It is strange that EltaMD offers a daytime moisturizer without sunscreen. After all, they sell several that contain sunscreen, and without question any daytime moisturizer you apply should include sunscreen; even if you wear a foundation with sunscreen, you still need to protect other exposed areas, such as your neck and chest. All dermatologists around the world know this, so it's surprising EltaMD missed that on this one.
Whether you apply this during the day (and follow with an SPF-rated product—which would be an unnecessary second step if this contained sunscreen, as it should) or at night, it is a good, fragrance-free moisturizer for normal to slightly dry skin. This is also suitable for sensitive skin. It has a light cream texture that goes on smoothly and sets to a soft, non-greasy finish. The formula contains an impressive amount of the cell-communicating ingredient niacinamide, along with an anti-irritant and several skin-repairing ingredients.
The Piptadenia colubrine plant extract has some intriguing research showing that when applied to skin it helps to increase hydration while preventing moisture loss. It's nice to see a company use a plant extract with some good research behind it, rather than approaching the subject from a marketing angle, such as an exotic seaweed with miraculous healing properties, as many companies do (Sources: Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2011, pages 289–293; and Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2010, pages 35–43).
- Fragrance-free and suitable for sensitive skin.
- Lightweight texture supplies a good range of beneficial ingredients to improve skin's barrier function.
- Niacinamide offers multiple benefits, including helping to even out your skin tone.
- Could benefit from a range of antioxidants rather than just a form of vitamin C and niacinamide.
Provides all-day moisturizing in a very lightweight oil-free moisturizer base. EltaMD AM Therapy Facial Moisturizer increases moisture absorption and retention by stimulating aquaporins in skin cells.
Purified Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Ethylhexyl Isononanoate, Niacinamide, Lauryl PEG-9 Polymethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Piptadenia Colubrina Peel Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Allantoin, Caffeine, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Dimethicone/PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer, Sodium Chloride, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Capryloyl Glycine, Undecylenoyl Glycine, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide
Texas-based EltaMD is a small line of skin-care products that specializes in sunscreens. If you're like most of the women who've asked us to review this line, you most likely came across it at your dermatologist's office. EltaMD is a "physician-dispensed" line, but despite that professional allure, their products are not "medical" in the least. In fact, they are widely available for purchase online, and nothing about their skin-care formulas requires a prescription or your doctor's sanction. In fact, we're fairly certain many doctors wouldn't know how to decipher the ingredient list on the label of these products
Without question, EltaMD takes the necessity of daily sun protection seriously. They offer several sunscreens and moisturizers with sunscreen, each providing broad-spectrum protection from either zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. In short, this line gets its sunscreens right, and the fact that all of them are fragrance-free is an added bonus for your skin.
Perhaps most exciting is that almost all of EltaMD's sunscreens with zinc oxide (often joined by the synthetic sunscreen active octinoxate) apply beautifully and do not leave a noticeable white cast, despite their mineral base.
The company maintains that they use micronized zinc oxide, and you can tell. These sunscreens are easy to apply and most have cosmetically elegant textures that feel more like moisturizers than traditional "beach" sunscreens. They also work great under makeup, although some may find the mineral finish not to their liking, just based on personal preference.
Of course, EltaMD isn't the only company to offer a good selection of sunscreens that provide broad-spectrum protection. Nor are they the only game in town when it comes to using micronized zinc oxide; lots of other companies, including SkinCeuticals, Peter Thomas Roth, and Paula's Choice, use it because it's effective and aesthetically pleasing. However, EltaMD's formulas are quite good and compete favorably with others, especially for women with normal to dry or combination skin that's not prone to breakouts.
Where EltaMD's sunscreens could improve is by providing a greater array of antioxidants. Some of their sunscreens contain none, while most have only one, typically vitamin E. That's not bad, but given the research proving how antioxidants boost the efficacy of sunscreens and offer additional protection for your skin, it's good medicine to include several antioxidants in effective amounts rather than just one.
EltaMD also offers a small range of facial-care products, most of which are fragrance-free, although if they are from a "physican's" line, as this one is, they should all be fragrance-free because fragrance is not skin care and is almost always damaging to skin. The facial-care products are decent options, but for the most part they are ordinary and not preferred over hundreds of others. Sun protection is where it's at for this brand.
For more information about EltaMD, call (800) 633-8872 or visit www.eltamd.com.
Note: The Paula's Choice Research Team wishes to extend a special thank you to EltaMD. When we contacted the company to request information and assistance (something we do for every brand reviewed on this site) they graciously sent us every product along with helpful information on each. It is not often a cosmetics company assists us at all, let alone so willingly, and we sincerely appreciate it.