Hydrator Plus SPF 30
1.7 fl. oz. for $34
Category:Skin Care > Moisturizers (Daytime and Nighttime)
Last Updated:01.05.2012
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:No
Review Overview

This fragrance-free, hydrating daytime moisturizer with sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection with its in-part zinc oxide sunscreen. The formula contains some antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients, allowing it to go beyond providing sun protection—and it is packaged to keep the antioxidants stable during use.

Although the company recommends this product for hot and humid climates, the formula doesn’t contain any ingredients that make it better for use in those circumstances. For example, this moisturizer with sunscreen isn’t labeled water-resistant, nor does it contain ingredients that help it adhere to skin better when it’s hot and humid and you’re perspiring.

Best for normal to dry skin (it doesn’t set to a matte finish as claimed), this is an option for breakout-prone skin because the amount of potentially pore-clogging zinc oxide isn’t too high, but it’s high enough that, when combined with the other active ingredients present, it provides reliable sun protection.

  • Provides broad-spectrum sun protection that includes zinc oxide for reliable UVA (think anti-aging) screening.
  • Fragrance-free.
  • Contains antioxidants for repair and to boost the sunscreen’s efficacy.
  • A potentially good option for normal to dry skin prone to breakouts.
  • Despite the claim, this formula doesn’t contain anything that makes it better for use in hot, humid climates. It is not sweat resistant.
  • Does not set to a soft matte finish as claimed, though you could consider it “satin matte.”

Formulated to give your skin extra protection from UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of 30 while replenishing your skin's natural oils. Ideal for hot and humid climates, this non-oily formula includes nourishing vitamins E and B5 for healthier looking and feeling skin. Leaves the skin moisturized with a soft, matte finish.


Active: Octinoxate (7.5%), Octisalate (3.6%), Zinc Oxide (4.3%) Other: Water, Glycerin, Ethylhexyl Isononanoate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Silyburn Marnum Extract, Caffeine, Tocopheryl Acetate, Panthenol, Allantoin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium PCA, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Cetearyl Glucoside, Polyether-1, Stearic Acid, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Polyisobutene, PEG-7 Trimethylolpropane Coconut Ether, Lactic Acid, 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

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.

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