This daytime moisturizer with sunscreen is an average formula for normal to dry skin. The best part is that it contains stabilized avobenzone for reliable UVA (think anti-aging) protection. Given the name, this product should’ve been a lot smarter—and it would have been if it contained a broad range of antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients!
Although this product has an attractive price point, there are lots of other daytime moisturizers with sunscreen that have better formulas (and in the same price range); please see our list of Best Moisturizers with Sunscreen for options.
Southernwood (another name for the plant wormwood) extract is listed by its Latin name Artemisia abrotanum. It is the active ingredient in the alcoholic drink absinthe. Consuming wormwood via absinthe offers a mix of pros and cons for your health, with the cons dominating (e.g., kidney failure and brain damage are possible outcomes of excess wormwood consumption). With no research proving it does anything helpful for your skin, a “smarter” choice would have been to include plant extracts that have proven benefit, such as antioxidants or anti-irritants; but again, any potential benefits are rinsed down the drain.
Formulated with antioxidant Southernwood extract, Smart Essentials Daily Nourishing Moisturizer with SPF30 helps keep what’s good for your skin in and what’s bad out, replenishing and helping to protect your skin wherever the day takes you . In fact, in a clinical study 100% of women showed an improvement in the look of stressed skin.
Active: Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (12%), Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (1.7%), Oxybenzone (3%), Other: Water, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Candelilla/Jojoba/Rice Bran Polyglyceryl 3 Esters, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Silica, Glyceryl Stearate, Hydrolyzed Caesalpinia Spinosa Gum, Fragrance, Chlorphenesin, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Cellulose Gum, Sodium PCA, Urea, Cetyl Hydroxyethylcellulose, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sodium Stearoyl Lactate, Artemisia Abrotanum Extract (Flower/Leaf/Stem), Disodium EDTA, Panthenol, Tocopherol Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Caesalpinia Spinosa Gum, Polyquaternium 51, Trehalose, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopherol, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid
Strengths: A few good cleansers and sunscreen products; fantastic Skin Relief Healing Ointment and soothing bath wash products; a handful of well-formulated baby-care products.
Weaknesses: Well-intentioned but ineffective anti-acne products; reliance on a single showcased ingredient (typically soy) that makes their anti-aging products less enticing than the competition; ineffective products to address hyperpigmentation; formulas packaged in a jar won’t remain stable.
Beginning with its first product in 1945, Soothing Bath Treatment, still sold today as part of the company's Baby line of products, Aveeno has prided itself on using natural ingredients. In some ways, they were a pioneer in the field, though for years the only natural ingredient of note in their products was oatmeal. Consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson purchased the brand in 1999, and wasted almost no time expanding it. A handful of bar cleansers and bath products were spun off into complete collections of facial-care products and an ever-growing number of body lotions and washes, not to mention shaving gels (Aveeno is one of the few companies whose shaving gels are truly fragrance-free).
Not surprisingly, many of the facial-care products from Aveeno are similar to those from Johnson & Johnson–owned Neutrogena. The differences typically lie in the natural ingredients each brand promotes. A cornerstone ingredient for Aveeno is soy, while Neutrogena has experimented (with varying degrees of success) with copper, retinol, salicylic acid, and melibiose. Overall, Neutrogena has a much larger and more comprehensive selection of products, though their formulas are also more problematic. Aveeno would do well to diversify a bit, or at least acknowledge that it takes more than a single star ingredient to provide superior skin-care products. As is, most of their anti-wrinkle products don't compete favorably with the more well-rounded options, not just from Neutrogena but also from Olay, Dove, and, in some respects, L'Oreal.
Getting back to the issue of soy, you'll see from the reviews it is indeed a helpful ingredient for skin—just not in the same multifaceted, does-everything manner Aveeno touts on each soy-containing product's package. A big proponent for Aveeno's use of soy is dermatologist Dr. Jeannette Graf. She is quoted on Aveeno's web site, stating that "It is now clear that the ability of natural soy to deliver multiple benefits to skin plays a lead role in high performance skin care." That sounds great but it doesn't explain why Aveeno ignores research on countless other antioxidants, skin-identical ingredients, or cell-communicating ingredients, all elements Dr. Graf uses in her separate, namesake product line. Interestingly, with Graf's own products relying on a blend of efficacious ingredients, including soy, it's a good question why she decided to endorse Aveeno's one-note soy products.
The bottom line is that when it comes to shopping for skin-care products at the drugstore, Aveeno, for all its talk of being a leader in "Active Naturals," doesn't have the all-inclusive product assortment needed to take the best possible care of your skin. However, paying attention to their top offerings is time (and money) well-spent!
For more information about Aveeno, owned by Johnson & Johnson, call (866) 428-3366 or visit www.aveeno.com.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
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