Sunscreen Review 1: Cetaphil, Elucent, Alpha-H, Sunsense

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Wearing sunscreen daily is the #1 best thing you can do to prevent wrinkles, so naturally I slather my face in sunscreen every morning (it helps prevent cancer too of course, but I’m vainer than I’d like to admit), under my make-up. I haven’t reviewed sunscreens in a while – here’s what I’ve been trying lately and what I thought.

Sunscreen Review: Cetaphil, Bioderma, Elucent, La Roche-Posay, Alpha-H, Sun Sense

 

Cetaphil Suntivity Liposomal Lotion SPF 50+

This sunscreen from dermatologist-faves Cetaphil has a surprisingly light texture, at a middling price of $20.99 for 100 mL. “Cosmetically elegant” sunscreens (i.e. formulations that don’t feel like you’ve slathered your face in greasepaint) are more common now, though they’re still not as easy to find as I’d like! Interestingly, this isn’t actually Cetaphil’s lightest sunscreen – they also have an Ultra-Light Lotion that’s also SPF 50+, and a Hydrating Lotion and Liposomal Spray that’s SPF 30+.

After much searching I found the following inactive ingredient list for the liposomal lotion here, provided after a redditor asked customer service:

Active Ingredients: Octyl Methoxycinnamate 75 mg/g, Isoamyl Methoxycinnamate 75 mg/g, Bemotrizinol 50 mg/g, Octyltriazone 50 mg/g, Methylene Bisbenzotriazoyl Tetramethylbutylphenol 30 mg/g, Butylmethoxydibenzoylmethane 25mg/g
Inactive Ingredients (?): Dicaprylyl Maleate, Ethanol, Cetyl Phosphate, Triethanolamine, All-Rac-Alpha-Tocopherol, Sorbitol, Lecithin, Aloe Barabdensis Gel 4), Carbomer 980, Cetyl Alcohol, Dimethicone 350, Methyl Parahydroxybenzoate, Propyl Parahydroxybenzoate, Water Purified Ad

It doesn’t look complete though, and has a few typos, so I’m not sure how accurate it is. It really annoys me that full ingredients list aren’t required for sunscreens in Australia. I understand that it’s good for them to be able to protect their trade secrets so they can invest more into sunscreen research without jacking up sunscreen price, but it’s so much easier to guess if a sunscreen is likely to break you out or suit your skin type if you have an ingredients list to work off.

The texture of this sunscreen is a little sticky, but it sinks in pretty quickly and the stickiness can be easily fixed by setting it with some translucent powder. It’s broad spectrum (which means UVA protection is 1/3 of the SPF, no other UVA protection indications), 4 hours water resistant and fragrance-free. The only real issue I have with this sunscreen is the packaging – the container is quite rigid and the sunscreen comes out of a little hole at the top. I can see myself having to take a saw to this when I run low!

  • Pros: broad spectrum, 4 hours water resistant, pleasant texture, fragrance-free (if you’re sensitive)
  • Cons: incomplete ingredients listing, no exact UVA protection rating, difficult to get the last of the sunscreen out of the packaging, a bit sticky

Elucent Anti-Ageing Day Moisturiser SPF 50+

Like with Cetaphil, there’s no official inactive ingredients listing available for this moisturiser, and it’s only available in Australia so there aren’t any sneaky overseas listing we can refer to. Like the rest of Elucent’s anti-ageing line (such as Elucent Anti-Ageing Serum that I reviewed earlier) it contains AHAs, at 4%. Additionally, there’s niacinamide and vitamin E, though the actual amounts are unknown. The texture is quite sticky but sinks in with some rubbing. I really like the hygienic and convenient pump packaging, and in terms of protection it’s broad spectrum and SPF 50+. Unfortunately, it’s moderately pricey at $42.39 for 95 mL, so I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re looking for a straightforward sunscreen, though if you’re after a multitasker this is a good option.

Active Ingredients (% w/w): Bemotrizinol 2.15, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane 2.9, Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl Tetramethylbutylphenol 1.5, Octyl Methoxycinnamate 8.0.

