With its gentle, fragrance-free blend of mineral sunscreens (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide), Aveeno has created a winning water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen for sensitive skin. The lightweight creamy lotion spreads easily, sets quickly, and leaves a satin matte finish that should please those with normal to combination skin; the finish isn't moisturizing enough for dry skin.
Yes, this feels slightly tacky, but it's also quite tenacious: You can be assured of long-lasting protection, but don't forget to reapply as needed. The only disappointing part of this sunscreen is its lack of antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients, which all skin types need. A teeny-tiny amount of anti-irritant oat kernel extract is present, but it's unlikely to be of much benefit for your skin.
This sunscreen is suitable for the face, too. See More Info to find out why the hypoallergenic claim is bogus.
The term “hypoallergenic” is meant to imply that a product is unlikely or less likely to cause allergic reactions and, therefore, is better for allergy-prone or sensitive skin types, but it isn’t true. 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 (Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, 2004 & Dermatologic Therapy, 2001).
We have reviewed hundreds of products labeled “hypoallergenic” or “safe for sensitive skin” that contain seriously problematic ingredients that can trigger allergic breakouts or sensitive skin reactions. And many of us have used products labeled hypoallergenic that have caused a reaction of some sort.
If sensitive or allergy-prone skin is one of your concerns, then the #1 thing to look for is products that are free of irritants. The major irritants that show up, and in an astounding number of products, especially in products labeled organic or natural, are fragrance (both synthetic and natural fragrance are equally bad for all skin types), alcohol (isopropyl, SD, or denatured alcohol), and harsh cleansing agents like sodium lauryl sulfate (not sodium laureth sulfate, which is a perfectly mild cleansing agent).
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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