Baby SPF 50 Unscented Moisturizer
Irritating ingredients and sensitizing fragrances aren't good for anyone's skin, but that is especially true for babies because of their extra-delicate skin. Baby SPF 50 Unscented Moisturizer from Coola is just what the doctor ordered in that regard: The formula provides broad-spectrum sun protection with mineral-based titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, no fragrance, in a gentle moisturizing base.
It also contains antioxidants that help ward off free-radical damage, something that will benefit people of all ages. This sunscreen is rated for 80 minutes of water resistance and comes in opaque, squeeze-tube packaging to help keep the air-sensitive ingredients stable.
So, why the AVERAGE rating? This water-based sunscreen lacks preservatives, which are essential for keeping products like this protected from pathogens. When we contacted Coola's customer service about this, here is the response we got:
"The Mineral Baby formula is 100% natural because it is non-water based, therefore it does not harbor bacteria so we were able to make it preservative free."
When we pointed out to them that the formula does indeed contain water, they gave us the runaround answer:
"Water is listed as an organic and inactive ingredient for our Mineral Baby formula, which utilizes Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide as the active ingredients. The water listed in the ingredients is not an active ingredient and is listed as inactive which helps to make up the 100% natural environmental shield."
What a crock of… well, baby poo! None of that makes sense on any level. Preservatives are needed in water-based formulas to prevent bacterial and microbial contamination - there are very few exceptions to this rule. Aside from the customer service babbling, either the ingredient list on the product isn't accurate (we can't imagine this kind of FDA-regulated formula meeting stability requirements given the ingredients on the label) or it's accurate and you should be wary.
On another side note: While the description for this product says it is formulated with "zero chemicals," that isn't the least bit accurate. Everything on earth is made up of chemicals in some way, shape, or form. When companies claim to be "chemical-free," they're just trying to portray a more "pure" or "green" way of formulating; in truth, however, all ingredients, even the natural ones, are made up of chemicals, so statements like that are highly misleading.
We also must mention that their "100% natural environmental shield" claim is bogus. Nowhere in nature will you find zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as used in sunscreens. Both stem from natural materials (titanium and zinc) that go through quite an unnatural process to make them safe, cosmetically elegant, and effective sunscreen actives. This also contains triethoxycaprylylsilane, which is about as natural as polyester.
The combination of misleading information and the absence of preservatives are what leads to this baby sunscreen receiving its less-than-stellar rating. Otherwise, the formula would be ideal for babies' delicate skin, but as is, it's not worth the risk.
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.
- Provides gentle, mineral broad-spectrum sun protection, ideal for a baby's skin.
- Contains antioxidants that help ward off free-radical damage.
- Soothing and moisturizing formula.
- Lack of preservatives puts skin at risk of bacterial or microbial contamination.
- Highly misleading "natural" and "chemical-free" claims.
Give your little one a 100% natural environmental shield that safeguards them from the suns harmful rays and pollutants like smog and dust. Designed especially for a babys delicate skin, this mineral SPF 50 with broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection contains over 70%+ certified organic inactives and absolutely zero chemicals or preservatives.
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 Birchbys 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 arent necessarily bad, either. Its always a sad day for us when we see yet another brand jumping on the bandwagon of maligning ingredients that research has shown arent the risk theyre making them out to be. It gives consumers the wrong idea of whats safe and whats not when theres 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 isnt the case with all Coola products, its 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 its 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 cant 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.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.