We have a love/hate relationship with this moisturizer's smell. While its yummy mango scent conjures up daydreams of being on a tropical beach somewhere, that's also part of its downfall. The highly fragrant formula poses a potential risk to skin that can leave it worse for the wear over time (see More Info for the full scoop).
Sadly, the disappointment doesn't stop there: Sport SPF 50 Fresh Mango Moisturizer also contains potentially irritating amounts of skin-damaging alcohol and arnica, which further compound the problems (click through to find out why those ingredients are bad for skin).
The formula contains several beneficial skin-rejuvenating ingredients and antioxidants that boost the effectiveness of its broad-spectrum sun protection, so it's a shame to see those good-for-skin ingredients joined by, shall we say, less desirable options!
If it weren't for the fragrance and the alcohol, we'd give this creamy, non-greasy formula a thumbs up for normal to combination skin, especially for those with an active lifestyle given that its tenacious formula is rated for 80 minutes of water resistance. Its opaque, squeeze-tube packaging helps keep the air- and light-sensitive ingredients stable, but that's a moot point given the irritants this contains.
So close, yet so far, Coola!
Note: Because this product is regulated in the United States as an over-the-counter drug, its inactive ingredients are listed in alphabetical order rather than in descending order of concentration. Although this is an accepted standard, we have more respect for companies that choose to list their inactive ingredients in descending order of concentration, so that the consumer is better informed about the potency of the ingredients that they are putting on their skin, just like with any other skin-care or makeup product.
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.)
Protect and boost your skin’s defense against aging caused by the sun with this 80 minute water resistant, Farm to Face® sourced broad spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen. This high performance and non-greasy lotion has a fresh mango scent and contains 70% certified organic ingredients that protect and repair sun damaged skin.
Active: Avobenzone (2.8%), Octinoxate (4.7%), Octisalate (4.9%), Octocrylene (7.7%). Other: Agave Americana Leaf Extract (ORGANIC), Alcohol (ORGANIC), Arnica Montana Flower Extract (ORGANIC), Beeswax (ORGANIC), Citric Acid, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (ORGANIC Orange) Fruit Water, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Fragrance, Glycerin (ORGANIC), Hydrogenated Methyl Abietate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Linum Usitatissimum (ORGANIC Linseed) Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (ORGANIC Avocado) Oil, Plankton Extract, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Sorbitol/Sebacic Acid Copolymer Behenate, Tocopherol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Xanthan Gum
Strengths: Products provide broad spectrum sun protection; opaque, air-tight packaging keeps air-sensitive ingredients stable; two especially great sunscreens.
Weaknesses: Majority of the products contain potential irritants and fragrance; misleading marketing claims about products not containing chemicals, but they do (every cosmetic ingredient is a chemical); sunscreen sprays are formulated with an alcohol base that can be damaging to skin; questionable SPF ratings on a few of the products; limited SPF options for those with dry skin.
The story of the Coola brand begins in 2004 when now-CEO Chris Birchby came up with the idea to create a simple sunscreen for surfers. As a former surf instructor who practically lived in the water, he understood the risks of sun damage. But those risks really hit home when both of his parents were diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, which mounting research has shown is largely due to unprotected sun exposure.
Birchby wanted his line to be sustainable, locally sourced, and organic. To some extent, his products do fit that bill, but not as much as the marketing makes it sound. There are plenty of synthetic ingredients in these products and the “sustainable” assertion doesn’t have any standard of acceptability, so that’s a loose claim at best.
Despite Birchby’s surfer dude background, Coola brand sunscreens are not practical for surfers. The price tags are relatively high, especially if you are spending entire days outdoors at the beach or in the water. Given that you must apply sunscreen liberally and must repeat application after 40 to 80 minutes in the water, that’s going to take a lot of sunscreen!
As a result, Coola is sold at spas and dermatology offices, as well as through various upscale websites. The line has expanded from traditional lotion sunscreen to include lip care, baby care, spray sunscreens, BB creams, and more.
One of the high notes of the Coola brand is that all of their products provide sufficient broad spectrum sun protection. Each formula also includes antioxidants and other skin-repairing or skin-soothing ingredients that benefit all skin types. The antioxidants provide added value when it comes to sun care because they help offset free-radical damage from UV rays.
Coola also did a great job on the packaging, offering opaque squeeze-tube or pump-style applicators that help keep the air- and light-sensitive ingredients (such as antioxidants) stable—no jars to be found here!
Coola also makes a big deal about their products NOT containing parabens and phthalates, but definitive research has shown that these ingredients are safe (click on their respective links for the full scoop); sadly, in some cases, fear sells better than facts.
They also call out that their products do NOT contain the somewhat controversial sunscreen active oxybenzone nor do their formulas contain nanoparticles, although those aren’t necessarily bad, either. It’s always a sad day for us when we see yet another brand jumping on the bandwagon of maligning ingredients that research has shown aren’t the risk they’re making them out to be. It gives consumers the wrong idea of what’s safe and what’s not when there’s rarely cause for concern.
What you should be concerned about are the volatile, fragrant, plant ingredients that Coola includes in many of their formulas, because these have the potential to irritate skin. Although this isn’t the case with all Coola products, it’s a pretty common occurrence. An even larger concern is that several products contain alcohol, which, while organic, is irritating to skin when present in high amounts—and potentially more so when it’s combined with synthetic active sunscreen ingredients.
Another marketing platform for the Coola brand is their use of organic ingredients. First, we hate it when companies fib about their products containing no chemicals because these products are not “zero chemicals.” We explain more about this in the individual reviews.
Moreover, there is no substantiated research showing that organic ingredients are superior to non-organic or synthetic ingredients. Plus, there are no FDA-approved standards for labeling cosmetics products as organic or not; nor is there an agreed-on definition from the cosmetics industry itself. Get the full scoop here. And perhaps most telling that this is merely a marketing issue for Coola is that they don’t really seem to think non-organic and/or synthetic ingredients are a problem—after all, they’re present in almost all of their products!
As for the products themselves, there are a couple real standouts, such as Face SPF 30 Cucumber Matte Finish and Face SPF 30 Unscented Matte Tint Natural BB Cream. The rest range from questionable to problematic, mostly due to their potential to irritate skin, although in some cases that potential is small, which we point out in the reviews.
We really do appreciate the idea behind the brand, but until they drop the irritating ingredients we can’t recommend the bulk of this line.
You can find Coola products throughout North America at spas, dermatology offices, Ulta, and Nordstrom, as well as on numerous websites. For more information about Coola, call 760.940.2125 or visit www.coolasuncare.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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