Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+ is marketed as having a completely natural, invisible finish, even with 19% zinc oxide. This smooth cream applies easily, then sets to a dry finish on skin (making it best for oily to combination skin types), but it does have a slight white cast. Unfortunately, while this is certainly a lighter mineral-based sunscreen than many, we have serious reservations about relying on this as your sole source of sun protection.
It is important to note that you really need to stretch the definition of "all natural" if you're going to apply that term to a sunscreen. The process to extract and stabilize the ingredients needed to formulate an effective sunscreen makes the finished product about as natural as Splenda! However, the "natural" claim isn't our most significant concern about this product.
The first oddity we noticed was the lack of any Drug Facts Label, either on the outer carton or the tube. As you may be aware, the U.S. FDA enacted new, tighter regulations requiring cosmetics companies to submit their sunscreen formulas to FDA-approved labs for broad-spectrum testing. The sunscreens that pass the test and meet the new, rigorous standard can display the claim "Broad Spectrum Protection." Also the Drug Facts Label on the box or bottle separates the formula information, listing active ingredients separately from inactive ingredients, providing usage guidelines, and providing other information, including (perhaps most important) the official expiration date. The expiration date usually is stamped on the crimp or printed on the tube, but DeVita doesn't provide an expiration date at all.
In the United States, if a company does not submit its product for FDA testing and subsequently pass the test, the product cannot display the Drug Facts Label or broad-spectrum claim, and in this case, DeVita's Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+ lacks this important feature.
Simply including 19% zinc oxide in a formula isn't enough to guarantee a product's ability to function properly as a broad-spectrum sunscreen—there are other factors, such as stability, dispersion (how well it's mixed into a formula), and others that affect how well a sunscreen performs (as a whole) to protect you against UV exposure.
In their marketing messaging, DeVita uses the phrase "USFDA Monograph Sun Protection Factor Determination test level of 32" to describe the protection level of their Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+. This is odd phrasing, and it deepens our concerns about the effectiveness of the product because the current UVA/UVB FDA testing requirements no longer rely solely on this SPF testing method (the classic measurement of UVB protection), but rather also include new critical wavelength tests to determine a sunscreen's true broad-spectrum capability. So, this shows that DeVita is aware of the FDA SPF testing requirements, but it does not show they are aware of the new sunscreen testing and labeling regulations.
DeVita claims grape seed extract (listed as Vitis Vinifera) is their preservative and that aloe has some added antibacterial benefit. There isn't any research to substantiate the claim that a preservative system of grape seed extract and aloe is an effective broad-spectrum preservative against bacteria and mold. Some naturally derived ingredients do provide antibacterial benefit, but that doesn't mean they are a substitute for an adequate preservative system. For example, vitamin C has antibacterial and antioxidant benefit, but are you willing to drink from a bottle of 100% orange juice that's been sitting on your kitchen counter for a month or two? There are plenty of options for effective preservatives, whether your preference is for natural skin care or not, but grape seed extract and aloe aren't among them.
Even though DeVita includes a mix of beneficial antioxidants and skin-identical ingredients, you have no idea what you're really getting. DeVita's Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+ raises too many questions and concerns to earn our recommendation—we recommend skipping this and considering any of the alternatives from other brands recommended in our Best Moisturizers With Sunscreen section.
Try DeVita's feather-light, never heavy, oily or greasy moisturizing and natural sunscreen. It's hard to believe that our all-natural, sheer, moisturizer/sunscreen is a deeply moisturizing daytime cream and sunblock all in one! DeVita's exclusive formulation is created specifically for those sensitive to breakouts. This moisturizer is light enough to wear under make-up, absorbs quickly, and yet leaves the skin nourished and feeling soft and smooth. Offers broad spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection with a USFDA Monograph Sun Protection Factor Determination test level of 32.
Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 19%. Inactive Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis (Certified Organic Aloe Vera Gel), Purified Water (Aqua), Capric/Caprylic Triglycerides (Derived From Coconut Oil), Glycerin (Vegetable), Hyaluronic Acid (Vegan Source), Glyceryl Stearate SE (Derived From Vegetable Oil), Stearic Acid, Lecithin Phospholipid, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Allantoin, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract.
Strengths: Very few. While a few products contain beneficial ingredients, they are overshadowed by the many other ingredients that present significant concerns and by the questionable preservative systems.
