Photoderm AR SPF 50+
This fragrance-free, water-resistant, sheer tinted sunscreen comes in only one color, making it a decent option for fair to light skin. Like other Bioderma sunscreens, it provides broad-spectrum protection from its mix of avobenzone (listed as butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane) and Tinosorb (listed as methylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenyl). Tinosorb is a UVA-protecting sunscreen ingredient approved for use throughout Europe, but not yet in the United States—although why it's not approved in the United States is a good question, as it's been safely used for years in many other parts of the world. Technically, Bioderma shouldn't sell it in the United States, but, in this case flying under the radar isn't a bad thing for your skin.
This is easy to apply and has a light finish best for normal to combination skin, but you don't get much else beyond the sun protection. Although the formula contains antioxidants, they're listed after the skin irritant denatured alcohol, so their benefit for skin is likely negligible. We doubt the amount of alcohol is high enough to be cause for concern, but it could increase the sensitizing potential of the sunscreen ingredients.
- Provides broad-spectrum sun protection.
- Contains more alcohol than beneficial antioxidants and water-binding agents.
- The amount of synthetic sunscreen ingredients can be sensitizing for many people.
The maximum anti-UVB efficacy and unmatched "extreme anti-UVA" performance of Photoderm AR safely protect against sunburn and combats premature cutaneous ageing.
Strengths: Bioderma provides complete product ingredient lists on their site; some very good, fragrance-free facial cleansers; every sunscreen provides sufficient broad-spectrum protection, and most are fragrance-free; a few good mattifying products for oily skin; great prices.
Weaknesses: The endless array of moisturizers are ordinary; the claims don't match what the formulas can actually do; repetitive sunscreen formulas; many of the sunscreens contain a potentially problematic amount of denatured alcohol; disappointing lightening products lacking ingredients that can lighten brown spots; the bronzing SPF products encourage tanning.
Bioderma is a European brand based in France and sold in 70 countries around the world, which explains why we get so many requests to review the brand!
According to information on their website, the team at Bioderma has been collaborating with dermatologists and renowned international research centers for over 20 years, all to bring you products that are the most frequently prescribed by French dermatologists. Sounds impressive, but the proof is in the products, not the posturing!
The Bioderma range is huge, but also hugely repetitive. Few brands offer as many cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreens as Bioderma, yet the onslaught creates a lot of confusion, and the differences between many of these formulas are subtle to indistinguishable. There are some good products, but overall the formulas are lackluster. When shopping this line, you really have to choose carefully and not get too hung up on the various names and claims because often virtually the same product formula comes with different benefits on the label, again and again. And again.
Many people with sensitive skin ask us about Bioderma, perhaps because the company frequently mentions that their products are hypoallergenic. That term hypoallergenic is misleading, as explained below.
There are no accepted testing methods, ingredient restrictions, regulations, guidelines, rules, or procedures of any kind, anywhere in the world, for determining whether or not a product qualifies as being hypoallergenic. So, any company can label any product hypoallergenic because there is no regulation that says they cant, no matter what so-called evidence they may use to make their point, and what proof can they provide given there is no standard against which to measure?
Given that there are no regulations governing hypoallergenic products, we know there are plenty of products labeled hypoallergenic that actually contain problematic ingredients and that can indeed trigger allergic reactions, even for those with no previous history of skin sensitivity and that's certainly true for many Bioderma products. We wish that weren't the case, but the word hypoallergenic gives you no reliable understanding of what you are or aren't putting on your skin.
That being said, we applaud Bioderma for avoiding the use of known sensitizing ingredients like peppermint, lavender, menthol, and all types of citrus, which unfortunately are rampant in the world of skin care. Many Bioderma products are also fragrance-free and in that sense are absolutely worth a look, whether sensitive skin is an issue or not. (Fragrance-free is best for all skin types.)
Despite the huge number of products, there are some surprising holes in the Bioderma line. For example, this isn't a line to shop if you're struggling with breakouts, there are no effective AHA or BHA exfoliants, the skin-lightening products have drawbacks that don't make them worth considering over better options, and you wont find advanced anti-aging formulations of any kind. You're in luck if you want lots of choices in cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreens, but as mentioned above, there's a lot to wade through, and much of it is repetitive. Were all for brands offering choices for different skin types, concerns, and textures (such as gel versus lotion), but Biodermas range simply isn't as varied as it is large. A large mix of relatively wishy-washy formulations is really not a plus for your skin.
For more information about Bioderma, visit www.bioderma.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.