Healthy Skin Primer with Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 15
1 fl. oz. for $12.99
Category:Makeup > Sensitive Skin Products > Foundation Primer
Last Updated:12.03.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

This is a very good silky foundation primer that contains built-in broad-spectrum sun protection. Avobenzone is on hand for reliable UVA (think anti-aging) protection, yet this is not the best product to rely on for sun protection. Why? Well, in order for sunscreen to provide optimum protection, it must be applied liberally. In contrast, a thin layer of foundation primer is often all that’s needed for best results. Applying too much primer can create a slick surface, causing makeup to slide right off and not blend properly.

Because of the sun protection/application issue, we don’t recommend relying on this primer as your sole source of sun protection; however, it’s great applied over your daytime moisturizer with sunscreen (or you can follow with a foundation rated SPF 15 or greater).

Healthy Skin Primer contains light-reflecting ingredients and a dash of cosmetic pigments to help illuminate (brighten) and make skin tone look more even. It’s a cosmetic effect, but it works while looking natural.

You’ll find this primer feels light and is very easy to blend. It leaves skin feeling matte  but with a soft, satin-like glow that doesn’t look greasy. The fragrance-free formula contains some beneficial ingredients, including antioxidant soy and anti-irritant feverfew. It would be nice if these ingredients were present in higher concentrations, but given most primers omit such ingredients, it’s not fair to ding Neutrogena.

This primer is recommended for all skin types except extra-sensitive, because the active ingredients aren’t the best for those with sensitive skin (mineral actives of titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide are preferred).


Neutrogena Healthy Skin® Primer instantly evens and brightens skin, and optical modifiers help minimize the look of imperfections all day. Healthy Skin Primer contains Natural Soy, a proven tone correcting ingredient, and helps to even the look of skin for 8 hours with or without makeup.


Active Ingredients: Avobenzone 2%; Homosalate 3%; Octinoxate 4%; Inactive Ingredients: Water, Dimethicone, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Isododecane, Methyl Trimethicone, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Silica, Butylene Glycol, PEG 9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Dimethicone/PEG 10/15 Crosspolymer, Sodium Chloride, Nylon 12, Phenoxyethanol, Quaternium 90 Bentonite, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Caprylyl Glycol, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, Tocopherol, Propylene Carbonate, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Disodium EDTA, Sorbic Acid, Chrysanthemum Parthenium (Feverfew) Flower/Leaf/Stem Juice, Titanium Dioxide, Mica, Bismuth Oxychloride, Iron Oxides, Tin Oxide

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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Doesn't break me out

I switched to this product from a different brand's BB cream because I was having issues with breakouts. This primer doesn't bother my sensitive skin or cause breakouts. I only wear primer, not foundation. This formula goes on smoothly and I feel like it makes my skin more dewy.

Reviewed by

After trying this product, I disagreed with Paula's review completely. The product is too thick to be a primer. It does not feel feel silky at all. It feels like I'm putting on a thick layer of sunscreen. If you're looking for a true primer - this isn't it. Like another member said, I'm not sure what to do with this product.

Reviewed by
Not what I expected

I was disappointed with the product. Tends to be on the thick side, feeling more like a sunscreen (with the smell that goes along with sunscreens) rather than a primer. It didn't do anything to help with the application of my foundation. I have a dry/slight combination skin type, yet I found this primer adds too much shine throughout the course of the day. I've used Too Faced and Victoria's Secret primers in the past and prefer those to this one. Love Neutrogena, but this one's not for me.

Reviewed by
It's just average really

It's an ok primer but it didn't do anything to make or break my foundation. I have combination skin and it did great as far as to not make my face too oily. I've used other drug store type primers which are way better than this one though. I like the added sunscreen but probably will switch back to my other brand. Small size for the price you pay. Found I needed a bit more of it vs. the other brand I use. Probably won't purchase again unless they discontinue my other brand.

Reviewed by
I Don't Really Know What to Do With It

The packaging's nice. The product itself has nice consistency and good "slip." Application's a breeze with fingertips or a clean foundation (paddle type) brush. It leaves a barely-there slightly luminous finish with zero coverage. I can't say it makes an effective primer. I don't think it helped smooth out my makeup application, nor do I think my makeup wears better over this product. It doesn't fill in or minimize fine lines and pores. It doesn't minimize or cover imperfections. It has sunscreen but I have better performing products with sunscreen. Will not buy again due to low performance and animal testing.

Reviewed by
A M.
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