12.16.2014
15
185
UV Clear SPF 46
Rating
1.7 fl. oz. for $29
Category:Skin Care > Moisturizers (Daytime and Nighttime) > Moisturizer with Sunscreen
Last Updated:12.16.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:No
Review Overview

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.

Pros:
  • Fragrance-free.
  • 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.
Cons:
  • 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.
Claims

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.

Ingredients

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.

Brand Overview

EltaMD At-a-Glance

Strengths: Most products are fragrance-free; all sunscreens provide broad-spectrum protection with zinc oxide; cosmetically elegant sunscreens that are easy to apply and do not leave a telltale white cast; good eye gel.

Weaknesses: Some of the sunscreens are pricey, which may discourage the liberal application necessary to achieve the level of sun protection stated on the label; all of the sunscreens would be better if they contained a greater range of antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients; the post-procedure products and body lotion are stunningly basic and would not be a "best" option for post-wound care.

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.

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!


The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

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05.04.2015
Where have you been all my life?

I have been looking all my life for a sunscreen that didn't burn my eyes and didn't drip into eyes. I found a sample of this in my husbands drawer. He has rosacea and doctor gave to him. I tried and am so happy I could cry. Except I don't have to since it is not irritating my eyes. I wore all day and forgot it was on my face. That was a first! I looked in mirror and was pleasantly surprised by how bright my skin looks. A big thumbs up from me.

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Reviewed by
Teresa B.
05.03.2015
Where have you been all my life?

I have been looking all my life for a sunscreen that didn't burn my eyes and didn't drip into eyes. I found a sample of this in my husbands drawer. He has rosacea and doctor gave to him. I tried and am so happy I could cry. Except I don't have to since it is not irritating my eyes. I wore all day and forgot it was on my face. That was a first! I looked in mirror and was pleasantly surprised by how bright my skin looks. A big thumbs up from me.

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Reviewed by
Teresa B.
04.29.2015
A must-have product!

This is a great sunscreen lotion!! It is slightly moisturizing, but not greasy and most importantly for me, does not suck moisture out of the skin as the day goes by. I love niacinamide and this lotion has 5%, which is a lot and it is disclosed right on the bottle (not many companies do it!!). It absorbs nicely and leaves no white cast and does not rub off on other items. The price is more than fair for what you are getting!

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Reviewed by
ANETA D.
03.05.2015
Pills, unsuitable for acne/irritated skin

This product pills, badly. I had to wash my face again and again to remove it. It stings around the eye and nose area, and isn't suitable for those with acne prone or sensitive skin. I'm gutted this product wasn't any good for me, my search continues.

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Reviewed by
Jones, D
01.24.2015
Actually absorbs into skin

I live in sunny Phoenix, so finding a sunscreen my face can stand is a bit of an obsession. So far, EltaMD is the only one above SPF30 that doesn't irritate my eyes, or remain greasy and tacky on my face. It takes a few minutes to absorb, but at least it does eventually absorb. This helps keep dark spots away.

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Reviewed by
Anonymous
01.03.2015
elta MD clear spf46

This is my holy grail product, I love this sunscreen, nothing else I have tried compares, I have acne prone sensitive skin, I layer this underneath my covergirl aquasmooth compact makeup and it's perfect, I'm surprised it didn't get a best rating, I keep trying to find another sunscreen that comes close to this and can't, when I use chemical sunscreens on my face they burn my skin.I strongly recommend this.

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Reviewed by
Gina A
08.23.2014
Best so far for combo skin

I have combo skin, still breaking out on occasion, but now getting a little dry & some fine lines. I love that it really is clear since I have a medium skin tone. I have found its competitors are either too greasy, too white & pasty, too expensive, or don't work under makeup. UV Clear SPF 46 by EltaMD is perfect. This glides on smoothly, NOT greasy & its oil free. It's moisturizing & fragrance-free too. I just wish it cost a little less. Tried loads of others, this one is "it".

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Reviewed by
Nancy A.
04.24.2014
Best Facial Sunscreen Ever!

I work in dermatology, and I get to try LOTS of skin care products. This is by far, leaps and bounds, the BEST facial sunscreen I've ever used, for my sensitive acne prone skin. It absorbs easily, no breakouts, makes my skin SO smooth, and layers well under makeup. It's a value because it's so good! I'm sorry to say Paula, you are wrong... this product deserves a BEST rating! I layer it over the CLEAR Reg exfoliant, and sometimes also the RESIST super antioxidant serum; it works great!

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Reviewed by
Marie
04.02.2014
Best Sunscreen Ever!

I'm surprised Paula didn't give this a "Best" rating. Seriously, this is the best product I have ever used. I have tried every sunscreen out there, and nothing compares to this. I have sensitive acneic and red skin and have no irritation with this. I generally stay away from sunscreens with chemical actives, but this one doesn't sting.

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Reviewed by
Vanessa
03.17.2014
Dentalgirl3

My dermatologist wears this daily. It's specifically for acne prone skin. I've been on the hunt for an SPF that doesn't break me out. This is it. It has perfect ingredients. It is a great makeup primer too. I can't believe this didn't get Paula's BEST rating. This is the best SPF. It is light and a great full spectrum sun screen. It's SPF 46! The bottle will last several months if you're only using a little a day. 1 pump will cover your face and neck.

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Reviewed by
Laura W
12.03.2013
Love this sunscreen

I have olive skin and I am prone to breakouts. This sunscreen is the best I've ever used! It doesn't have a weird odor, it goes on smooth and my skin seems to absorb it all with no shiny or greasy residue left behind. Even with my medium-toned skin, I can't see any white film after application. I make sure I never run out of this stuff. My dermatologist recommended it to me.

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Reviewed by
Brooke M.
10.29.2013
Pricy but effective

This is one of the few non-Paula's Choice sunscreens I use. I would use it more often except that it's expensive for sunscreen--and I use a lot. I apply it over a PC antioxidant serum. It absorbs very quickly. It can leave a slight shine but nothing a light dusting of pressed powder (SPF, of course) can't dull. It doesn't leave a white cast on me, but I'm really pale. I'm thankful to the other reviewer who mentioned she buys it cheaper on Amazon. I'll do that next time!

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Reviewed by
Jessica B.
09.07.2013
BEST sunscreen EVER

Prior to this product I could not find a sunscreen I was truly happy with, not even from Paula. This product is truly cosmetically elegant. The slight whitish cast has a brightening effect on my skin tone and does not aggravate my acne, a huge issue with me. I purchase this on amazon.com where you can get it much cheaper than the list price. I apply a Paula's Choice serum right before putting this on because the product's one downfall is that it doesn't contain much in the way of antioxidants.

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Reviewed by
Rebecca O.
05.02.2013
Great Sunscreen!

I have tried physical sunscreens in the past, but they left me looking like a ghost and had a tacky finish that didn't work well under makeup (besides looking very chalky). Researching online, I came across a recommendation for Elta MD, and now I can say I have finally found a sunscreen that meets all my criteria. No white cast on my olive skin, a silky-smooth finish, non-irritating, no breakouts, and no additional "grease" on an already very oily face. In short, it's perfect!

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Reviewed by
Sun L.
01.22.2013
Oily Skin Miracle

This face lotion is so lightweight that it's hard to believe that it's spf46! It absorbs rapidly and does not leave a sheen or any tackiness on my face. I have extremely oily/acne prone skin, this has not exacerbated my acne, and I've been using it for 5 months. It layers nicely under my liquid foundation.

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Reviewed by
MamaOwl
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