Neutrogena claims Visibly Even BB Cream "helps to brighten skin and minimize the look of discolorations, dark spots, blotchiness and blemish marks."
The brightening aspect comes into play with the light-reflective, shimmering finish. While that might look good in some areas (under the eyes, cheekbones), it's a bit much for all over wear. The creamy, liquid texture goes on sheer so skin tone is evened out a smidge, but not enough to camouflage blemishes and discolorations.
Currently two shades are offered, Fair to Light and Light to Medium. Both initially appear a tad peachy but blend into skin for natural looking color. The moisturizing formula is best for normal to dry skin and leaves skin looking a bit dewy, which oily skin types definitely don't need.
A major downfall of this BB cream is its highly fragranced formula. It's a mix of a floral and soapy smell which is not only likely to be annoying to your olfactory senses, but it will likely be irritating on skin (see More Info). Worse yet, despite claims that this contains broad spectrum sun protection, it doesn't contain the ingredients needed to shield skin from the sun's entire range of UVA rays, which is essential for anti-aging benefits (see More Info for details on what to look for when shopping for sunscreens).
This BB cream also contains the preservative methylisothiazolinone, which is a known sensitizer when used in leave-on products (Sources: Contact Dermatitis, December 2012, pages 334-341 and November 2011, pages 276-285).
For something that is supposed to be benefiting your skin, Visibly Even BB Cream falls woefully short. See our list of Best BB Creams for a list of superior choices.
- Creamy texture and moisturizing feel for normal to dry skin.
- Fragranced formula poses a strong risk of irritation.
- Insufficient UVA (anti-aging) protection.
- Light-reflective, shimmering finish isn't the best for all over wear.
- Not enough coverage to hide skin imperfections as claimed.
- Contains a sensitizing preservative not recommended for use in leave-on products.
Irritation from 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 to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin. (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135 and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22.)
Insufficient sun protection: Visibly Even BB Cream SPF 30 does not include the ingredients needed to shield your skin from the sun's entire range of damaging UVA rays, which is essential for anti-aging benefits. Any SPF-rated product should contain one or more of these UVA-protecting ingredients listed as "active": avobenzone, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, Mexoryl SX (ecamsule) or Tinosorb (Sources: Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences, December 2011, pages 81–90; Cosmetic Dermatology, Second Edition, Baumann, Leslie MD, McGraw Hill, 2009, pages 246–252; American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, Supplement, 2009, pages 19–24; The Encyclopedia of Ultraviolet Filters, Shaath, Nadim A., Allured Publishing, 2007; and Photodermatology, Photoimmunology, and Photomedicine, October 2003, pages 242–253).
Active: Homosalate (5%), Octinoxate (7.5%), Octisalate (5%), Oxybenzone (2%). Other: Water, Phenyl Trimethicone, PPG-3 Myristyl Ether Neoheptanoate, Butylene Glycol, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Glycerides, Silica, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Caprylyl Glycol, Isohexadecane, Bisabolol , Fragrance, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Cetearyl Glucoside, Citric Acid, p-Anisic Acid, Polysorbate 20, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides, Sodium PCA, Urea, Cetyl Hydroxyethylcellulose, Polysorbate 60, Tetrasodium EDTA, Xanthan Gum, Hexylene Glycol, Trehalose, Polyquaternium-51, Methylisothiazolinone, Triacetin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Titanium Dioxide, Mica, Iron Oxides.
Johnson & Johnson–owned Neutrogena has been around for over 50 years, and they've come a long way since they launched their first transparent, bronze, detergent-based bar soap (it also contains tallow). The bars are still sold, and while we still don't recommend them (they are too drying for all skin types), the good news is that Neutrogena has come a very long way from where they started. In fact, several of their products represent truly state-of-the-art options.
Strolling the skin-care aisles of any drugstore or mass-market store reveals that Neutrogena vies for shelf space and prominence with only one other brand, Procter & Gamble's Olay. For the most part, both companies offer a similar assortment of products, with Olay being slightly more focused on anti-aging products and Neutrogena going for broader appeal, offering a nearly equal amount of antiwrinkle and anti-acne products. Regrettably the latter category presents few viable options.
Where Neutrogena really excels (and has for years) is with water-soluble cleansers, AHAs, retinol, and sunscreen products. Their Healthy Skin lineup offers some beautifully formulated moisturizers with glycolic acid, and the sunscreens offer something for everyone, including some ingenious options for those with oily skin (or anyone who finds the texture of high-SPF products as unappealing as slathering your skin with Crisco).
A recent self-proclaimed advance in sun protection came with Neutrogena's Helioplex complex. It is not the superior breakthrough Neutrogena makes it out to be. It's a good system to keep avobenzone stable for longer, but Helioplex isn't the only way to get the most out of this important UVA sunscreen. If it were, why didn't Neutrogena scrap all of their other sunscreens that don't use Helioplex technology? And why do they still offer a handful of SPF-rated products that leave skin vulnerable to UVA damage? Although they offer a proportionately greater number of sunscreens that provide excellent UVA protection, it's hard to unequivocally deem them a sun-care leader when they still sell inadequate sunscreens.
It's common to see commercials and magazine ads for Neutrogena's plethora of products designed to combat breakouts and blackheads. It's nothing short of amazing that, after all these years, the majority of these products, while well intentioned, still don't get it right. Far too many of them contain irritating ingredients such as alcohol, witch hazel, and menthol, none of which are the least bit helpful for someone struggling with breakouts. If your dermatologist recommends these products for acne without reservation, definitely consider a second opinion! Even Neutrogena's on-the-spot benzoyl peroxide product contains some potentially problematic thickening agents. Despite this, if you choose carefully, there are some great products (including a BHA lotion) that can make a positive difference.
What's most frustrating and, frankly, surprising, is that Neutrogena's enormous assortment of products represents both the best and the worst the cosmetics industry has to offer. Given their worldwide distribution and research capabilities, they really should be offering a consistent range of effective, irritant-free products to address a variety of skin types and conditions. As things stand now, healthy, protected skin is only assured if you know which Neutrogena products to look for and which ones to never put in your shopping cart.
For more information about Neutrogena, owned by Johnson & Johnson, call (800) 582-4048 or visit www.neutrogena.com.
Neutrogena's "beautiful and beneficial" pronouncement is a great tag line, but most of their makeup doesn't live up to that assertion. This line was lacking in several key areas when it first hit store shelves in 1999, and although some things have improved, the number of problematic products is a bit startling. (I'm not aware of any cosmetic line that uses menthol or its derivatives as often as Neutrogena.) Each product carries on about the vitamins it contains, yet compared to the leading roles played by cosmetic staples like silicones and thickening agents, the vitamins have mere cameo roles, and as such have little to no impact.
There are a few key items to seek out, especially if you're looking for makeup with excellent sun protection. We also found their lip gloss to be one of the best at any price, and a few of their foundations successfully bridge the gap between skin care and makeup.
The most frustrating aspect of this line is that almost all of it is packaged so you cannot see the color. Even worse, the color swatch on the box is a poor representation, not only of how the color looks in the compact, but also how it looks on your skin. What would truly be beneficial is for Neutrogena to offer more revealing packaging or provide testers or offer trial sizes. Their overall collection and in-store displays aren't nearly as tempting as most other drugstore makeup lines, so in most cases they're relying on their constant magazine and television ads to drive shoppers to explore the world of Neutrogena makeup, or they're relying solely on those who don't mind guessing what color they are really buying. It's obviously working, because despite the problematic elements, this is a line that has survived and is very well distributed.