UV Physical SPF 41
3 fl. oz. for $27
Last Updated:12.23.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:No
Review Overview

This tinted sunscreen contains the mineral actives titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for gentle, broad-spectrum sun protection. It dispenses a bit thick, but softens during application and leaves skin feeling smooth.

The tint is on the yellowish side, but it will work fine for those with light (but not fair) to tan skin tones. On fair skin it can be too strong unless applied quite sheer, which diminishes the sun protection you get.

The fragrance-free formula is another good option from EltaMD. It is suitable for sensitive or rosacea-affected skin, and generally works best for normal to dry skin not prone to breakouts. It's great that the formula contains the antioxidant quercetin as well as some good skin-repairing ingredients, allowing it to do more than provide sun protection.

  • Fragrance-free.
  • Provides broad-spectrum sun protection and is water-resistant.
  • Sheer tint means no worry of a white cast.
  • Lightly moisturizing formula feels silky, not thick or pasty.
  • The tint is on the yellowish side and not suitable for fair skin tones.
  • Would be better if it also included a range of antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients.

More Info:

The list of inactive ("other") ingredients in this sunscreen is alphabetical rather than in descending order of content. This is permissible by U.S. regulations because sunscreens are classified by the FDA as over-the-counter drugs, not cosmetics. We're not sure why EltaMD uses this approach for some of their sunscreen ingredient lists and lists others in descending order, because the latter makes it easier for consumers to differentiate a worthwhile product, which this is, from a less exciting formula.


Elta MD UV Physical SPF 41 uses the natural sun blocking properties of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to protect the skin from damage caused by UVA and UVB sun rays. This oil-, fragrance- and paraben-free sunblock absorbs quickly and dries with a water resistant, transparent finish. Ideal for use alone or under makeup, and suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. A soft tint enhances the skin's tone, leaving it bright and refreshed-looking.


Active: Zinc Oxide (9%), Titanium Dioxide (7%); Other: Aluminum Hydroxide, Butylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Dimethicone/Methicone Copolymer, Hydrated Silica, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Isopropyl Palmitate, Lecithin, Linoleic Acid, Octyl Stearate, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Oleth-3 Phosphate, Perfluoronyl Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Polyacrylate 13, Polyisobutene, Polysorbate 20, Purified Water, Quercetin, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Selenite, Soft Tex Yellow Iron Oxide, Soft Tex Red Iron Oxide, Soft Tex Russett Iron Oxide, Soft Tex Black Iron Oxide, Thioctic Acid, 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.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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BEST tinted sunscreen with natural looking foundation coverage.

I've been using this product as a sheer foundation for years when I want a natural look with sunscreen protection. I even use it under regular non-sunscreen foundation when I love a foundation, but still want the UV protection. Color is amazing on my skin tone too. It covers more then you think it will. I'm light-medium with neutral undertone.

Reviewed by
Melendy N.
Great as a foundation too!

This sunscreen is the only one I wear on my face by itself or under foundation. For hot summer days it gives great coverage and you look finished. Who needs makeup? I've been asked what foundation I was wearing when that's all I had on. I have light olive skin and it blends beautifully. This one is a keeper!

Reviewed by
Not a yellow tint

The tint is cool light beige, not at all yellow.

Reviewed by
agreeing with others

i have to absolutely agree with others, the tint is not yellow at all. i have very neutral skin tone and anything even slightly yellow looks terrible on me but not this b/ it has a neutral tone. i only wish the spf was 50 n had 80mins water resistance. why is it so hard to find a decent priced water resistant TINTED mineral high spf? the higher rated recommendations are so expensive. so until PC makes one im stuck using this mediocre (but best among what is offered right now) product.

Reviewed by
S V.
Amazing sunscreen - great tint

This is a great sunscreen which I use as a foundation/tint. I'm fairly cool/pale and this is not at all yellow. More beige I would say - very neutral.

Reviewed by
Works well for me!

Hi, I really appreciate your reviews and usually find them pretty on point. Like the previous commenter, however, the description of the tint in this sunscreen seemed a little bit off to me. My skin is fairly pale and very pink and I don't find this tint too warm at all. At least on my skin, it is nearly invisible after rubbing it in, even when applied very liberally. Of course, however, one's experience with the tint may well very a lot from one person to the next.

Reviewed by
I Love This Sunscreen!

This is my favorite physical sunscreen (Paula's Ultra-Light is a very close second). I don't understand Paula's issue with the tint on this - I am very fair with cool undertones, and this is not yellow or too dark at all! (It is much lighter than Paula's). Thanks to Paula's wonderful skin care, I can use this EltaMD physical as my "foundation" on casual days. I don't get any breakouts with this, and find that it has a lot of staying power.

Reviewed by
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