This is a very good, surprisingly light, fragrance-free daytime moisturizer with sunscreen. Critical UVA (think anti-aging) protection is supplied by an in-part zinc oxide sunscreen, and this has a cosmetically elegant texture that feels silky rather than thick or pasty.
Based on the name, you may be wondering if this really goes on clear (zinc oxide is known to leave a telltale white cast on skin). For the most part, it does—only a faint white cast is visible—and it can be argued that it works to brighten skin, which many will find a benefit.
In addition to sun protection, the formula provides a good amount of the cell-communicating ingredient niacinamide and lesser amounts of skin-repairing and antioxidant ingredients. This would earn our top rating if it contained an array of antioxidants rather than just a small amount of vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate).
Although zinc oxide is a great sunscreen for those with sensitive or rosacea-affected skin, EltaMD chose to combine it with another sunscreen, the synthetic octinoxate. This sunscreen ingredient (like any synthetic sunscreen ingredient) has the potential to be sensitizing, so this isn't a good choice for sensitive skin; it is best for normal to oily or combination skin.
- Provides broad-spectrum sun protection.
- Does not leave a discernible white cast.
- Cosmetically elegant formula feels silky, not thick or pasty.
- Contains a good amount of the anti-aging superstar ingredient niacinamide.
- A bit pricey, but not terribly so.
- Could use a broader range of antioxidants.
- Can be a problem for sensitive skin because it contains a synthetic sunscreen ingredient.
A lightweight, silky formulation offering protection against UVA and UVB damage. It calms and soothes sensitivity due to delicate or acne-prone skin conditions. The oil-free formula sets to a residue-free finish that's perfect for wear alone or under makeup. After application, the skin is comfortable, smooth and protected against damage.
Active: Zinc Oxide (9%), Octinoxate (7.5%) Other: Purified Water, Cyclomethicone, Niacinamide, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Polyisobutene, PEG-7 Trimethylolpropane Coconut Ether, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lactic Acid, Oleth-3 Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Butylene Glycol, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane.
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.