If you're applying sunscreen liberally as directed, then SPF ratings above 50 are overkill. Keep in mind that the SPF number is not about the quality of the sunscreen, but the length of time it protects. In this case, there simply isn’t that much daylight in any part of the world to warrant such extreme protection.
However, because most of us under-apply sunscreen, higher SPF ratings can be potentially helpful. For example, if you’re applying half the recommended amount of a sunscreen rated SPF 100, you could still potentially be getting SPF 50, which is great.
However, there’s another issue to consider, too: The high amount of active ingredients required to reach this kind of stratospheric SPF rating puts your skin at greater risk of irritation, even if you’re not applying it liberally. For best results when you need sun protection for a longer period of time, we urge you to stick with sunscreens rated SPF 25 to 45 and be sure to apply liberally each and every time.
Aside from this product’s high SPF rating and the inclusion of avobenzone for critical UVA (think anti-aging) protection, the formula has problems. It is water-resistant, but it lacks a beneficial amount of antioxidants; the formula contains far more fragrance than beneficial ingredients.
Also disappointing is the inclusion of the sensitizing preservative methylisothiazolinone. Aveeno and sister company Neutrogena tend to use this in place of the unfairly stigmatized paraben preservatives, but methylisothiazolinone is generally not recommended for use in leave-on products. When you consider the high amount of sunscreen actives along with the irritation potential from this preservative, it doesn’t add up to a day of fun in the sun!
Note: Please see More Info for a discussion of the “Continuous Protection” name.
- Provides broad-spectrum sun protection.
- High amount of active ingredients required to reach SPF 100 puts your skin at increased risk of irritation.
- Inclusion of a sensitizing preservative further increases the risk of irritation.
- Contains more fragrance than beneficial antioxidants.
The “Continuous Protection” part of this product’s name is misleading because no sunscreen can provide ongoing (continuous) protection. Every sunscreen must be reapplied at regular intervals during long days outdoors or after you’ve gone swimming or perspired heavily. Neglecting this fact puts your skin at risk for sunburn and other types of sun damage.
This exclusive formula, which combines Active Photobarrier Complex to maintain broad spectrum sun protection over time, with natural soy protein and vitamin E, helps shield your skin from enviromental damage. Oil-free and noncomedogenic, it absorbs quickly for a sheer, lightweight finish, and is also hypoallergenic and waterproof.
Active: Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (15%), Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (10%), Oxybenzone (6%), Other: Water, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Silica, Beeswax, Cyclopentasiloxane, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Fragrance, Chlorphenesin, Triethanolamine, Disodium EDTA, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tocopheryl Acetate, BHT, Butylene Glycol, Methylisothiazolinone, Diethylhexyl 2,6-Naphthalate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Protein
Beginning with its first product in 1945, Soothing Bath Treatment, still sold today as part of the company's Baby line of products, Aveeno has prided itself on using natural ingredients. In some ways, they were a pioneer in the field, though for years the only natural ingredient of note in their products was oatmeal. Consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson purchased the brand in 1999, and wasted almost no time expanding it. A handful of bar cleansers and bath products were spun off into complete collections of facial-care products and an ever-growing number of body lotions and washes, not to mention shaving gels (Aveeno is one of the few companies whose shaving gels are truly fragrance-free).
Not surprisingly, many of the facial-care products from Aveeno are similar to those from Johnson & Johnson–owned Neutrogena. The differences typically lie in the natural ingredients each brand promotes. A cornerstone ingredient for Aveeno is soy, while Neutrogena has experimented (with varying degrees of success) with copper, retinol, salicylic acid, and melibiose. Overall, Neutrogena has a much larger and more comprehensive selection of products, though their formulas are also more problematic. Aveeno would do well to diversify a bit, or at least acknowledge that it takes more than a single star ingredient to provide superior skin-care products. As is, most of their anti-wrinkle products don't compete favorably with the more well-rounded options, not just from Neutrogena but also from Olay, Dove, and, in some respects, L'Oreal.
Getting back to the issue of soy, you'll see from the reviews it is indeed a helpful ingredient for skin—just not in the same multifaceted, does-everything manner Aveeno touts on each soy-containing product's package. A big proponent for Aveeno's use of soy is dermatologist Dr. Jeannette Graf. She is quoted on Aveeno's web site, stating that "It is now clear that the ability of natural soy to deliver multiple benefits to skin plays a lead role in high performance skin care." That sounds great but it doesn't explain why Aveeno ignores research on countless other antioxidants, skin-identical ingredients, or cell-communicating ingredients, all elements Dr. Graf uses in her separate, namesake product line. Interestingly, with Graf's own products relying on a blend of efficacious ingredients, including soy, it's a good question why she decided to endorse Aveeno's one-note soy products.
The bottom line is that when it comes to shopping for skin-care products at the drugstore, Aveeno, for all its talk of being a leader in "Active Naturals," doesn't have the all-inclusive product assortment needed to take the best possible care of your skin. However, paying attention to their top offerings is time (and money) well-spent!
For more information about Aveeno, owned by Johnson & Johnson, call (866) 428-3366 or visit www.aveeno.com.