The main selling point for Neutrogena Naturals Brightening Daily Moisturizer with Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 25 is that the majority of its ingredients are naturally-derived. While that's certainly not a bad thing, it doesn't automatically equate to a moisturizer that gives your skin the very best it needs to make it look and feel younger.
So aside from the natural angle, this is a very straightforward, rather boring sunscreen. It is a lightweight lotion in a plastic squeeze tube that blends easily into skin without leaving a noticeable white cast, which is good news since it contains a mineral-based sunscreen.
It's lightly hydrating, though people with dry to very dry skin will likely need something with a little more oomph to get the right amount of moisture.
About the sunscreen, while it is broad spectrum SPF 25, that's slightly on the low side (SPF 30 or higher is the standard minimum recommendation if you're thinking of using this as your sole source of facial sun protection). This also lacks a robust mix of antioxidants that would boost skin's environmental defenses and help it look younger. The antioxidants present are more "meh" than "yeah!"
Then there's the claim that this can help even skin tone. The sole ingredient that gets this attribution is lemon peel, but it's off the mark. Although lemon peel does contain skin-brightening vitamin C, it also has the potential to aggravate skin—not to mention pure vitamin C would be more effective. Even if lemon peel was great for uneven skin, it's so far down the ingredient list that it wouldn't have any significant impact anyway.
While this isn't a bad moisturizer, there just isn't anything compelling about it, even with its drugstore price. You're better served with one of the options you'll find on our list of Best Moisturizers, Daytime With Sunscreen (which includes products in just about every price range!).
Active: Titanium Dioxide 4.1%, Zinc Oxide 3%. Inactive: Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cocoglycerides, Glycerin, Cetearyl Olivate, Caprylyl Methicone, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Sorbitan Olivate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Heptyl Undecylenate, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Gluconolactone, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Glyceryl Behenate, Aluminum Hydroxide, Stearic Acid, Phenylethyl Resorcinol, Benzyl Alcohol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Cetearyl Glucoside, Sodium Benzoate, Chlorphenesin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Fragrance, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Extract, Tropolone, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides.
Strengths: Inexpensive; several recommended cleansers; retinol options, in stable packaging; vast selection of sunscreens, most of which offer excellent UVA protection; several fragrance-free options; many of the Healthy Skin products are state-of-the-art; the foundations with sunscreen provide sufficient UVA protection; some praiseworthy makeup items.
Weaknesses: An overabundance of overlapping anti-aging products that is perennially confusing for consumers; irritating bar soaps; lackluster to downright bad toners; a handful of bland moisturizers and eye creams; some sunscreens too much alcohol or problematic preservatives; most of the Deep Clean products are terrible; mostly disappointing concealers; the lip balms with sunscreen provide inadequate UVA protection.
Johnson & Johnson–owned Neutrogena has been around for over 50 years, and they've come a long way since they launched their first transparent, bronze, detergent-based bar soap (it also contains tallow). The bars are still sold, and while we still don't recommend them (they are too drying for all skin types), the good news is that Neutrogena has come a very long way from where they started. In fact, several of their products represent truly state-of-the-art options.
Strolling the skin-care aisles of any drugstore or mass-market store reveals that Neutrogena vies for shelf space and prominence with only one other brand, Procter & Gamble's Olay. For the most part, both companies offer a similar assortment of products, with Olay being slightly more focused on anti-aging products and Neutrogena going for broader appeal, offering a nearly equal amount of antiwrinkle and anti-acne products. Regrettably the latter category presents few viable options.
Where Neutrogena really excels (and has for years) is with water-soluble cleansers, AHAs, retinol, and sunscreen products. Their Healthy Skin lineup offers some beautifully formulated moisturizers with glycolic acid, and the sunscreens offer something for everyone, including some ingenious options for those with oily skin (or anyone who finds the texture of high-SPF products as unappealing as slathering your skin with Crisco).
A recent self-proclaimed advance in sun protection came with Neutrogena's Helioplex complex. It is not the superior breakthrough Neutrogena makes it out to be. It's a good system to keep avobenzone stable for longer, but Helioplex isn't the only way to get the most out of this important UVA sunscreen. If it were, why didn't Neutrogena scrap all of their other sunscreens that don't use Helioplex technology? And why do they still offer a handful of SPF-rated products that leave skin vulnerable to UVA damage? Although they offer a proportionately greater number of sunscreens that provide excellent UVA protection, it's hard to unequivocally deem them a sun-care leader when they still sell inadequate sunscreens.
It's common to see commercials and magazine ads for Neutrogena's plethora of products designed to combat breakouts and blackheads. It's nothing short of amazing that, after all these years, the majority of these products, while well intentioned, still don't get it right. Far too many of them contain irritating ingredients such as alcohol, witch hazel, and menthol, none of which are the least bit helpful for someone struggling with breakouts. If your dermatologist recommends these products for acne without reservation, definitely consider a second opinion! Even Neutrogena's on-the-spot benzoyl peroxide product contains some potentially problematic thickening agents. Despite this, if you choose carefully, there are some great products (including a BHA lotion) that can make a positive difference.
What's most frustrating and, frankly, surprising, is that Neutrogena's enormous assortment of products represents both the best and the worst the cosmetics industry has to offer. Given their worldwide distribution and research capabilities, they really should be offering a consistent range of effective, irritant-free products to address a variety of skin types and conditions. As things stand now, healthy, protected skin is only assured if you know which Neutrogena products to look for and which ones to never put in your shopping cart.
For more information about Neutrogena, owned by Johnson & Johnson, call (800) 582-4048 or visit www.neutrogena.com.
Neutrogena's "beautiful and beneficial" pronouncement is a great tag line, but most of their makeup doesn't live up to that assertion. This line was lacking in several key areas when it first hit store shelves in 1999, and although some things have improved, the number of problematic products is a bit startling. (We are not aware of any cosmetic line that uses menthol or its derivatives as often as Neutrogena.) Each product carries on about the vitamins it contains, yet compared to the leading roles played by cosmetic staples like silicones and thickening agents, the vitamins have mere cameo roles, and as such have little to no impact.
There are a few key items to seek out, especially if you're looking for makeup with excellent sun protection. We also found their lip gloss to be one of the best at any price, and a few of their foundations successfully bridge the gap between skin care and makeup.
The most frustrating aspect of this line is that almost all of it is packaged so you cannot see the color. Even worse, the color swatch on the box is a poor representation, not only of how the color looks in the compact, but also how it looks on your skin. What would truly be beneficial is for Neutrogena to offer more revealing packaging or provide testers or offer trial sizes. Their overall collection and in-store displays aren't nearly as tempting as most other drugstore makeup lines, so in most cases they're relying on their constant magazine and television ads to drive shoppers to explore the world of Neutrogena makeup, or they're relying solely on those who don't mind guessing what color they are really buying. It's obviously working, because despite the problematic elements, this is a line that has survived and is very well distributed.
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!