Sheer Daily Protector Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA++++
The Sheer Daily Protector Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA++++ is a daytime moisturizer with sunscreen, and it's a winning combination for anyone with normal to oily, combination, or sensitive skin. The gentle, fragrance-free formula provides broad spectrum protection via mineral actives titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and it has a sheer, universally flattering (really) tint so there's no concern it'll leave a white cast or make darker skin look ashen.
Dispensed from an opaque plastic bottle via a "needle nose" applicator, the fluid formula (shake well before use!) is easy to apply, setting within a couple minutes to a soft matte finish that won't make skin look drab or dull, and it nicely sets the stage for makeup, too—you may find you can skip the foundation primer!
Along with mineral-based sun protection, this contains a host of water-binding and lightweight moisturizing ingredients along with some potent antioxidants, including the chief antioxidant in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), and two forms of vitamin E. Granted, seeing a greater range of antioxidants would be nice, but what's here is good.
Exuviance has crafted a wholly impressive daytime moisturizer. It provides gentle, broad spectrum sun protection from minerals titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, is easy to apply, there's no white cast (indeed, the tint is wonderfully sheer and workable for all skin tones), you get proven antioxidants, and it works well under makeup so you might just be able to skip the primer. Some may not care for the more obvious feel on skin once this sets, but that's a minor quibble for an overall stellar daytime moisturizer.
You may be wondering how this product compares to Skinceuticals' popular Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50, which contains nearly the same percentage of active ingredients. In essence, both are good and recommended for the same skin types; however, we give the tactile edge to the Skinceuticals product. It feels lighter and less like you're wearing sunscreen, which many people will prefer. On the other hand, ingredient-for-ingredient, Sheer Daily Protector SPF 50 has the formulary edge—hence why this formula earned its high rating. It may come down to personal preference, so if you're unsure, try both and return the one you don't like as much!
Note: The heavier thickening agents used (although this does have a fluid texture) makes this cautiously recommended for those with breakout-prone skin. It is suitable for rosacea-affected skin.
- Gentle, mineral-based active ingredients provide broad-spectrum sun protection.
- Fragrance-free formula is suitable for sensitive skin, including those with rosacea.
- Tinted to avoid a telltale white cast.
- Contains some proven antioxidants.
- Works well under makeup.
- Can feel a bit heavier on skin compared to competing products.
Protects against photodamage, the primary cause of signs of aging. An ultra-fine transparent mineral sunscreen in a virtually invisible universal tint smoothes imperfections and helps natural skin tone appear more even. Multi-Antioxidants vitamin E and lactobionic acid fortify skin's natural defense, scavenging free radicals brought on by daily environmental aggressors before they can cause premature aging.
Strengths: Huge assortment of AHA and PHA products, all with correct pH to exfoliate; sunscreens that include AHA and/or PHA at right pH and provide reliable broad-spectrum sun protection; good cleansers; some excellent serums and lightweight moisturizers; the Exuviance makeup products are worth a try if you need full coverage with sufficient sun protection.
Weaknesses: No BHA products (better for blemish-prone skin or for those who can't tolerate AHAs or PHA); no topical disinfectants (a basic for those with acne); all hydroquinone products have at least one major negative; irritating toners; jar packaging; potentially problematic self-tanning products; lip balms contain irritating spearmint oil; most NeoCeuticals products are terrible.
Exfoliation is the name of the game for this line! The original NeoStrata and Exuviance brands were created by Drs. Eugene Van Scott and Ruey Yu, the two researchers who own the original patent (actually, they hold over 80 patents) for the use of glycolic acid (AHA) in relation to its ability to diminish wrinkles, among other capabilities. Few lines offer reliable and effective formulations for exfoliation, so those that do deserve your attention. Well-formulated AHA products are those that have an effective concentration of AHAs and a base with an acidic pH that allows them to have maximum benefit. The exfoliation that AHAs provide reduces the thickness of the skin's outer layer, helping skin to quickly look smoother and feel softer, which in turn can solve many skin problems, including dryness, blemishes, sun damage, and skin discolorations. A good deal of research also shows that AHAs can help increase the thickness of the underlying layers of skin, improve skin structure, increase collagen production, and allow penetration of other skin-care ingredients. Moreover, NeoStrata is one of the only companies to sell a range of reliable sunscreens that also contain effective AHA formulations.
Both the NeoStrata (these products are reviewed separately) and Exuviance lines contain glycolic acid (AHA), but even more of these products contain a polyhydroxy acid (PHA) called gluconolactone (also patented by Scott and Yu), and for which similar claims are made. Gluconolactone is supposed to be gentler and longer acting than glycolic acid, and its delayed penetration is attributed to its larger molecular size. However, according to an article in Cosmetic Dermatology (July 1998), the skin can't tell the difference between the various effective AHAs, and the possibility of gluconolactone staying on the surface of skin longer than other AHAs did not prove out. So in terms of exfoliation and potential side effects, PHA ends up being as good as AHA. Gluconolactone may be slightly less irritating for some skin types, but this isn't quite the magic bullet for exfoliation NeoStrata claims, though it does indeed work when properly formulated (but so do glycolic and lactic acids). Another PHA NeoStrata uses is lactobionic acid. However, there is no definitive, published research establishing it as an effective alternative to (or partner for) other AHAs or BHA.
Beyond the numerous products that exfoliate (which is NeoStrata's main selling point) there's not much to get excited about, especially for what the company is charging. And it's upsetting that a dermatologist-driven, physician-sold line still has weak spots such as the occasional inclusion of irritating ingredients with no established benefit for skin and, believe it or not, a sunscreen that leaves skin vulnerable to UVA damage. NeoStrata has their act together when it comes to AHAs and PHA, but that tunnel vision has, in some respects, kept them from branching out to offer a better assortment of state-of-the-art products.
For more information about Exuviance, call (800) 225-9411 or visit www.neostrata.com.
Caution: Keep in mind that skin needs only one reliable exfoliant at a time. Exuviance sells so many good ones, you may be tempted to double (or triple) up, but doing so can backfire and be more irritating than helpful.
NeoStrata Exuviance Makeup
The small assortment of Exuviance makeup products takes the "makeup as skin-care" approach by including gluconolactone in all the makeup products. Although Exuviance makes much ado about gluconolactone being a gentler AHA alternative with advanced hydrating and antioxidant ability, information presented in Cosmetic Dermatology (July 1998) doesn't bear this out. That is, it's hard to see any better possibilities for gluconolactone than for the older, mainstay AHAs such as glycolic acid and lactic acid. What's not discussed are the effects on skin when multiple products containing gluconolactone are used. Although its reduced rate of penetration might make it less irritating, the fact remains that skin does not need multiple products for sufficient exfoliation.
The most encouraging news is that each Exuviance makeup product includes an effective sunscreen. As far as anti-aging goes, that feature is far more essential than the next AHA alternative. Exuviance makeup has changed hardly at all since it was last reviewed. The three foundations still do not offer a middle-of-the-road option when it comes to coverage. You're left to choose between the opaque CoverBlend makeups or the sheer Skin Caring option. The CoverBlend Concealing Treatment Makeup SPF 20 is truly in a class by itself when it comes to traditional full-coverage makeup, and it's highly recommended if you need significant coverage for discolored areas on the face or body. The tube concealer also offers full coverage (though the colors are not the most neutral around), and the loose powder is a fine, albeit overpriced, option.
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.