MDSolarSciences Mineral Sunscreen Stick Broad Spectrum SPF 40 has a creamy, emollient, fragrance-free formula in a twist-up container that is best for normal to dry skin. While the idea of stick sunscreens may conjure up images of waxy, chalky products, this was a pleasant surprise! It feels comfortable, moisturizing, and leaves only a minimal white cast. The result is a very good (and convenient) option for protecting areas like the backs of your hands, tops of your ears, and anywhere else you like—and the formula is gentle enough for use on babies and kids, too!
Those with sensitive or rosacea-affected skin will enjoy the mineral-based sunscreen actives titanium dioxide (8.1%) and zinc oxide (6.6%), a combination that provides more-than-adequate broad-spectrum protection. The white cast mostly disappears as it dries, so most will find this a non-issue, with the exception of those with darker skin tones.
This is also water-resistant up to 80 minutes, but is easier to remove than most of the other MDSolarSciences sunscreens. However, after reapplying (as you should), this can be more difficult to cleanse from skin—possibly requiring a soft washcloth (or cleansing brush) to ensure you’ve removed it entirely.
We should note that the “non comedogenic” and “doesn’t clog pores” claims are meaningless, as there are no such classifications or standards for measuring or establishing this—see More Info for details on why it’s a meaningless label. In fact, the waxes present in here can be especially problematic for those prone to breakouts.
This is on the pricey side for a stick sunscreen and we would love to have seen MDSolarSciences include more in the way of antioxidants, but this is nonetheless a good, quick, and convenient option for protecting sensitive spots on the face or body from sun damage.
Note: MDSolarSciences makes the claim that this formula contains “naturally derived” mineral sunscreen actives, which is both accurate and misleading. Technically, all mineral sunscreen actives are engineered from earth elements, but what comes out of that engineered process is about as natural as the plastic used to house the product (or the silicones and polymers it contains). Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using synthetically engineered ingredients, but it’s important to point out the silliness of this type of marketing claim.
Non-Comedogenic: Labels like “non-comedogenic” or “non-acnegenic” seem like safe bets, but are actually unhelpful because these terms were coined under test conditions that are not even remotely applicable to how you, or anyone for that matter, use skincare or makeup products. The “non-comedogenic” myth got its beginnings from a 1979 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology. This study examined the potential of various ingredients (cocoa and shea butters, lanolin and waxes, among others) to clog pores and lead to the formation of comedones—hence the term “comedogenic.”
Under the conditions of this study, 100% pure concentrations of ingredients were layered five times per application over a period of two weeks, without cleansing the skin at any time. The manner in which these tests were conducted is not remotely similar to how we use skincare or makeup products—plus very few products are formulated with 100% of any one ingredient. What really determines whether an ingredient present in your skincare or makeup products is likely to trigger a breakout is how much of the ingredient is present in the formula and what else you apply as part of your skincare routine.
The researcher largely credited for developing the concept of comedogenic, Albert Kligman, said as much in his 1972 study, “Acne Cosmetica”:
“It is not necessary to exclude constituents which might be comedogenic in a pure state. The concentration of such substances is exceedingly important. To exile such materials as lanolin, petroleum hydrocarbons, fatty alcohols, and vegetable oils from cosmetics would be irrational. What is ultimately important is the comedogenicity of the finished product (Archives of Dermatology, 1972).”
Last, the terms non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic are not regulated so they’re not beholden to any agreed-upon standards. Any product, from the richest cream to the thinnest lotion, can use these claims and not have to prove they really don’t clog pores or trigger acne breakouts.
Strengths: Excellent array of fragrance-free mineral sunscreens; products are packaged to protect ingredients from exposure to air and light; a very good eye-area treatment; water-resistant sunscreen formulas; nearly all sunscreens contain beneficial antioxidants and are suitable for sensitive skin.
Weaknesses: Some products are on the pricey side; some of the mineral sunscreens are difficult to remove; a few formulas contain irritating fragrant ingredients or fragrance.
MDSolarSciences specializes in mineral-based sunscreens, and you will find multiple variations of silicone-based, gel-cream formulas with a blend of the sunscreen actives titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Mineral sunscreens are particularly ideal for those with sensitive skin, including those with rosacea or eczema, as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are virtually non-reactive; that is, they have little to no ability to provoke irritation. To our delight, nearly every MDSolarSciences formula is free of fragrance, including their mineral sunscreen options.
While many love the scent of citrus, lavender, or spicy notes, such ingredients and compounds-whether natural or synthetic-are potentially irritating to skin (especially if you're dealing with issues like rosacea or eczema). A few of the newer MDSolarSciences formulas do include some degree of fragrance, which is a disappointing turn for the brand and one we hope doesn't continue as the brand's product lineup expands. Those that contain fragrance are noted as such in their respective reviews.
The polarizing aspect of mineral sunscreens is often aesthetic-and that's certainly no exception with the options offered by MDSolarScience. Any mineral-based sunscreen will have some degree of white cast-it's unavoidable-and whether a particular product's degree of such is suitable for you is subjective. The white cast and the texture of the MDSolarSciences mineral sunscreens have varying levels of intensity and thickness, all qualities that are noted in each review.
Another note: As all of their mineral sunscreens are water-resistant (at the time of this review), they are exceptionally tenacious. You may need to use a soft washcloth or cleansing tool (like the Clarisonic, etc.) with your cleanser, or consider using a few drops of nonfragrant plant oil before your cleanser to help aid the removal process.
For more information about MDSolarSciences, call 1-877-301-5355 or visit http://www.mdsolarsciences.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.
Beautypedia cuts through the hype to bring you product insights and recommendations you won’t find anywhere else!