Although this sunscreen isn't the best choice for sensitive skin (we'll explain why in a moment), it is among the better sunscreens Bioderma sells.
This fragrance-free sunscreen lotion, which can be used on the face or body, provides broad-spectrum protection and reliable UVA screening (critical for anti-aging benefits) from avobenzone (listed as butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane) and two types of Tinosorb (listed as methylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenol and bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine). Tinosorb is a UVA-protecting sunscreen ingredient approved for use throughout Europe, but not yet in the United States—although why it's not approved in the United States is a good question, as it's been safely used for years in many other parts of the world. Technically, Bioderma shouldn't sell it in the United States, but, in this case, flying under the radar isn't a bad thing for your skin.
It's the sunscreen actives that make this an iffy choice for sensitive skin. Generally speaking, those with sensitive skin should stick with the mineral sunscreen actives titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide. The so-called "chemical" (synthetic) sunscreens present in this product can be fine for all other skin types, and some people with sensitive skin will do fine with them, but the mineral sunscreens are far less likely to provoke a sensitized reaction.
Beyond the broad-spectrum protection, it's nice that this contains a decent selection of antioxidants and water-binding agents. This is a good example of what a modern-day sunscreen should contain to protect skin from environmental damage over and above sun protection.
- Provides broad-spectrum sun protection.
- Loaded with antioxidants.
- Great blend of water-binding agents to hydrate skin.
- The sunscreen ingredients this contains aren't ideal for sensitive skin and the high amounts can be sensitizing for some people.
The maximum anti-UVB efficacy and unmatched "extreme anti-UVA" performance of Photoderm SENSITIVE safely protects extremely sensitive skin and prevents sunburn and sun intolerance reactions.
Water (Aqua), Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Octocrylene, Butyloctyl Salicylate, Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl Tetramethylbutylphenol, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphebyl Triazine, C20-22 Alkyl Phosphate, Dipropylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG 100 Stearate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Mannitol, Xylitol, Rhamnose, Fructooligosaccharides, Laminaria Ochroleuca Extract, Creatine, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Niacinamide, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Tocotrienols, Tocopherol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Epigallocatechin Gallate, C20-22 Alcohols, Decyl Glucoside, Xanthan Gum, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Propylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium, Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.
Bioderma is a European brand based in France and sold in 70 countries around the world, which explains why we get so many requests to review the brand!
According to information on their website, the team at Bioderma has been collaborating with dermatologists and “renowned international research centers” for over 20 years, all to bring you products that are “the most frequently prescribed by French dermatologists.” Sounds impressive, but the proof is in the products, not the posturing!
Because Bioderma sells skin-care products, not pharmaceutical drug products, there’s no “prescribing” involved—anyone can easily obtain Bioderma products, in stores or online, no doctor visit needed. The fact that French dermatologists recommend these products isn’t proof of anything; lots of dermatologists around the world recommend products with problematic ingredients, sometimes because they simply don’t know any better or are just as susceptible to the hype as anyone else, and sometimes because they are paid by the company to promote their products.
The Bioderma range is huge, but also hugely repetitive. Few brands offer as many cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreens as Bioderma, yet the onslaught creates a lot of confusion, and the differences between many of these formulas are subtle to indistinguishable. There are some good products, but overall the formulas are lackluster. When shopping this line, you really have to choose carefully and not get too hung up on the various names and claims because often virtually the same product formula comes with different benefits on the label, again and again. And again.
Many people with sensitive skin ask us about Bioderma, perhaps because the company frequently mentions that their products are hypoallergenic. That term—“hypoallergenic”— is misleading, as explained below.
There are no accepted testing methods, ingredient restrictions, regulations, guidelines, rules, or procedures of any kind, anywhere in the world, for determining whether or not a product qualifies as being hypoallergenic. So, any company can label any product “hypoallergenic” because there is no regulation that says they can’t, no matter what so-called evidence they may use to make their point—and what proof can they provide given there is no standard against which to measure?
Given that there are no regulations governing hypoallergenic products, we know there are plenty of products labeled “hypoallergenic” that actually contain problematic ingredients and that can indeed trigger allergic reactions, even for those with no previous history of skin sensitivity—and that’s certainly true for many Bioderma products. We wish that weren’t the case, but the word “hypoallergenic” gives you no reliable understanding of what you are or aren’t putting on your skin (Sources: www.fda.gov; Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, May 2004, pages 325–327; and Ostomy and Wound Management, March 2003, pages 20–21).
That being said, we applaud Bioderma for avoiding the use of known sensitizing ingredients like peppermint, lavender, menthol, and all types of citrus, which unfortunately are rampant in the world of skin care. Many Bioderma products are also fragrance-free and in that sense are absolutely worth a look, whether sensitive skin is an issue or not. (Fragrance-free is best for all skin types.)
Despite the huge number of products, there are some surprising holes in the Bioderma line. For example, this isn’t a line to shop if you’re struggling with breakouts, there are no effective AHA or BHA exfoliants, the skin-lightening products have drawbacks that don’t make them worth considering over better options, and you won’t find advanced anti-aging formulations of any kind. You’re in luck if you want lots of choices in cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreens, but as mentioned above, there’s a lot to wade through, and much of it is repetitive. We’re all for brands offering choices for different skin types, concerns, and textures (such as gel versus lotion), but Bioderma’s range simply isn’t as varied as it is large. A large mix of relatively wishy-washy formulations is really not a plus for your skin.
For more information about Bioderma, visit www.bioderma.com.