which factor to go for has also never been a problem, I always choose SPF30 as this suits my skin well as I am olive skinned so can take the sun well but I still like to have a high enough factor on to feel like it is protecting my skin from burning.
This product comes in really distinct packaging as it is in a white plastic bottle with an orange pump top and on the front has the Garnier logo which is bold and in an orange band it says 'Very High 30' and it has some grooves on the side where your fingers will be to hold the bottle which makes it easy to hold whilst applying. It is 200ml in size and on the reverse, it has a list of ingredients, as well as how to apply and information on the product itself and how it works. It is a good enough size and easy enough to carry in a bag as well as down to the beach, 200ml should last a good amount of time while away on a typical holiday.
GARNIER AMBRE SOLAIRE MOISTURISING PROTECTION SPRAY
To give a brief description of what this product actually does, it is a moisturising sun spray and its formula gives 30 times of skin's natural protection. This spray has an advanced filter system which aims to protect the skin from UVB rays and UVA rays which stops long term damage and sun burn. This contains a hydrating factor and vitamin E to keep skin moisturised and hydrated in the sun and it has been dermatologically tested. Now, I have been using this on all of my holidays and it has never irritated my sensitive skin, once it did seem to cause it to itch slightly but never again has it and this is why I keep using it.
It is easy to use and apply this spray, it is a white cream and you just push the spray head down and it comes out in a nice mist, not too much comes out at once and if you just give a few sprays on each section of the body then it will be enough to then moisturise it in, use sparingly though if you want to make sure you are fully covered. With sprays like this, they always have a slightly greasy base to them and it smells really fresh and like most sun creams but pleasant, it is easy enough to absorb into skin. You don't want to apply to much or it will give you a white sheen so just make sure you fully rub it in for maximum protection.
Once it has been applied, it will feel a bit sticky on but after a few minutes it should be well absorbed and less sticky. I find if I am wearing this, it will protect me well and when I go into the water, I will always reapply this, I just keep it under my sun lounger so that it doesn't get too hot or it isn't good. I find that the SPF30 is enough and usually on the first day of my holiday it just turns into a tan where I have applied this, any sections that I have missed I will spot as they will be slightly red. It is so easy to reapply this being a spray as at the beach where there is sand blowing a round it is much nicer spraying it on that pouring out cream from a tube.
I do find this great for moisturising skin and it does keep it in a good way in hot climates. If I am using this daily just on myself then it will always have some left at the end of a two week holiday. I don't get bad sun burn at all while using this unless it is my own fault for missing sections, this is definitely a good factor for those who can take the sun and colour well but if you are fair you will probably need a higher factor than this, this one is for those with more olive skin. I will definitely be buying this again on my holiday as it keeps my skin looking healthy, protects it well and it is easy to apply it and from a great brand.
This spray can be purchased in all supermarkets, chemists and Boots and Superdrug. The 200ml is on sale at Asda for just £5 which is the cheapest I've seen it so far anywhere.
The official Garnier website is http://www.garnier.co.uk/_en/_gb/.
As with most sun creams during the summer months, this sun cream was on a half price offer in Boots so I invested in a couple to take on holiday with me. It cost me the equivalent of £6.56 per bottle which is great value for a suncream of a good reputable make. Normally it would retail at £13.12. You can also buy these suncreams in other stores such as Tescos or Sainsburys.
The bottle stands upright and is mostly white in colour but with orange writing on it. There is a pump dispenser at the top and a clear round lid that you lift off when you want to use it. The pump dispenser worked very well at the start. You only needed to press it once and quite lightly for a lot of cream to come out. It even worked on an angle at the beginning and I was happy using it.
However, a few days in to the holiday I struggled to use the cream as I found the dispenser so hard to use. It seemed to go really, really stiff and I couldn't press it down with just one finger. My other half didn't find it problematic at all but he's a lot stronger than me. I am by no means weaker than any other 30+ woman so I imagine others would struggle too.
The actual cream worked very well for its intended use, to prevent burning and protect the skin. This bottle was Factor 30 but they do others which are lower and higher factors. I didn't burn any areas and felt comfortable with it on. The cream looked similar to other creams but I found it harder to rub in than others I've tried. I was glad it worked well in protecting the skin though.
Basically I was happy with the cream apart from the fact that I struggled to get it out! If the dispenser had been looser it would have been much better. I would have awarded more stars if the bottle had been made better.
Garnier Ambre Solaire's Ultra-Moisturising Protection Spray SPF30 offers 30 times the skin's natural protection against sun burn and is ideal if your skin is fair or not used to the sun / This spray is practical to use and light and fresh to apply / Containing Mexoryl SX, an advanced patented filter, it protects against UVA and UVB rays which cause sun burn and long-term skin damage / It also contains a hydrating complex, cactus nutriflavones and vitamin E to defend the skin and maintain natural moisture levels during sun exposure / Hydrated and protected, your skin is better defended against sun's harmful effects / 200ml