ESP Environmental Skin Protector SPF 30+

Price:
$24.95 - 30 ml
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Category:
Skin Care > Moisturizers (Daytime and Nighttime) > Moisturizer with Sunscreen
Last Updated:
3/19/2013
Jar Packaging:
No
Tested On Animals:
No

Despite the “invisible” portion of this brand’s name, this sunscreen leaves a telltale white cast due to the high amount of zinc oxide (the sole active ingredient). Without question this provides great broad-spectrum protection, but the tradeoff is a sunscreen that doesn’t become invisible on skin.

This facial moisturizer with sunscreen is best for normal to dry skin not prone to breakouts because the high amount of zinc oxide has the potential to clog pores and worsen acne. The ingredient list doesn’t mention fragrance, but the formula contains fragrant lemon extract, so this isn’t perfect for sensitive skin, although the amount of fragrance is low.

Important note: We noticed that this product has a tendency to separate as you blend over your skin. The pump applicator dispenses the product just fine, but when you massage it over your skin the consistency becomes cottage cheese–like and impossible to blend together. We don’t know if this is a common problem or if we simply got a container where the product had gone bad, but it’s something to be aware of and to bring to the attention of the company if you notice this occurring as you apply it.

Pros:
  • Fragrance-free.
  • Provides broad-spectrum protection.
  • Contains antioxidants for additional environmental protection.
Cons:
  • Is not invisible on skin.
  • Moisturizes, but the amount of zinc oxide leaves a dry finish.
  • Not for blemish-prone skin.
  • May separate during application, which makes it impossible to apply evenly.

ESP Environmental Skin Protector is a full Zinc Oxide facial sunscreen with a lightweight moisturiser feel and will change the way you wear sunscreen. Forms an invisible film on the skin that reflects UV light away and acts as a barrier between you and the environment. High-end UV protection that feels like a hydrating moisturiser.

Active: Zinc Oxide (20%) Other: Water, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Isostearyl Neopentanoate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Glucoside, PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Xanthan Gum, Diazolidinyl Urea, Benzyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Citrus Medico Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Fumaria Officinalis Extract, Fumaric Acid, Disodium EDTA, Tocopheryl Acetate

Invisible Zinc is focused on sun protection, using only zinc oxide as the active ingredient. Just like the mineral sunscreen ingredient titanium dioxide, zinc oxide provides broad-spectrum sun protection all by itself and is a great option for sensitive skin or for use around the eyes because neither zinc oxide nor titanium dioxide are likely to sting if you get them in your eyes, whereas other sunscreen actives (such as octinoxate or avobenzone) can cause stinging.

Hailing from (and sold primarily in) Australia, Invisible Zinc makes a big deal about the zinc oxide their sunscreens contain, way too big a deal. Although zinc oxide is an excellent sunscreen ingredient, it isn't the only one or the best option for all skin types. In fact, the large amount of zinc oxide Invisible Zinc typically includes in their products coats the skin with a thick, occlusive texture that can feel heavy and exacerbate a person's tendency to break out.

Where Invisible Zinc goes astray is their claim that they use micronized zinc oxide that is "invisible to the naked eye," but that's not the case—their sunscreens are glaringly visible on skin—there's no mistaking the slight to moderate white cast their products leave on your skin! Interestingly, we've seen many zinc oxide–based sunscreens that don't claim to be invisible on skin, but that show nary a trace of a white cast once blended on, but not any from this line.

If the fact that their regular sunscreens and their facial moisturizer with sunscreen are actually quite visible on skin isn't disappointing enough, almost all of these sunscreens feel uncomfortably thick and heavy, especially when applied to the face. Without question they provide reliable broad-spectrum protection, but the application is disappointing.

It also surprised us that supermodel and Australia native Elle Macpherson is the spokesperson for this brand, and that she's clearly sporting a tan on the company's Web site! In a classic example of mixed messages, Invisible Zinc wants you to know their products provide serious sun protection, but you can still get a tan! Granted that Elle's tan may be from a self-tanner, but they don't tell you that—all you see is a gorgeously tan and bikinied Elle.

We had such high hopes for this brand. Many of our Australian readers ask us about it, and we're always thrilled when we find brilliant sunscreens to recommend. It's just that for these products, while the sun protection is assuredly there, the aesthetics fall short. One last comment: We would have rated Invisible Zinc higher if their products contained a good array of antioxidants. Research has made it clear that antioxidants help boost skin's environmental defenses and make sunscreens even more effective.

For more information about Invisible Zinc, visit http://invisiblezinc.com.au/.

Note: All prices are in Australian dollars. Invisible Zinc is sold primarily in Australia, but is available in select U.S. locations as well as in South Africa. It also is available online from various Australian, United Kingdom, and U.S. beauty and personal care Web sites. For a list of locations, please visit the company's Web site listed above and click on "stockists."

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Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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