Active Very Water Resistant SPF 45
3 fl. oz. for $28
Category:Skin Care > Sensitive Skin Products > Sun Products > SPF 30-49 Sunscreen
Last Updated:01.05.2012
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:No
Review Overview

Active outdoor enthusiasts, take note: This is definitely water-resistant. However, given that it’s very expensive, and keeping in mind that you must apply a product liberally to get its SPF rated protection, it can be a problem, because if you apply this liberally, you will use it up in less than a week, depending on how much of your body you cover. Like all PCA Skin sunscreens, it provides broad-spectrum protection that includes zinc oxide for reliable UVA screening.

The silky, slightly fluid texture is great for normal to oily or breakout-prone skin, but the amount of zinc oxide has the potential to clog pores. Whether or not this will be a problem for you requires experimentation, but this issue is present in any sunscreen that contains high amounts of zinc oxide.

It’s great that the formula contains proven antioxidants to help repair damage and to boost the efficacy of the sunscreen actives. The only concern is that the price may keep you from applying this liberally from head to toe. Considering the cost, you may want to use this only on your face, neck, and chest, but purchasing a well-formulated less expensive sunscreen is a far better way to go.


  • Provides broad-spectrum sun protection that includes zinc oxide for reliable UVA (think anti-aging) screening.
  • Fragrance-free.
  • Water-resistant formula is ideal for outdoor activities.
  • Lightweight texture and silky finish.
  • Contains antioxidants to boost the skin’s environmental defenses.


  • At this price, a 3-ounce size of a body sunscreen is a problem because you must apply sunscreen liberally to get the SPF coverage stated on the label, and for most people this price will discourage applying it as needed.

Accommodate your active, outdoor lifestyle with this light sunscreen. It offers superior UVA and UVB protection with an ultra-sheer z-cote, providing excellent shielding benefits. A boost of caffeine further combats the skin from cellular damage as antioxidant-rich milk thistle suppresses the formation of sunburn cells.


Active: Zinc Oxide (8.0%), Octinoxate (7.5%), Octisalate (3.0%) Other: Water, Cyclomethicone, Ethylhexyl Isononanoate, Silybum Marianum Extract, Caffeine, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Dimethicone/PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Sodium Chloride, Butylene Glycol, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Phenoxyethanol, Triethoxycaprylylsilane

Brand Overview

PCA Skin At-a-Glance

Strengths: Every SPF-rated product provides reliable broad-spectrum sun protection; several products are fragrance-free; good eye cream and retinol serum.

Weaknesses: Way too expensive for what you get; several products contain irritating fragrant oils; the toners contain irritants; there are too many serums and many contain irritating ingredients; the acne products contain problematic ingredients.

PCA Skin is a product line you may have seen at your spa, salon, or dermatologist's office. Founded by an aesthetician in 1990, the brand became relatively popular after developing a series of professional alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) peels marketed as "medical clinical aesthetics"; in other words, these products are sold to dermatology practices offering cosmetic services such as facials. More recently, PCA Skin has teamed up with a dermatologist and other medical professionals to develop skin-care products. The peels are for professional use only and, in fact, except for a facial scrub, PCA Skin does not sell exfoliants that consumers can use at home.

Not surprisingly, PCA Skin's medical and aesthetics background is supposed to be rooted in science. The company states that "we use rigorous research and science to develop safe, highly effective products that deliver healthy, beautiful skin." Although PCA Skin products contain many beneficial, research-supported ingredients, they also contain numerous problematic ingredients that cause irritation; somehow, that "rigorous" research overlooked those. Irritation is always a problem for skin, causing inflammation and collagen breakdown, and impairing the skin's ability to heal.

Chief among the irritants you'll find throughout the PCA Skin line are witch hazel, citrus and numerous other fragrant oils (whether synthetic or natural, fragrance is almost always a problem for skin), drying cleansing agents, and alcohol (we mean, really, alcohol?!). In our Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary, we provide detailed information on why each of these ingredients is a problem; for all of their talk about science, chemistry, and research, PCA Skin should know better.

If you remain intrigued by this brand (or find the sales pressure from your aesthetician too intense to ignore), there are some worthwhile products. It’s great that every SPF-rated product from PCA Skin includes reliable broad-spectrum sun-protection ingredients, and fans of facial scrubs should know this brand does offer a gentle option. Also, their eye cream and retinol serum are worth a look, and several products are fragrance-free, although you need to choose carefully because many of their products contain fragrant plant extracts or oils despite being listed as fragrance-free.

PCA Skin's science-based mission is admirable, but just because an aesthetician and doctor teamed up, the results for these products aren't going to be spectacular, or even all that helpful.

For more information about PCA Skin, call (877) 722-7546 or visit www.pcaskin.com.

About the Experts

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