Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50

$30 - 0.3 fl. oz.
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Skin Care > Retinol Products > Eye Moisturizers
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Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50 is SkinCeuticals first eye-area moisturizer with SPF, and it has some good qualities—as well as those we would consider more mundane than exciting. This contains gentle mineral sunscreen actives zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, so there's little risk of sensitivity or stinging around the eye area. It's also fragrance free, which is always a good thing for skin, but especially so for the delicate skin around the eyes.

A tint was added to the formula to offset the white cast mineral sunscreens tend to have—here it's advertised as a quality to "enhance your skin tone", but the effect is slight. The tint may be a little iffy for some—those with a medium to deep skin tone may find it lends a slight greyish cast, but as the tint is subtle any visible cast is easily fixed by applying a sheer layer of concealer or foundation on top.

The less appealing aspects of Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50 (and the reason why it earned a GOOD instead of a BEST) are that the formula is almost entirely lacking in antioxidants or reparative ingredients, and it provides little moisture to skin. In fact, this contains more talc than moisturizing ingredients, and as a result the finish is fairly matte. Those with even slightly dry skin around the eyes will find this works best only when applied over their regular moisturizer; otherwise, it might enhance fine lines and wrinkles rather than downplay them.

For the price and size, you should expect more in terms of beneficial anti-aging ingredients like antioxidants (especially important during the daytime to aid in warding off free-radical UV damage) or skin-identical ingredients to help replenish and repair skin.

SkinCeuticals points out that this formula contains ceramides, but in the form of 2-oleamido-1, 3-octadecanediol, a synthetic ceramide that has no research (that we could find) of demonstrated benefit for skin—it's primarily used in shampoos and conditioners. Even if it did have established benefit for skin, there is only a dusting present here.

Bottom line: While the Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50 does technically earn a GOOD rating, we would nonetheless encourage you to consider any well-formulated daytime moisturizer with a mineral-based SPF instead. In fact, other than a soufflé- like cream texture that quickly sets to a matte finish, this formula is shockingly similar to SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion Defense SPF 50, but at a fraction of the size and for nearly as much money. There's no reason the company's Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 cannot be applied around the eyes, too.

  • Broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen protection.
  • Fragrance free.
  • Has a soft, sheer tint to offset the white case mineral sunscreens tend to have.
  • Lacking in proven antioxidants, cell-communicating, and repairing ingredients.
  • Provides very little moisture (those with dry skin will need to layer this over their regular moisturizer).
  • Expensive for the amount of product you get and it's standard formula.

Delivering a new standard in eye care, this ophthalmologist-tested sunscreen defends, enhances, and optimizes the entire eye area, including the eye lid. Formulated specifically for the unique structure of the thinner and more sensitive skin around the eye, Physical Eye UV Defense provides broad spectrum SPF 50 protection without migrating into and irritating the eyes. A unifying tint enhances skin tone while ceramides nourish, creating a smooth, optimal canvas for makeup application.

Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 9%, Zinc Oxide 4%; Inactive Ingredients: Dimethicone, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Triethylhexanoin, Isohexadecane, Talc, Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, C30-45 Alkyldimethylsilyl Polypropylsilsesquioxane, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Aluminum Stearate, Alumina, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Iron Oxides, Phenoxyethanol, Silica Silylate, PEG-8 Laurate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, 2-Oleamido-1,3-Octadecanediol, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Paraffin, Aluminum Hydroxide.

With a strong presence in the professional (meaning spa and aesthetics) skin-care market, SkinCeuticals has a mostly well-deserved reputation for producing serious-minded, research-driven products, several of which are centered on L-ascorbic acid. Company founder Dr. Sheldon Pinnell began the line after a falling out with the folks behind Cellex-C, a company for which Dr. Pinnell once served as spokesperson. The falling out had to do with both Cellex-C and Dr. Pinnell holding patents on L-ascorbic acid; Cellex-C held the patent on a formula with L-ascorbic acid (the original Cellex-C serum) while Dr. Pinnell's patent (now conspicuously absent from SkinCeuticals products) was only for the ingredient. The drama continued as, years later, the doctor who joined Pinnell to work on SkinCeuticals' vitamin C products began his own company, also selling products with vitamin C. Who needs Desperate Housewives when we have desperate doctors racing to be the authoritative word on the anti-aging properties of vitamin C?

The good news is that copious research has demonstrated that L-ascorbic acid (despite its stability issues, which, formula-wise, SkinCeuticals products do address) is a good, potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It has also been shown to provide photoprotective benefits when skin is exposed to UV light and is capable of stimulating collagen production - though don't take that to mean it is a cure for wrinkles (Sources: International Journal of Toxicology, 2005, supplement, pages 51–111; Experimental Dermatology, June 2003, pages 237–244; Dermatologic Surgery, March 2002, pages 231–236; Bioelectrochemistry and Bioenergetics, May 1999, pages 453–461; and International Journal of Radiation Biology, June 1999, pages 747–755). Of course, other forms of vitamin C have equally impressive research, and some forms, such as magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, have better stability profiles (Source: Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, March 1997, pages 795–801).

As we've mentioned before, vitamin C is but one of many good antioxidants, and it's not the best approach to select any one or two antioxidants and bank on them alone to provide every conceivable skin-rejuvenating benefit. Instead, go for products that offer a cocktail of antioxidants because you'll get a greater range of benefits. Plus, some antioxidants in combination have a synergistic effect that surpasses what occurs when any of the ingredients are used alone. SkinCeuticals clearly knows this, because their vitamin C products also contain the antioxidant ferulic acid, and some add vitamin E to the mix as well. Above all, remember that as multifunctional as antioxidants are, they cannot stop aging, they won't eliminate wrinkles, and they do not replace the need for daily sun protection.

L'Oreal purchased SkinCeuticals in May 2005, and, for the time being, seems to be letting them stay on their course. That's a good thing, because despite L'Oreal’s considerable financial reserves and global R&D team, the skin-care products their brands produce consistently lag behind what current research indicates are state-of-the-art options. As long as they continue to let SkinCeuticals retain its stature, there are many good reasons to shop this line; however, that said, this line is far from perfect in terms of being able to assemble a complete skin-care routine. Focusing on what they do best (which is serums, sunscreens, and specialty products) will be money well spent for visible results. Those who find the SkinCeuticals price tags to be a deal-breaker need to know that despite several notable products, they're hardly the only game in town; you can find equally superior products for less money, though not all of them follow the impressive concentration protocols of SkinCeuticals.

For more information about SkinCeuticals, call 1-800-771-9489 or visit

Member Comments

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  1. How would you rate the results? (4 = Best)

    4 / 4 Best
  2. Was this product a good value? (4 = Best)

    2 / 4 Average
  3. Would you recommend this product? (4 = Best)

    4 / 4 Best
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  1. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Thursday, June 26, 2014
    • Value
      2 / 4
    • Results
      4 / 4
    • Recommend
      4 / 4
    Very good !
    • The texure is nice, like a cream, not a lotion. It glides on the skin without having to rub, it's really matte and smoothing. No irritation whatsoever - and my eyes usually don't like sunscreens. So far the best I've found, but for the price.

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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