I’ve been a beauty editor for 20 years and this SPF gel has completely changed my skincare game

Actually, it’s not hard: just swipe some on and there you have it. The problem is that it’s boring and inconvenient. SPF products traditionally don’t sit well within a modern skincare routine and beneath makeup. They roll, they curdle, they leave an ashy residue on anyone with darker skin.

Welcome to The Beauty Hype: A deep-dive into the latest buzz buys tested by Alice du Parcq, GLAMOUR’s Contributing Beauty Director with 20+ years in the game. This month, Alice delves into the one SPF she simply cannot live without.

Applying a dose of UV protection to your face every single day, all year round, is basically like committing to five fresh pieces of fruit and veg. Or meditating. Or switching your phone off after 7pm. You know it’s good for you, but WHY IS IT SO DAMN HARD?

Many are acnegenic or comedogenic – meaning they will line the insides of your pores, congesting up a perfect storm of bacteria, grime and grease like a tray of donuts would do to your arteries.
And how do you even shop for them? Are they filed under ‘suncare’ or normal skincare? Are they classed as serums or moisturisers? They’re a bit of all of these things and therefore super confusing.

There’s also the highly juvenile attitude I take when every single dermatologist in the land tells me to wear SPF every day. It’s their holy grail, their gold standard, “the best thing you can do for your skin”. But I’m that person who didn’t watch Sex Education, or read The Testaments purely because everyone else banged on about it non-bloody-stop.
I’m now paying for my petulance (hi there little brown spots and frown lines and broken capillaries) but something’s arrived in the beauty post-box that will future-proof my skin without the eye rolls. Here are three excellent reasons why Estee Lauder Perfectionist Pro Aqua UV Gel SPF50/PA++++ is worth the beauty hype:

It’s year-round skincare. Not holiday suncare!

Traditional suntan lotion that you wear when sunbathing is a totally separate type of product to this – scroll back up here once you’re done and click onto this excellent guide to sustainable and skin-loving sunscreens by Beauty Editor Lottie Winter if you’re heading on vacay (lucky!) and need that instead.

This gel on the other hand is most definitely one for your everyday skincare routine – tips on how to use it later on – and acts like a forcefield protecting you against all the rubbish that makes your skin rubbish.

It does these three majorly important things to fight that rubbish.

… and they directly counteract the environmental shitstorm that hits my face every day. I walk outside for at least an hour every day exposed to a lot of low-grade UV. On a writing day I spend 8 hours in front of a large computer screen, sometimes beneath office strip lights in a stuffy building. On an out-and-about day I’m pinballing from meeting to meeting in heavily polluted streets. I most definitely have evening Netflix Face from bingeing on Love is Blind while half-scrolling on social (sidebar: Love isn’t blind. MARK IS BLIND).

Anyway, this gel sorts all of that out. Firstly, it filters out UV with the highest possible protection available (that’s what the ‘PA++++’ on the tube means). Secondly, it neutralises light and air pollution such as HEV light from screens, microdust, ozone and smoke with a eight powerful anti-oxidants (including Vit C and E, and the rather fabulous sounding Tiger Lily Extract). Thirdly, it works long-term to build the scaffolding structure inside your skin that makes it stronger, calmer and less susceptible to irritation and dehydration.

It feels and looks completely invisible

Ok this is where the witchcraft kicks in, because I genuinely do not understand how a product with so much clout can come in a milky gel formula that leaves no residue (and doesn’t eff up your skincare underneath or the makeup above). And I’ve tried it in a ton of different ways: my usual morning routine is a swipe of acid toner, hyaluronic acid gel, Vitamin C serum, then either a facial oil or a moisturiser depending on the day.

The advice is to layer this gel as your last step in your skincare routine. I use a blob the size of an edamame bean, rubbed in palms and pressed onto the skin, and it sits perfectly with a bonus refreshing burst of juicy and cooling hydration that doesn’t disturb the skincare below. Once dry, I have trialled it beneath liquid foundation using my fingers and a brush, powder foundation with a sponge, tinted moisturiser, a stiff stick of concealer and liquid highlighter… you name it, it’s gone on there. And like a really good quality primer, it makes everything look pristine without rolling or clagging up. Short of googling every ingredient on the box, I’m assuming this is thanks to a clever silicone molecule that doesn’t cling inside pores (given the formula is specifically labelled non-acnegenic). And witchcraft. So much witchcraft.

This may sound subjective, but it’s a proper, genuine good-vibes product: it feels amazing, I know it’s doing good things for my skin and it slots into my face-life without disturbing the peace – all in one smart little bean-shaped gel blob. I can’t think of a single person it’s not for, because all of us go indoors and outdoors, it’s non-irritating even for fragile skin, and with zero-residue it suits all complexion tones.

It’s a brand-new launch priced at £36, which has slipped under the radar with no bells or whistles (those have all gone to Lauder’s new Futurist Hydra Rescue foundation – also delicious), so I’m giving this the spotlight it deserves. Convenient, easy, daily SPF: Perfectionist Pro Aqua UV Gel, you’re a little stunner.

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