Tested on animals:No
SuperGoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist with Rosemary SPF 50 claims to provide a "boost" of broad-spectrum SPF 50 via a refreshing mist that can be applied over makeup, helping to control oil along the way. (It's an almost too-good-to-be-true marketing claim.) Unfortunately, the reality of this product doesn't live up to its promise, a fact made even worse by its inclusion of multiple potentially irritating ingredients and the risk of inhalation that this formula presents.
Let's take a closer look at each of the claims.
Claim #1: "Broad-spectrum SPF 50." This formula does provide broad-spectrum protection via a combination of non-mineral sunscreen actives—avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate and octisalate—with the ingredient butyloctyl salicylate to ensure stability. However, we should note that it isn't recommended to spray sunscreens directly on the face due to the risk of inhalation, a safety concern that the FDA is currently taking a closer look at (U.S. Food & Drug Administration, 2013).
Now, what about that "makeup setting" promise?
Claim #2: "Sets makeup." Makeup setting sprays can be a confusing concept due to the fact there is no universal definition for this category of products. Some are designed to prolong the wear of your makeup with film-forming agents or hairspray-like ingredients. These types of ingredients can be irritating, making these setting sprays, at best, more for the rare special occasion use versus the everyday. Other variations are more akin to toners, which can be spritzed on to aid in blending makeup (softening the look of an over-powdered face, for example).
Defense Refresh Setting Mist SPF 50 doesn't contain any ingredients that make it able to prolong the wear of makeup. There is a tiny amount of the film-forming agent PVP (polyvinylpyrrolidone), but in this concentration, it isn't enough to replicate the performance of setting sprays like those from Urban Decay, the brand that arguably popularized the concept of hairspray-like setting formulas.
Claim# 3: "Oil Control." This spray does have a dry finish and feels light on skin, which it owes to an alcohol-based formula and dry finish solvents (isododecane). Alcohol does help dissolve oil on the surface of skin; unfortunately, it also goes further to disrupt the skin's barrier when used at this excessive amount. See More Info additional details.
So, claim #3 is technically accurate, but only in a "let's throw the baby out with the bathwater" context. Absorbing excess oil is a nice benefit in a product for those of us who battle shine, but to do it at the expense of the health of skin is quite another.
With that fact in mind, we'll take a moment to note a fact that may surprise you—Defense Refresh Setting Mist SPF 50 is actually no different from any average, alcohol-based spray sunscreen. That's right, there isn't anything revolutionary about this formula as brands like Coppertone have been selling variations of it for years. For example, the Coppertone Clearly Sheer for Beach & Pool Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+ and MDSolarSciences Quick Dry Body Spray With SolSci-X Broad Spectrum SPF 40 both have a nearly identical ingredient list, only they cost much less and don't have nearly the degree of fragrance that this formula does.
The fragrance in this formula comes from the blend of three essential oils, peppermint, spearmint, and rosemary leaf. Essential oils are particularly problematic due to their greater concentration of volatile compounds, which at their degree here, serves to exacerbate the damage done by the alcohol. See More Info for details on fragrance irritants.
It's ironic that a product with anti-aging claims, as this one has, would include such a pro-aging degree of ingredients. For that reason, as well as the concerning recommendation that this be regularly sprayed onto the face (which can be a risk in terms of inhalation), Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist SPF 50 earns our lowest rating and isn't recommended. It's a nice concept, but if you really want to boost your degree of sun protection over the course of the day, consider a pressed or loose powder with SPF instead.
- Provides broad-spectrum SPF 50.
- Lightweight finish.
- Contains a high amount of skin-damaging alcohol.
- Contains multiple potentially irritating essential oils.
- Directions recommend spraying this directly onto the face, which may be a health risk.
- Is really just an ordinary, alcohol-based spray sunscreen.
Alcohol-Based Skincare Products: Alcohol helps ingredients like retinol and vitamin C penetrate into the skin more effectively, but it does that by breaking down the skin's barrier—destroying the very substances that keep your skin healthy over the long term (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 2012 and Journal of Hospital Infection, 2003).
A significant amount of research shows alcohol causes free-radical damage in skin even at low levels (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 2012). Small amounts of alcohol on skin cells in lab settings (about 3%, but keep in mind skin-care products contain amounts ranging from 5% to 60% or greater) over the course of two days increased cell death by 26%. It also destroyed the substances in cells that reduce inflammation and defend against free radicals—this process actually causes more free-radical damage. If this weren't bad enough, exposure to alcohol actually causes skin cells to self-destruct (Alcohol, 2002).
Research also shows that these destructive, aging effects on skin cells increased the longer skin was exposed to alcohol; for example, two days of exposure was dramatically more harmful than one day, and that's at only a 3% concentration (Alcohol, 2002). In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).
For more on alcohol's (as in, ethanol, denatured alcohol, and ethyl alcohol) effects on skin, see the Paula's Choice Research Team's Expert Advice article on the topic, Alcohol in Skin Care: The Facts.
Irritation from High Amounts of Fragrance: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way for all skin types to go for all skin types (Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2008 & American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003).
The sneaky part about irritation is that research has demonstrated that you don't always need to see it or feel it for your skin to suffer damage, and that damage may remain hidden for a long time (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008).
In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).