Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50
1.7 fl. oz. for $34
Last Updated:04.22.2015
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

This is a great and, for SkinCeuticals, surprisingly affordable daytime moisturizer with sunscreen. Gentle, broad-spectrum sun protection is supplied by the mineral sunscreens titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. This is also fragrance-free, which makes it good for those with sensitive or rosacea-affected skin.

In a smart move, SkinCeuticals added a soft, flesh-toned tint in an effort to eliminate the white cast most mineral-based sunscreens have. The fluid, sheer texture feels great and provides light hydration and a satin matte finish those with oily to combination skin will find appealing.

The texture and finish of this product means it works well under makeup, while the sheer tint has only a minimal effect on your foundation color. This can be worn alone without making your skin tone look “off” or dark; that is, unless you have porcelain skin, in which case you’ll look a bit tanned.

Note: This product is also sold in a larger size (4.2 ounces) for $65.

Additional Note: As of August 2015, Beautypedia has reached out to Skinceuticals (UK) twice for clarification as to if there is a UK-equivalent of this product. When we hear back, we will update this review to reflect this. Thank you for your patience!

  • Gentle, mineral-based active ingredients provide broad-spectrum sun protection.
  • Suitable for sensitive skin, including those with rosacea.
  • Tinted to avoid a telltale white cast.
  • Lightweight, silky texture doesn’t feel heavy and works great under makeup.
  • The formula lacks a potent mix of antioxidants to boost skin's environmental defenses.

A groundbreaking, weightless sunscreen featuring color-infused sunscreen technology that provides a universal tint and boosts daily radiance. PHYSICAL FUSION UV DEFENSE SPF 50 offers the photoprotection of trusted broad-spectrum, physical filters, zinc oxide (Z-COTE) and titanium dioxide, and is enhanced by artemia salina, a plankton extract, to increase the skin’s defenses and resistance to UV and heat stress.


Active: Titanium Dioxide (6%), Zinc Oxide (5%), Other: Water, Dimethicone, Isododecane, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Undecane, Triethylhexanoin, Isohexadecane, Nylon-12, Caprylyl Methicone, Butyloctyl Salicylate, Phenyl Benzoate, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Silica, Tridecane, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Dicaprylyl Ether, Talc, Dimethicone/PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer, Aluminum Stearate, Pentylene Glycol, PEG-9 Polydimtheylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Alumina, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Magnesium Sulfate, Caprylyl Glycol, Iron Oxides, PEG-8 Laurate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Triethoxycapylylsilane, Tocopherol, Propylene Carbonate, Artemia Extract, Benzoic Acid, C9-15 Fluoroalcohol Phosphate, PEG-9

Brand Overview

SkinCeuticals At-A-Glance

Strengths: Great line to shop if you're looking for well-formulated vitamin C and retinol products; some outstanding sunscreens (including for sensitive skin), and every one provides sufficient UVA protection; one effective AHA product; good self-tanner; several fragrance-free products.

Weaknesses: Mostly problematic cleansers and toners; fruit and sugar extracts trying to substitute for AHA products when the real deal is much better; ineffective BHA products; jar packaging.

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 www.skinceuticals.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.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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make a dupe of this with antioxidants

The sunscreen feels great. Light, easy to apply, with the right amount of tint. Suggestion: Paula's Choice makes a dupe of this product (tint, texture, mineral only)) but adds loads of antioxidants, which this product sadly lacks.

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Works well on my Oily skin

In my effort to find a sunscreen for my oily skin, I turned to this. I tried to other SkinCeuticals SPF and it stung my skin upon application. This one does not. It goes on thin and sheer and hides some of my broken capillaries, and while it does look oily at first, upon drying the finish is perfect. It doesn't seem to grease my face up as the hours pass.

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Great Suncreen, not a moisturizer

Great sunscreen with a thin, fluid consistency. Perfect for my sensitive, acne prone skin. FYI it does have that sunscreen smell and you will still need to moisturize prior to application. Regardless, this a must try.

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Favorite Skin Product

When I give this product a 4/4, I mean it relative to products I've tried. This isn't perfect, but for me it's the closest a facial sunscreen has come. I'm pale, combo skin with minimal acne (mild monthly hormonal breakouts); I don't need much coverage to even out my tone. This product protects my skin and provides excellent, matte coverage that makes me look polished. Complaints are it doesn't blend as well if my skin isn't well-exfoliated/washed and it's pricey.

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