Clear Face Break-Out Free Liquid-Lotion Sunscreen SPF 55
3 fl. oz. for $10.49
Category:Skin Care > Sensitive Skin Products > Sun Products > SPF 50 and Higher Sunscreen
Last Updated:03.25.2015
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

Wouldn’t it be great to find a high-SPF sunscreen that didn’t cause or worsen breakouts? Although some formulas (those with liquid or very thin textures and liquid foundations with sunscreen) have an edge in this regard, the truth is there’s no way to say with 100% certainty that a sunscreen won’t make breakouts worse. This sunscreen has a lot going for it in terms of its water-light, silky texture and near-weightless finish. Both of these traits make it preferred for breakout-prone skin. It also provides broad-spectrum sun protection that includes stabilized avobenzone for reliable UVA screening. That’s why it’s such a shame to report than the company added two fragrant plant extracts (cinnamon and cedar bark) that are known irritants (Source: www.naturaldatabase.com). Also disappointing is the lack of proven antioxidants and repairing ingredients, both of which are essential for better skin and stronger environmental defense. In essence, this product does some things right but enough is wrong that it’s not worth trying—there are better liquid sunscreens from Neutrogena as well as other brands, including SkinCeuticals and Paula’s Choice.


Neutrogena® Clear Face Sunscreen is specially designed to provide superior sun protection without causing breakouts on acne-prone skin. Formulated with Helioplex® technology, it provides superior broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection. Perfect for face and body, this liquid-lotion has a water-light texture that leaves a weightless, matte finish so skin can breathe. This product features Helioplex®, a breadth of stabilized sunscreen technologies that delivers superior protection from the sun.


Active: Avobenzone 2.7%, Homosalate 4%, Octisalate 4.5%, Octocrylene 6%, Oxybenzone 4.5% Other: Water, Cetyl Dimethicone, Silica, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Steareth-100, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Polyacrylate, Steareth-2, Dimethicone, Chlorphenesin, Polyester-7, Propylene Glycol, Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate, Disodium EDTA, Bisabolol, Ethylhexyl Stearate, Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer, Butylene Glycol, Diethylhexyl 2,6-Naphthalate, BHT, Xanthan Gum, Mannan, Capryloyl Glycine, Trideceth-6, Sarcosine, Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Cedrus Atlantica Bark Extract

Brand Overview

Neutrogena At-A-Glance

Strengths: Inexpensive; several recommended cleansers; retinol options, in stable packaging; vast selection of sunscreens, most of which offer excellent UVA protection; several fragrance-free options; many of the Healthy Skin products are state-of-the-art; the foundations with sunscreen provide sufficient UVA protection; some praiseworthy makeup items.

Weaknesses: An overabundance of overlapping anti-aging products that is perennially confusing for consumers; irritating bar soaps; lackluster to downright bad toners; a handful of bland moisturizers and eye creams; some sunscreens too much alcohol or problematic preservatives; most of the Deep Clean products are terrible; mostly disappointing concealers; the lip balms with sunscreen provide inadequate UVA protection.

Johnson & Johnson–owned Neutrogena has been around for over 50 years, and they've come a long way since they launched their first transparent, bronze, detergent-based bar soap (it also contains tallow). The bars are still sold, and while we still don't recommend them (they are too drying for all skin types), the good news is that Neutrogena has come a very long way from where they started. In fact, several of their products represent truly state-of-the-art options.

Strolling the skin-care aisles of any drugstore or mass-market store reveals that Neutrogena vies for shelf space and prominence with only one other brand, Procter & Gamble's Olay. For the most part, both companies offer a similar assortment of products, with Olay being slightly more focused on anti-aging products and Neutrogena going for broader appeal, offering a nearly equal amount of antiwrinkle and anti-acne products. Regrettably the latter category presents few viable options.

Where Neutrogena really excels (and has for years) is with water-soluble cleansers, AHAs, retinol, and sunscreen products. Their Healthy Skin lineup offers some beautifully formulated moisturizers with glycolic acid, and the sunscreens offer something for everyone, including some ingenious options for those with oily skin (or anyone who finds the texture of high-SPF products as unappealing as slathering your skin with Crisco).

A recent self-proclaimed advance in sun protection came with Neutrogena's Helioplex complex. It is not the superior breakthrough Neutrogena makes it out to be. It's a good system to keep avobenzone stable for longer, but Helioplex isn't the only way to get the most out of this important UVA sunscreen. If it were, why didn't Neutrogena scrap all of their other sunscreens that don't use Helioplex technology? And why do they still offer a handful of SPF-rated products that leave skin vulnerable to UVA damage? Although they offer a proportionately greater number of sunscreens that provide excellent UVA protection, it's hard to unequivocally deem them a sun-care leader when they still sell inadequate sunscreens.

