Neutrogena ultra sheer face sunscreen SPF 50+
Neutrogena,  sunscreen

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face Sunscreen SPF 50+

the claim

Neutrogena claims that its Ultra Sheer Face SPF50+ Sunscreen Liquid-Lotion provides very high sun protection stabilised with HELIOPLEX® technology. It provides balanced broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection against skin-aging UVA and burning UVB rays in a water light formula. This lightweight liquid lotion is oil free, PABA-Free and non-comedogenic leaving your face free from that thick and greasy sunscreen feeling leaving a weightless, matte finish so skin can breathe.

the science

The Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face SPF50+ Sunscreen Liquid-Lotion is what we call a chemical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens allow harmful UV rays to absorb the skin but transform them into harmless light or heat wavelengths. For a refresher on the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens, please review this previous post.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face SPF50+ Sunscreen Liquid-Lotion
Several sunscreen ingredients have been included in this formulation to achieve a sun protection factor of 50+. Many are insufficiently effective alone however in combination, offer good coverage. At the highest level of 6% is Octocrylene, a globally approved sunscreen agent that neutralizes UV radiation. Due to its emollient properties, it also has a moisturising effect on skin. It is often found in combination with Butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, more commonly known as Avobenzone which protects skin against the full spectrum of UVA radiation. It absorbs rays and converts them to energy that is less damaging to the skin.

Both Octyl Salicylate (also known as Ethylhexyl salicylate) and Homosalate , absorb UVB radiation but offer no protection against UVA rays. The former also serves as a fatty alcohol, adding emollient and oil-like (water resistant) properties to the formulation.

Oxybenzone is found in approximately 80% of chemical sunscreens. It absorbs both UVA and UVB radiation. It additionally assists to preserve the integrity of other ingredients, preventing their deterioration under the sun (Octyl Salicylate, Homosalate and Avobenzone all show such degradation). Research has shown that it stays in our bodies for an unknown amount of time and studies indicate that it is present in almost all of us at some concentration. The EWG Database rates it an alarming 8 on the hazard scale, their concerns raised due to links to hormone disruption and cell damage potential which may lead to skin cancer.

All synthetic sunscreen actives can be sensitizing for some people.
Sunscreen chemical toxicity

the ingredients

Octocrylene 6.0%, Octyl Salicylate 4.5%, Oxybenzone 4.5%, Homosalate 4.0%, Butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane 2.7%, chlorphenensin, phenoxyethanol, hydroxybenzoates
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face SPF50+ Sunscreen Liquid-Lotion Ingredients

the packaging

The Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face Sunscreen Liquid-Lotion SPF 50+ comes in an 88ml plastic squeeze tube.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face SPF50+ Sunscreen Liquid-Lotion packaging

the analysis

As expected following from the science discussion, both the CosDNA report and the EWG Reports give this sunscreen a moderate hazard rating.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face SPF50+ Sunscreen Liquid-Lotion CosDNA Analysis

the application

Apply liberally to all exposed areas 15 to 20 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply frequently and after swimming, excessive perspiration, toweling or prolonged sun exposure.

the scent

This product has no detectable scent.

the cost

The 88ml Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face SPF50+ Sunscreen Liquid-Lotion sells for AUD$16.99.

the availability

The Neutrogena sunscreen can be purchased broadly online or alternatively from pharmacies, department stores and supermarkets.

the expiry

I believe the product has a three year shelf life with the use by date embossed at the top on the straight edge of the tube.

the performance

The Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face SPF50+ Sunscreen Liquid-Lotion comes typically packaged for such a product. The pop open tube allows for easy dispensing of the correct amount of sunscreen without having to dip into the product with fingers, thus keeping it sufficiently hygienic and easy to pop in your bag. The cost is reasonable considering both the volume and the comparison to competitor pricing. It’s also often on sale from stockists (sometimes up to 50% off) so its worth keeping your eye out.

The cream doesn’t have any detectable scent so it is not irritating from that perspective. It has enough glide to prevent tugging at my skin upon application which can often happen with sunscreen products. However, the less product remaining on the skin surface, the more tugging it displays. You need to work it into the skin to avoid noticable residue or white cast.

The chemical filters used in this product are quite old-school and not as gentle as some of the more innovative ones used in Asian sunscreens for instance. The red warning flags from EWG and CosDNA are always a concern worth investigation. But, any sunscreen is generally better than no sunscreen.

This product does what it’s supposed to do, provide good sun protection. I apply it in the morning and then re-coat every 2-3 hours if I’m regularly outside throughout the course of the day. I’m likely to use a weaker and gentler sunscreen if spending time primarily indoors, so as to limit my exposure to sunscreen actives whilst still receiving lesser but sufficient radiation protection.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face SPF50+ Sunscreen Liquid-Lotion consistency
After it’s fully absorbed which takes only a few minutes, my face feels smooth and powdery soft and ready for sun exposure 15-20 minutes later, with or without a layer of makeup. I don’t find it uncomfortable to wear alone or under makeup (although it should be noted I am a very light makeup wearer), as it fails to leave any greasy or oily residue, instead leaves a soft, near matte finish. Due to the fact that it’s a liquid-lotion, it is however impossible to reapply with makeup on so an alternative sunscreen must be used to remain protected. As with all sunscreens, be careful not to apply it too close to your eyes as you don’t want perspiration or rubbing to result in actual eye exposure because its not a pleasant experience. This causes painful stinging and watering that needs to be immediately flushed away with running water.

the conclusion

Sunscreens are absolutely necessary for the protection of skin and the prevention of premature ageing. I’m always on the look out for affordable choices that don’t interfere with makeup application or leave a white cast but at the same time, provide an effective, high SPF protection. This one from Neutrogena fulfils this purpose.

Although this is a good sunscreen, it definitely lacks the elegance, gentle nature and innovative approach of Asian sunscreens. As such, I won’t be repurchasing this one, and managed to finish it on my body.

the summary

Pros Cons
Non drying, non greasy, non oily Impossible to reapply if wearing makeup
Quick absorption Research divided as to whether chemicals within are safe over the long term
Effective at sun protection Requires working into the skin
Easily available, often discounted
Suitable for all skin types


the references

Neutrogena website
Octocrylene Paula’s Choice Skincare Dicctionary
Octocrylene The Dermatology Review
Ethylhexyl Salicylate Truth In Aging
Check Your Sunscreen Label For These 7 Ingredients Annmarie Skincare
What Is Oxybenzone and Why Is it in Sunscreen? Goddess Garden Organics
Chemical UVB sunscreen/sunblock: homosalate
Avobenzone The Dermatology Review


the disclaimer

Please read in context with my disclaimer.


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