Avène High Protection Lotion SPF 40

Well, that was a long hiatus. Summer is nearly here and I’ve been wrapped up in yard maintenance and deck building, but I’m back now… and I’ve got a load of reviews to write! Spending so much time outside means I’ve been using all kinds of products geared toward hot summer days, including the one I’ll review for you today: Avène High Protection Lotion SPF 40.

Before I get into that, here’s a little refresher on SPF. SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is a scale that rates the degree of UVB protection that a sunscreen (or a product containing sunscreen) provides. Numbers can range from as low as 2 to as high as 100 – the lower the number, the less effectively the product can screen or block out UV rays. That said, there is a point at which the SPF rating starts to overinflate effectiveness. Where that number falls varies depending on your source, but SkinCancer.org says that SPF 50 (which blocks an estimated 98% of UVB rays) is really only minimally more effective than SPF 30 (which blocks 97%). This Avène sunscreen is SPF 40, so it likely blocks somewhere around 97.5% of UVB rays.

More importantly, this sunscreen provides broad spectrum protection – that means it blocks both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are the main cause of sunburns, while UVA rays are what accelerate skin aging and contribute (or may even initiate) skin cancers – the really bad stuff. To further complicate things, UVA protection is measured using a completely different method and the amount of UVA protection a sunscreen provides is indicated differently (or not at all) on the packaging depending on where in the world your sunscreen comes from. This sunscreen comes from France so there is no specific UVA rating on the tube, but the fact that it says “broad spectrum protection UVB/UVA” means that it provides roughly equivalent protection from both types of rays. Of course, all of this is moot if you’re not applying enough sunscreen to your skin. Slather it on thick, folks!

So, back to my review. Avène High Protection Lotion comes in a 100 mL tube with a flip-top cap. It’s a chemical sunscreen, which means it protects your skin from the sun using chemical ingredients instead of a physical barrier like zinc or titanium oxide. I happen to be extremely sensitive to physical sunscreens (something about the minerals makes me break out in a horrible red, angry, burning rash) so chemical sunscreens are my standard go-to. Both physical and chemical sunscreens provide ample sun protection, they just do so in slightly different ways (check out this Huff Post article if you want a more detailed explanation):

  • Physical sunscreens: deposit minerals on the skin’s surface to form a protective barrier that reflects UV rays
  • Chemical sunscreens: contain chemicals that absorb UV rays and ‘neutralize’ them by changing the electromagnetic radiation effect so the rays are no longer harmful

Some sunscreens contain a mix of physical and chemical, which would be my preference if I didn’t have the aforementioned mineral issues. That said, if you intend to wear your sunscreen under makeup, chemical is the way to go (in my humble opinion).

Two common complaints about sunscreen are greasy feel and white cast, and I’m fairly happy with how Avène High Protection Lotion performs in both areas. The sunscreen itself is a thin, white, milky fluid that is quickly absorbed and not greasy at all. It has a light perfume-y scent that I don’t love but could be worse, and it leaves a slight white cast (as you can see in the photo below) that’s noticeable, but much less so than a physical sunscreen. I’m a pink ghost so the white cast isn’t an issue for me, but could might be more significant for someone with darker/tanned skin. I found that makeup was a breeze to apply over it, especially foundation which went on smooth and silky. I didn’t bother using primer because the sunscreen did exactly what I would have wanted a primer to do. Double win!

I reapplied it a few times throughout the day and it didn’t end up feeling heavy or cakey, and I double-cleansed to wash it off (as I would with any sunscreen) in the evening. It didn’t leave any residue or irritate my skin, and left me delightfully sunburn-free during deck building extravaganza.

To sum it up:

  • Things I like: doesn’t irritate my skin, not greasy, absorbs quickly, works great as a primer under makeup, effectively prevented sunburn
  • Things I dislike: the perfumey scent they chose for it isn’t my favourite, the white cast is significant enough that it might be an issue on darker/tanned skin