It's common to see commercials and magazine ads for Neutrogena's plethora of products designed to combat breakouts and blackheads. It's nothing short of amazing that, after all these years, the majority of these products, while well intentioned, still don't get it right. Far too many of them contain irritating ingredients such as alcohol, witch hazel, and menthol, none of which are the least bit helpful for someone struggling with breakouts. If your dermatologist recommends these products for acne without reservation, definitely consider a second opinion! Even Neutrogena's on-the-spot benzoyl peroxide product contains some potentially problematic thickening agents. Despite this, if you choose carefully, there are some great products (including a BHA lotion) that can make a positive difference.

What's most frustrating and, frankly, surprising, is that Neutrogena's enormous assortment of products represents both the best and the worst the cosmetics industry has to offer. Given their worldwide distribution and research capabilities, they really should be offering a consistent range of effective, irritant-free products to address a variety of skin types and conditions. As things stand now, healthy, protected skin is only assured if you know which Neutrogena products to look for and which ones to never put in your shopping cart.

For more information about Neutrogena, owned by Johnson & Johnson, call (800) 582-4048 or visit www.neutrogena.com.

Neutrogena Makeup

Neutrogena's "beautiful and beneficial" pronouncement is a great tag line, but most of their makeup doesn't live up to that assertion. This line was lacking in several key areas when it first hit store shelves in 1999, and although some things have improved, the number of problematic products is a bit startling. (We are not aware of any cosmetic line that uses menthol or its derivatives as often as Neutrogena.) Each product carries on about the vitamins it contains, yet compared to the leading roles played by cosmetic staples like silicones and thickening agents, the vitamins have mere cameo roles, and as such have little to no impact.

There are a few key items to seek out, especially if you're looking for makeup with excellent sun protection. We also found their lip gloss to be one of the best at any price, and a few of their foundations successfully bridge the gap between skin care and makeup.

The most frustrating aspect of this line is that almost all of it is packaged so you cannot see the color. Even worse, the color swatch on the box is a poor representation, not only of how the color looks in the compact, but also how it looks on your skin. What would truly be beneficial is for Neutrogena to offer more revealing packaging or provide testers or offer trial sizes. Their overall collection and in-store displays aren't nearly as tempting as most other drugstore makeup lines, so in most cases they're relying on their constant magazine and television ads to drive shoppers to explore the world of Neutrogena makeup, or they're relying solely on those who don't mind guessing what color they are really buying. It's obviously working, because despite the problematic elements, this is a line that has survived and is very well distributed.

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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Negative nelly

This product is great; goes on easy, disappears fast, and doesn't even feel like you're wearing sunscreen. I haven't experienced a breakout from this sunscreen despite my extremely sensitive skin. This article just picks apart every small detail of this product. No product is perfect or will ever be. This product does its job of protecting against UV without breakouts. What else is there to say?

Reviewed by

Even though this does contain two concerning ingredients, they are at the end of the list and so far I haven't experienced any irritation. I'm phasing out all UV absorbers in favour of UV reflector Zinc Oxide as I personally just feel it is the best one. Texture wise it is an absolute dream though I admit it wouldn't hurt if Neutrogena added a few antioxidants in the formula. It certainly doesn't deserve a poor rating, at least Average/Good. Fine for resistant skins, not sensitive.

Reviewed by
Great sunscreen!

This is a great sunscreen. I have used Neutrogena's Age Shield for years, and I credit their Helioplex ingredients with helping me have clear, unlined skin. Neutrogena seems to have discontinued the Age Shield product, so I bought this instead. Clear Face is even better (still has Helioplex), no whitish residue, just disappears and makeup goes on nicely over it. I am very light-skinned and prone to allergic reactions, and have had no allergic problems with this after a month's use.

Reviewed by
Barbara A.
Best Sunscreen ever

I am 37, indian origin, have mildly oily skin and no acne problem, develop dark spots/patch very easy. I have used several sunscreen of nutrogena and other company this is the best among all specially in this price range. It does not leave my skin very shiny or oily like all other sunscreen and does not sting either. This sunscreen felt really good on my skin. I apply skinceuticals ce ferulic underneath to take care of antioxidant problem. will recommend.

Reviewed by
Nadia S.

I've tried a lot of sunscreens. I'm using tazorac during the evenings and aczone and Paula's BHA during the daytime. This is the only sunscreen that does not break me out or irritate me. As for Paula's rating...those two extracts are in the last few ingredients. This is NOT a good reason to give this screen a poor rating! I have extremely sensitive skin, and it worked very well for me. The ingredient obsession on this website sometimes irks me.

Reviewed by
R. B.
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