Friday, June 8, 2012

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock

Neutrogena makes one of my favorite sunscreen products, the Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock lotion. It comes in various SPF ratings, from 30 to 100+. The Ultra Sheer line itself comes in a lotion, a liquid and a spray. I reviewed the liquid last week (click here to read).

I tend to buy this product at Costco because I get a better price there. I usually end up with the SPF 45 version that comes in a twin pack, with some other sunscreen item/s for free. Right now they offer it with two 1 oz. tubes of the same sunscreen with SPF 55. While you're there, Costco has the Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Body Mist Sunblock SPF 45 in a twin pack with a free 1 oz. tube of the sunblock lotion and a lip balm. There is also a promotion on the Neutrogena Wet Skin sunblock sprays that is worth having a look at.

Going back to the product on hand, I like this particular sunscreen because it is not greasy like other lotions. It comes out as a creamy, white liquid but once applied, it has a matte finish and, true to the words on the bottle, a lightweight, clean feel. It is lightly-fragranced and absorbs quickly enough. Sometimes, I see the lightest white cast from it but most of the product gets completely absorbed within a half hour. Bottle directions say: Apply liberally on face and body 15 minutes before sun exposure. For added protection, reapply after swimming, excessive sweating, towel drying or extended sun exposure.

The product contains the usual active ingredients found in most chemical sunscreens: Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene and Oxybenzone. I've picked up a handy definition of avobenzone and oxybenzone from the June issue of Allure magazine, pages 168-169:

avobenzone: a chemical found in sunscreens, it absorbs UVA rays to reduce their penetration into the skin but does not protect against UVB rays

oxybenzone: also known as benzophenone-3, this chemical sunscreen absorbs mainly UVB rays, which is why it is combined with UVA-absorbing filters (like avobenzone)

My understanding is that homosalate and octisalate are both UVB-absorbing chemicals that are commonly used with other UV absorbers because they are weak on their own. Octocrylene, I've noticed, is typically found in water-resistant formulas but I've read that it is not as commonly used or perhaps used less because it is a little more expensive or difficult to formulate.

I do have concerns about the use of these chemicals in the sunscreens that I purchase but dermatologists still recommend daily use of sunscreen products, especially during periods of greater sun exposure. I imagine that this is one of those cases where the benefits outweigh the possible consequences. However, if you think you may have an allergic reaction to any particular ingredient, then it is perhaps best to avoid chemical sunscreens. There are mineral sunscreen options that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, and I'd like to be able to cover a few products that use those instead of avobenzone or oxybenzone as well.

One other thing to note about many Neutrogena sunscreen products like the Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock that I have here, is that they benefit from the Helioplex technology developed by the brand. What I've gathered is that Helioplex stabilizes the sunscreen ingredients in the products so that their effectivity doesn't disintegrate at the first sign of sun. If this is all true, then the products that contain Helioplex can rightfully claim to provide broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, just as they are labelled.

From the back of the packaging (click to enlarge)

Using this particular sunscreen product for trips to the beach and the swimming pool, I've never had a sunburn. But I do reapply sunscreen at least every two hours and I tend to limit my sun exposure, all of which help. I tend to bring a variety of sunscreens with me on every beach trip but this is the one that I apply before I leave the house. Frankly, if I could have only one sunscreen product on me, I would pick this one. If you feel more secure with a higher SPF and money is no object, then certainly go with a higher SPF. For most purposes however, an SPF 30, frequently reapplied, does the job better than SPF 100 applied just once in the day. The bottomline being, if used right, your sunscreen should be able to get you the protection that you need.


  1. Thank you for reviewing this product! The thing with sunscreen application, for me, is that I don't really know how to go about reapplying it over my foundation and other makeup (as the original layer is applied before makeup is used). I was wondering if you have any tips on going about this?

    1. If you're going to powder your nose in a couple of hours anyway, you can try a mineral powder with sunscreen (like titanium dioxide) which acts as a physical blocker to UV rays. The only issue there is, how do you feel about powder on top of your foundation and is there a mineral powder product that you like? I have tried very few mineral powders with SPF because the ones that I've tried make me itchy. No exception. A lot of them use bismuth oxychloride, which I suspect is the cause of the itching, and it has turned me off from trying others. As for reapplying powder product every two hours, it's a personal decision.

      If I know I'm going to be under the sun a lot, I just skip makeup. A tinted lip balm with SPF can liven up the face and a coat of waterproof mascara can open up the eyes. You could probably even use a sturdy eyeliner. All, so that you can reapply your sunscreen later on. Wear sunglasses, put on a hat or use an umbrella :) I hope that helps.