Sheer Physical Sunscreen Cream SPF 50
2 fl. oz. for $29
Last Updated:04.01.2015
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

This daytime moisturizer with sunscreen is another outstanding product from the Topix Replenix line—a brand whose SPF products consistently impress us.

The "Physical" in Sheer Physical Sunscreen Cream SPF 50 refers to its active ingredient zinc oxide, a mineral that shields skin much like a blanket would, hence the term "physical." In contrast, sunscreen actives such as avobenzone are often labeled "chemical" sunscreens because the manner in which they work involves a chemical reaction. However, physical sunscreens (titanium dioxide is the other one) are chemicals, too, so don't construe that such SPF products are "chemical-free" because that's not the case. Everything around us is composed of chemicals; "chemicals" is not a bad word!

Name aside, this fragrance-free sunscreen has a creamy -smooth texture best for normal to dry skin. The gentle formula and the choice of zinc oxide as the sole active ingredient also makes this a winning option for those with sensitive or rosacea-affected skin.

Worth noting is that the amount of zinc oxide (which in this case does not leave a telltale white cast) lends a matte finish, yet this product remains slightly moist on skin, something those with oily skin may find too heavy. Contrary to claim, you will be aware you have this on; it's not that light!

As with all of the Replenix SPF products we rated highly, this contains a very good mix of antioxidants with lots of research behind their use in products like this. Such ingredients are important additions to a sunscreen because they enhance its effectiveness while helping to defend skin against free radicals, which are generated every time skin is exposed to UV light.

Note: Because this product is regulated in the United States as an over-the-counter drug, its inactive ingredients are listed in alphabetical order rather than in descending order of content. Although this is allowable, we have far more respect for companies that choose instead to list their non-active sunscreen ingredients in descending order of concentration, so you know more about what you are putting on your face, just like with any other skin-care or makeup product.

  • Provides broad-spectrum sun protection.
  • Contains several tried-and-true antioxidants.
  • Fragrance-free.
  • Cosmetically elegant, wonderfully silky texture is easy to apply and wears well under makeup.
  • The zinc oxide does not leave a telltale white cast.
  • The ingredient label is in alphabetical order instead of descending order of concentration, so you can't tell how much of any ingredient, whether it's good or bad, you are actually putting on your face.

Formulated with anti-aging antioxidants, including green tea polyphenols, resveratrol, vitamin C, emblica and Co-Q10, as well as the best physical sun blockers, your skin will stay looking younger for longer, while being protected from sunburn and other sun damage. Lightweight and residue-free, you won’t even notice you’re wearing it.


Active Ingredient: 13.75% Zinc Oxide; Inactive Ingredients: Acrylates Crosspolymer-4, Ascorbic Acid, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Biotin, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Polyphenols, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteth-10 Phosphate, Cetyl PEG/PPG 10/1 Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dicetyl Phosphate, Disodium EDTA, Emblica Officinalis Fruit Extract, Glyceryl Isostearate, Lauryl PEG/PPG-18/18 Methicone, Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate, Phenoxyethanol, Phospholipids, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Potassium Hydroxide, Purified Water, Retinyl Palmitate, Resveratrol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q-10), Xanthan Gum.

Brand Overview

Strengths: Most of the products are fragrance-free; packaging keeps light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable during use; several good products with retinol in varying strengths; good moisturizers and cleansers; very good body lotions.

Weaknesses: Expensive; the physician allure may seem enticing, but these products do not require a doctor’s visit or medical supervision; no AHA or BHA exfoliants; no viable skin-lightening options; fragrant toners.

Replenix is a sub-brand of Topix Pharmaceuticals. For more information on Topix, including reviews, please visit its brand page here on Beautypedia.

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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Good sunscreen but not a moisturizer!

I have very sensitive eyes, and, thankfully, I can use this sunscreen without irritating my eyes. Also, it's not as sticky and white as some zinc oxide sunscreens (like Vanicream, for example). However, it can't be used by itself as a moisturizer. When I tried to spread foundation over it, the foundation dragged. I had to start over and add a moisturizer. I'd like to keep using the sunscreen if I can figure out the "layering" process.

Reviewed by
Star S.

Hope this works because it's hard to find a physical sunscreen with good ingredients. It's a thick cream but it goes on smoothly--contrary to PC review it does NOT stay moist. Absorbs quickly to a matte finish. Looks like I very lightly dusted on powder. Feels like nothing on my skin, no shine ever. Problem I have is when putting foundation or even just powder over it, it balls up and flakes. I use only PC products, have dry, rosacea prone, VERY sensitive skin. Going to keep trying it.

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