review Heliocare gel SPF 50
Facial skincare

My skincare staples: Heliocare gel 50 SPF sunscreen

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review Heliocare gel SPF 50Of all my cosmetics, Heliocare gel 50 SPF sunscreen is the one I’ve been using the longest, since age 23 or so (how many centuries have passed?), and if nothing changes, it’s likely I’ll continue using it, even though lately I’m interested in trying other options.

Heliocare sunscreen
Heliocare gel SPF 50 sunscreen

Some time ago, I brought home this large 200ml tube, instead of my usual 50ml, feeling I was being clever and saving money. In fact, this might not be the best if you plan to to use it only on your face like I do, or don’t use it every day: keep in mind that, once opened, sunscreens must be used up within a year, because their efficacy declines over time, but I learned this well after opening the tube; the maker indicates it is best used within nine months of opening.

And yes, I know that manufacturers typically indicate a shorter shelf life than many products actually have, but in this case I prefer to play it safe, so I ended up using it on my face, neck, décolleté and arms, so as to use it up before its best-before time is up.

The bigger tube may be the right pick if you’re sharing with family in a summer trip, or using it on your body as well as your face, since it lasts a fairly long time, even if you’re applying generously as recommended. Being something of a cheapskate, from the neck down I’ll use anything that offers a decent protection (typically, I consider anything below SPF 30 little better than running around naked) and is cheapest at the moment of purchase. Lately, my preferred pick was the kiddie sun milk from my usual supermarket – Spanish chain Mercadona –, SPF 50 with chemical and physical filters among its first ingredients.

Product application:

The maker identifies this as a gel, but it’s more like a light cream. Aaand, if you’re something of an oil slick like me, it will produce shine, though not pimples (in my experience). This is no small feat: my skin, which is pretty easygoing and endures a lot without signs of irritation, is unsufferably choosy in this respect, and prone to acneic tantrums when it doesn’t like something, such as having pores clogged or its acid mantle compromised.

Just for this reason I haven’t even considered trying any other facial sunscreen all these years – better to stick to the tried and true, rather than waste time searching for perfection. Back to the subject, at this point in my life, a shine-inducing sunscreen isn’t as much of a negative for me as it used to be when I was younger and oilier, and sunscreen was a necessary evil (I just blotted with a paper napkin whenever necessary, which by the way isn’t ideal, as this takes off some of the protection). I still have to blot, though not as often as before, and in any case, at this point I’ve begun to appreciate the benefits of lipids, especially during the colder months.

The smell is nice, without being overwhelming (and leaves fairly quickly anyway).

The cream is easily absorbed and feels nice and hydrating, as opposed to sticky, except maybe in the summertime, when it does feel a bit less pleasant. It also won’t leave you looking like a maiko; if you’re darker-skinned, or just don’t like the telltale whitish cast typical of many sunscreens, this product is pretty low-key in that respect.

However, I’ve also heard from other users that it may be best to skip this if posing for flash photos, since the dreaded zinc-face is going to show (this sunscreen has both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as ingredients). I can’t say I’ve noticed anything in this respect myself, mainly because I hate posing for photos; soon as the cameras start appearing, it’s my cue to exit, pursued by a bear.


Here’s the weakest link of this review, because honestly, I’ve no idea, despite having used this product diligently for years.

Though I’ve lived all my life in hot climates, I’m no sun worshipper and activities out of doors aren’t my thing. I know this sunscreen’s formula relies on peer-reviewed filters, so I trust it does what it’s supposed to do, but nevertheless, it’s rare for me to place myself in a situation to test just how much protection I get from my sunscreen alone.

What I know for sure: I can’t remember a single instance in all my adult life where my face became red or suntanned. Now that I’m closer to 40 than to 30, I’m glad to have taken sun protection seriously, since it shows: my brother, 2 years younger and uninterested in anything skincare, but very much into sports and the outdoors, has had a noticeably furrowed forehead and fine lines around his eyes for years. Me, nothing in the eye area yet (yay!), while on my forehead these faint lines have begun to appear (boo!), and for time being I can still beat those back with hydration.

Speaking of which, if you’ve been unsuccessfully trying to get your SO, your son, or other skincare heathen male to wear sunscreen, I find guys don’t seem to mind this one much: it’s nice to apply, and doesn’t leave a noticeable cast on skin, furniture or car seats (this is mainly why mine dislike el cheapo milky sunscreen from the supermarket); also, the packaging doesn’t yell “Yes, I’m using feminine skincare products!*” from their gym bag. Well, the scent does, though it is rather innocuous and goes quickly anyway.

*And yes, I too think gendering inanimate objects is stupid… oh well…

Would I buy this again?

For winter, yes, without a doubt. For next spring/summer, I think it’s time to experiment with some other new products I’ve discovered, although I’ll keep my old trusty tube at hand just in case.

My rating for this product: 4.5 points

1 point: No! Never again, not even if you gave it to me. Not even if you paid me to wear it.

2 points: I didn’t finish the container and it’s very unlikely I’d buy this again. It might work for you, but it does nothing for me.

3 points: Meh. I’ll use up my jar/tube, but I don’t think I’d buy again. It might work for you, but it doesn’t do much for me.

4 points: I like it. It’s nice and does its job. I might buy this again, if I find nothing I like better.

5 points: I love it! It does its job very well, I find it a pleasure to use, and it’s earned its place in my beauty routine.






Surfacing periodically to chat about cosmetics.

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María Monedero
3 years ago

I been waiting to come to your blog some days ago since I met you on Twitter, but I didn’t find the right moment to sit down in front of my computer lol. And you know what? I didn’t expect your blog to be in English! But I DO like it a lot, I see good reasoning and love for cosmetics, and I think it is a wonderful combination ;). Erase this link if you think it’s better, but reading this article I thought maybe you and your spanish-speaking readers could find this article interesting: It’s precisely about how… Read more »

María Monedero
3 years ago
Reply to  Nessie

I usually don’t link to my own posts, neither 😉 But I just thought this time it could be useful… 😉

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