Marketed as a 3-in-1 product (sunscreen, moisturizer, and primer), Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen & Primer SPF 30 certainly delivers on the first two: sunscreen and moisturizer (we'll discuss the "primer" claim shortly). Along with gentle broad-spectrum sun protection from zinc oxide, this ultra-rich formula is a winner for dry to very dry skin types not prone to breakouts. Those with dry skin who often find mineral sunscreens a bit drying (because mineral actives like zinc oxide have a strong matte finish) will enjoy the intensely moisturizing mix of plant-based emollients, along with a blend of plant-based fatty acids. However, this misses a higher recommendation due to the inclusion of multiple fragrant citrus oils, which research shows have a strong potential to irritate the skin.
The citrus oils contain a potent concentration of compounds (such as the fragrance chemical citral) that can provoke an allergic or sensitizing response in the skin. Plus, the actual fragrance is quite strong after application, and lingers for a few hours. See More Info for details about why it's best to avoid fragrance in your skin-care routine.
The 20% zinc oxide is a lot, and, not surprisingly, leaves an evident white cast on application. However, this cast does sheer out somewhat, and isn't as dramatic as it seems at first (especially if you have a lighter skin tone). Due to the significant amount of thickeners and oils, Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen & Primer SPF 30 feels rather thick and a bit greasy at first, but it sets to a smooth, moisturizing finish.
Regarding its use as a primer: It's hard to imagine this performing well as a primer, as its moist finish can certainly cause makeup to slide for all but the driest of skin types.
One last point, Suntegrity refers to this as a "UV chemical-free" sunscreen, which is nonsense, as everything on Earth is technically a chemical. Claiming that you should avoid chemicals is merely a scare tactic, nothing more.
Bottom line: While we would have loved to give this a higher rating, the inclusion of multiple citrus essential oils makes that impossible. There are many better-formulated alternatives to consider on our list of Best Moisturizers with Sunscreen. You may also want to check out Suntegrity's Unscented Body Sunscreen SPF 30, which is almost identical to Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen & Primer SPF 30, except that the Unscented Body Sunscreen SPF 30 (as the name implies) doesn't contain the sensitizing citrus oils; plus, you get nearly twice the amount product for half the cost.
Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).
A rich, non-greasy, “UV chemical-free” face sunscreen that offers Broad Spectrum Protection against damaging UVA & UVB rays. Infused with youth promoting antioxidants, this 3 in 1 product functions as a face moisturizer, sunscreen and make-up primer all in one.
Active Ingredient: Zinc-Oxide 20%. Inactive Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Capric Caprylic Triglycerides (Coconut Oil Extract), Water (Aqua), Sorbitan Stearate (Plant Derived), Glyceryl Stearate (Plant Derived), Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate (Plant Derived), Hexyl Laurate (Plant Derived), Simmondsia Chinensis (Organic Jojoba) Seed Oil, Cetyl Dimethicone (Mineral Derived), Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salt), Helianthus Annuus (Organic Sunflower) Seed Oil, Cucumis Sativus (Organic Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Astaxanthin (Algae Source), Hyaluronic Acid (Plant Derived), Chlorella Emersonii (Red Algae) Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Organic Green Tea) Extract, Punica Granatum (Organic Pomegranate) Seed Oil, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Essential Oil, Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange) Essential Oil, Citrus Reticulata Blanco (Tangerine) Essential Oil, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide, Ethylhexylglycerin
Created by aesthetician Tricia Trimble, Suntegrity is a relatively small collection of products focused on mineral (zinc oxide)–based sunscreen formulas. According to Trimble, she developed the Suntegrity line out of the desire to create sunscreens that appeal to those who traditionally don’t like to wear sun protection, due either to their aesthetics or other qualities. That’s certainly a commendable goal!
Unfortunately, these noble intentions are wrapped up in a lot of misinformation that’s intended to make these products seem safer than other options, which is not the case at all. For example, Suntegrity makes a great deal about their products being “natural,” which they are not; they contain many “unnatural” ingredients. They describe certain ingredients as being plant or mineral derived, but that doesn’t make them natural in the least.
For the record, we have nothing against any ingredient—natural or synthetic—as long as it is good for the skin. But, there isn’t anything special about a natural ingredient that makes it automatically better for the skin than a synthetic ingredient. In fact, many natural ingredients are extremely damaging to the skin, and some are phototoxic, which means they cause even more damage when they are applied and then the skin is exposed to the sun.
What we do take issue with are beauty brands that use scare tactics to sell the notion that their natural products are good and that everyone else’s products are bad because they contain synthetic ingredients. This is especially obnoxious when a company, like Suntegrity, makes products that do include synthetic ingredients. Their products are not “chemical-free” as they state; in fact, everything on a cosmetic ingredient label is technically a chemical, including water.
We’re always so disappointed to see such needless twisting of the facts; brands should just rely on the quality of their products to speak for themselves, but we know that’s not going to happen any time soon.
When we evaluate the potential benefit or potential harm of any ingredient, we always consider what the peer-reviewed, published research demonstrates as fact—whether an ingredient is natural or not isn’t relevant in determining whether it’s helpful for the skin.
It’s ironic, and so frustrating, that many of Suntegrity’s formulas would have been excellent options had they not included citrus oils, which have strong potential to irritate skin and cause phototoxic reactions. Suntegrity doesn’t address the fact that the ingredients they demonize, like mineral oil and sulfates, have plenty of research demonstrating their safety and effectiveness in cosmetics formulas, while the fragrant ingredients Suntegrity includes in their products (such as grapefruit, tangerine, and orange oils) are well documented for their potential to provoke sensitizing and allergenic reactions (Source: www.naturaldatabase.com).
If you look past the Suntegrity products that contain citrus oils (and you should), you will find that they have a few truly excellent mineral-based sunscreens for dry to very dry skin (an area of the market that’s largely lacking; it’s tough to find a truly emollient mineral sunscreen). If Suntegrity had left the fragrance out of all of their formulas, they would have a lineup of BEST-rated sunscreens; we might even overlook their scare tactic marketing approach.
It’s worth noting that Suntegrity’s body sunscreens are nearly exact duplicates of their facial formulas, but their body formulas cost only about half as much for twice the amount of product. Suntegrity appears to use a few rather, what we call, “slippery” techniques to make this fact less obvious, and we point these out in the relevant reviews. All told, we wish we were as impressed with this brand’s approach to sunscreen marketing as we were with some of their products. In a perfect world, such misinformation wouldn’t be perpetuated, and we could focus on what’s most important for skin health: Protecting it from sun damage.
For more information about Suntegrity, visit www.suntegrityskincare.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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