Weaknesses: Ingredient label doesn’t comply with FDA or (global) International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) cosmetics regulations so you really don’t know what you are putting on your face; products appear to lack adequate preservatives to keep you safe from mold and bacteria (if they’re in the products, the company doesn’t list them); misleading to outlandish claims; some products contain multiple potent irritants.
It seems strange that the tagline for the Arizona-based DeVita Skin Care is "Guided by Nature, Driven by Science" because they take a decidedly unscientific route to promote their products, using consumers' fears of chemicals (describing them as "poisons and toxic" on their website) to the fullest degree. If this company was driven by science, we would expect more than just the same old scare tactic—"all chemicals are bad but all plants are good." In fact, all the ingredients in any cosmetic, including water, are chemicals.
DeVita makes the claim that their products are "all natural," vegan, and paraben-free, despite the fact that parabens come from natural ingredients and there is no research showing they are a problem for the body. Their all-natural claim is easy to debunk because their products contain decidedly synthetic ingredients, such as retinol, l-carnosine, palmitoyl oligopeptide, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3, dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, and polymethylsilsesquioxane, to name a few.
Regarding the l-carnosine and retinol, they are found naturally in animals, but they do not occur in plants. However, because the natural, animal-based versions aren't very stable or effective in skin-care formulas, l-carnosine and retinol in cosmetics are (with rare exceptions) synthetic. Therefore, either DeVita isn't being straight about being a vegan line, or they have their own definition of what "all-natural" means. That may very well be the case, because the "all natural" claim is not beholden to any sort of cosmetic regulation anywhere in the world.
All of this natural, chemical-free posturing gets so tiring—the truth is that there are good and bad natural ingredients, just as there are good and bad synthetic ingredients. Natural isn't inherently better and synthetic isn't inherently evil. One problem with DeVita products is that you can't be sure what you're really putting on your skin because DeVita takes liberties with how they list product ingredients, which is a regulatory no-no. For all the DeVita products we reviewed (without exception), not a single one had an ingredient list that complied with FDA or (global) INCI standards.
For example, "De-Ionized Water" isn't a recognized name, nor is "Aloe Barbadensis." In the latter case, the designation doesn't tell you if they're using aloe leaf, aloe flower extract with alcohol, aloe leaf juice diluted with water, or just a plain aloe extract. Listing the full ingredient is important information because different forms of an ingredient can mean different things to a formula and can have different effects on your skin.
We admire DeVita in that they don't resort to alcohol-based formulas (a rare quality for a natural brand); unfortunately, it seems they ignored, or simply overlooked, the research on the potent irritant potential of essential oils and fragrances.
They also seem to ignore the risks inherent in not using an effective preservative system. Many of the products we reviewed had questionable preservative systems (see individual product reviews for details), which is bad news (for you and your skin) because you won't know how long you can safely use a product before it's overrun by bacteria and mold. We raised our concern about the preservatives with a representative from DeVita and were told that their products were preserved by the use of aloe, allantoin, grape seed extract, grapefruit seed extract, and "others," depending on the product. To be clear, none of these ingredients has any research demonstrating an ability to work as broad-spectrum preservatives; that is, they won't keep your product free of mold, fungi, or bacteria.
It is true that some ingredients have natural antibacterial benefits, but that doesn't mean they are a good substitute for tried-and-true preservatives. For example, vitamin C has antibacterial and antioxidant benefit, but are you willing to drink from a container of 100% fruit juice that's been sitting on the counter for a month or two? There are plenty of options for effective preservatives, no matter if your preference is for natural skin care or not, but aloe, allantoin, grape seed, and grapefruit seed extract aren't counted among them.
We understand the appeal of DeVita as a brand for those who are enamored with the concept of 100% natural products. However, the reality is that DeVita presents this appearance of "all natural" by fudging the details, devising their own definitions of "all natural," and providing inaccurate information about the source of their ingredients (vegan plant-based l-carnosine and natural silicone—Really?). In many of the products we reviewed, DeVita either omits the source of their preservatives, or (more dangerous to imagine) uses ineffective preservative systems. We are not against naturally derived ingredients by any means, but if you're looking to use natural products, you can do better than this brand, which ultimately leaves you questioning what exactly it is you're putting on your skin.
For more information on DeVita, visit www.devitaskincare.com or call 1-877-233-8482.
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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