Best SPF Sun Protection – Elemis Liquid Layer vs. NARS Primer

A side-by-side comparison of Elemis Liquid Layer and NARS Smooth & Protect Primer for the best face SPF sun protection you can use daily.


It’s summer and sun protection is a must, especially for your face. Whether you’re sunning yourself on a beach, about to embark on a yoga retreat, or simply going about your day-to-day city-life, you’ll likely be exposed to harmful UV rays. With so many sunscreen brands on the market, it can be overwhelming to know how to choose the best SPF face protection which suits your skin type and fits in well with your summer skincare routine.

This summer I trialed out two different sun protection products with SPF: Elemis Liquid Layer SPF 30 and NARS Smooth & Protect Primer SPF 50. I’ll be reviewing both to provide you with some insight on texture, wear, qualities and performance.

Elemis Liquid Layer SPF 30

I’ve been using Elemis skincare products for about 5 years now. They suit my skin type and haven’t let me down. My mum advised I try Elemis Liquid Layer SPF 30 when I felt the sun cream I was using wasn’t providing sufficient protection. I have sensitive skin and so my nose and cheeks are quick to burn when exposed to strong sunrays.

Elemis Liquid Layer SPF 30
Elemis Liquid Layer SPF 30

Product Profile

Elemis Liquid Layer SPF 30 is a high protection sunscreen for the face which protects against harmful rays. It’s the first line of defence against sun damage and pre-mature skin aging. Its cellular protecting anti-oxidants not only guard against UVA and UVB rays, but also defend against daily pollutants too. Moreover, it’s water resistant.

Sunscreen Application & Wear

The Liquid Layer by Elemis has a very milky texture. It’s super light-weight and moisturising and easily covers the skin. It does, however, leave a white tint behind. I have pale olive skin and I find it lightens my skin tone, leaving a faint residue. It doesn’t bother me as I mainly use it while sun-bathing and apply a generous amount. However, I can imagine it might not sit right with other skin tones.

As directed, I first apply my day face cream and then layer the SPF Liquid Layer on top. If I’m out and about running errands on a hot summers day which typically involves wearing make-up, I use a lesser amount and mainly focus on my nose, cheeks and forehead. This allows my foundation, concealer and blusher to sit better.

On application, my face maintains a glossy sheen from the Liquid Layer, which wears well in the summertime.

The Results

Since using Elemis Liquid Layer SPF 30, my face has been well-protected from sun exposure. If anything, I’m a little gutted at how slow my face picks up colour compared with the rest of my body, when usually it’s the first to tan! However, having healthy skin is well worth the sacrifice. It provides great protection under strong sun and can easily be re-applied during long exposure.

Depending on your skin type and skincare routine, it can be used every day for multiple purposes, from protecting your skin while you’re tanning on the beach to a day out in town. In my opinion, if you tend to wear a decent amount of make-up it’s not the best make-up companion, unless you’re going for a dewy look. I like to keep my make-up light during the summer and so for me, Elemis SPF 30 Liquid Layer is one of the best sunscreens for face.

NARS Smooth & Protect Primer SPF 50

A friend of mine introduced me to NARS Smooth & Protect Primer SPF 50 claiming it’s the best primer she’s ever used. We have completely different skin types which I initially thought might mean we’d have different experiences, but she assured me it would deliver.

Nars Smooth & Protect Primer SPF 50
NARS Smooth & Protect Primer SPF 50

Product Profile

NARS Smooth & Protect Primer SPF 50 is an oil-free formula which performs as a primer and sunscreen in one. It delivers sun protection whilst priming your face for make-up. It simultaneously helps smooth out fine lines and protects against environmental stressors too. It’s perfect for daily use, prolonging and enhancing make-up wear, without clogging pores.

Application & Wear

NARS Smooth & Protect Primer has an amazing balmy texture. It smoothes onto the skin like an invisible layer. It’s also light-weight and contrary to Elemis Liquid Layer, it provides a matte effect. As a SPF primer to apply before makeup, it formed a great base for my make-up, reduced redness and allowed my makeup to easily glide on with flawless finish. It wears comfortably, and helps your make-up sit and stay during hot summer days.

The Results

NARS Smooth & Protect Primer SPF 50 wears perfectly under makeup and protected my skin from sun exposure. I have combination skin and in the summer it can be more oily than usual. However, I needn’t worry as the NARS SPF primer performs exceptionally well. It kept my make-up in-tact throughout the working day and maintained the matte look.

If I plan to be outside, exposed to the sun for long hours, I use a sun cream on my face in place of my day cream, before applying the NARS primer. As it’s not strictly a sunscreen, if you’re out in the sun for several hours, it’s worth doubling up on protection.

Overall, I found it to be one of the best SPF make-up primers out there.

Best Skincare Brands for Sun Protection

Both sun protection products serve different purposes and deliver in their own right. Despite Elemis Liquid Layer having a lower SPF of 30, it does provide better protection from the sun. However, the texture may fail to work well with some skin types. On the other hand, NARS Smooth & Protect Primer SPF 50 provides excellent protection and works as one of the best primers I’ve used. However, if you have sensitive skin and are going to be sat outside in the sun all day, be sure to use a generous amount or as mentioned earlier, apply the primer on top of a face SPF sun cream for additional protection.

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