We're torn about how to review this sunscreen because it certainly provides sufficient UVA protection with its in-part avobenzone sunscreen. It also has a lightweight feel and a soft matte finish not often found in sunscreens with high SPF ratings, but that’s part of the dilemma—SPF 85? Really, whose skin sees that much daylight? If someone with very fair skin that burns instantly were to apply this, or even someone whose skin turns pink in ten minutes, they could stay in the sun for 850 minutes (14 hours) without burning, and there simply isn’t that much daylight in most parts of the world. Someone with a medium skin tone that tans could stay in the sun for 28 hours! In addition, we are concerned that someone using this product would think they don’t need to reapply because, hey, it’s SPF 85, so they’re covered all day, right? Nope. Higher SPF ratings don’t mean better protection, just longer protection—and that does not negate the need to reapply after swimming, toweling off, or perspiring. Lastly, and this is the deal-breaker, the presence of the preservative methylisothiazolinone and the amount of active ingredients (33.5%) likely make this too irritating for most skin types. The aforementioned preservative is recommended for use only in rinse-off products; even small concentrations are known to be sensitizing (Source: Contact Dermatitis, May 1998, pages 261–265).
Helioplex delivers unbeatable UVA protection. It works better to help prevent damaging UVA rays from penetrating deep under skin’s surface. Dry-Touch technology absorbs excess sunscreen oils, leaving a clean, lightweight, non-shiny finish.
Active: Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (15%), Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (4.5%), Oxybenzone (6%), Other: Water, Butyloctyl Salicylate, Silica, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Beeswax, Ethylhexylglycerin, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Diethylhexyl 2-6-Napthalate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, BHT, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Acrylates Dimethicone Copolymer, Acrylates/C12-22 Alkyl Methacrylate Copolymer, Disodium EDTA, Triethanolamine, Fragrance, Methylisothiazolinone May Also Contain: Chlorphenesin,Benzisothiazolinone
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'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. (I'm 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.