  • Pros: broad spectrum, contains AHAs, niacinamide and vitamin E, handy pump packaging, workable texture
  • Cons: incomplete ingredients listing, no exact UVA protection rating, a bit sticky, on the pricey end

Sunscreen Review 1: Cetaphil, Elucent, Alpha-H, Sunsense

Alpha-H Protection Plus Daily SPF 50+

Alpha-H Protection Plus Daily’s formula has a pleasantly non-sticky texture that’s a bit of a relief after all the sticky sunscreens I’ve been trying. It dries matte and feels like a light moisturiser. The colour is lightly tinted but not very noticeably, so there’s minimal white cast (this might be different if you have dark skin, but it shouldn’t be too big a problem since there’s no titanium dioxide which is the main offender). It contains a few antioxidant ingredients like pomegranate and mango seed oils and pinus pinaster bark extract (enzogenol) on top of the sunscreening ingredients.

It comes with a full ingredients list (yay!), but it’s the priciest sunscreen in this batch, coming in at $62 for 50 mL in Australia (45 in Europe), which is too much for me to use every day at the right amount, and sunscreen isn’t a product I want to be stingy with. (For some reason, the only version on Amazon is at an insane price. You’ll want to take a deep breath before clicking this link.)

Ingredients: Aqua, Octocrylene, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Benzophenone-3, Glyceryl Stearate, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Punica Granatum Seed Oil, Phenylbenzimidazole Sulphonic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hydroxide, Carbomer, Sorbitan Stearate, Pinus Pinaster Bark Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium EDTA, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Methylisothiazolinone

  • Pros: broad spectrum, contains antioxidants, awesome texture, full ingredients listing available
  • Cons: no exact UVA protection rating, expensive

Sunsense Anti-Ageing Face Invisible Tint Matte SPF 50+

This Sunsense sunscreen is matte and tinted, and feels like a lightweight moisturiser. Much like the Elucent sunscreen, it contains 4% AHAs, niacinamide and vitamin E, which isn’t too surprising since they’re both made by Ego Pharmaceuticals, an Australian company based in Melbourne (they also make QV and Azclear and a few other brands too). The price is a middling $21.49 for 100 mL.

While this does go on quite matte, unfortunately it balls up a little on my bare skin, and when tinted sunscreens ball up it tends to concentrate the pigments, so I can’t really use it. I think it’ll work a lot better on less oily skin. I’ve tried the non-tinted version before and it works a lot better – even though it balls up a bit, it’s not very noticeable.

Active Ingredients: Bemotrizinol 2.5%, Octyl Methoxycinnamate 7.0%, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate 3.0%, Diazolidinylurea

  • Pros: broad spectrum, contains AHAs, matte finish
  • Cons: no exact UVA protection rating, incomplete ingredients listing, can ball up on oily skin into brown fibres

What’s your favourite facial sunscreen for everyday use?

These products were provided for review, which did not affect my opinion. This post also contains affiliate links – if you decide to click through and support Lab Muffin financially (at no extra cost to you), thank you! For more information, see Disclosure Policy.

Last updated: December 29, 2017 at 18:24 pm

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29 thoughts on “Sunscreen Review 1: Cetaphil, Elucent, Alpha-H, Sunsense”

    • From what I can find, the only sunscreen ingredient that’s been linked to coral reef damage is oxybenzone (benzophenone-3) and nanoparticles of zinc and titanium oxides (and perhaps also octinoxate (ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate), and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor). Only one of the 3 sunscreens listed here contains oxybenzone. The problem is also less significant than the headlines make it out to be, according to – pollution and global warming are way, way more significant contributors. So I would say not to worry too much, and avoid oxybenzone in full-body sunscreens, especially when swimming 🙂

      Reply
      • That “A” is worse than “B” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t address both problems. That’s like saying oh cancer is worse than heart disease, so don’t worry about heart disease.

        Of course not.

        The Environmental Working Group is highly respected and has strong scientific cred, which I know is important to you.

        You can protect yourself and the coral reefs at the same time. Don’t use any sunscreen that uses nano-particles. That’s pretty much every product that gets absorbed into your skin. That is why they use the nano-technology in the first place.

        Reply
        • “The Environmental Working Group is highly respected and has strong scientific cred”

          It really, really, really isn’t and doesn’t. See e.g. these links: 1 2 3

          “Nanoparticles” only refers to nano-sized zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The other ingredients (“chemical sunscreens”) are dissolved entirely in the sunscreen and aren’t particulate.

          “That “A” is worse than “B” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t address both problems. That’s like saying oh cancer is worse than heart disease, so don’t worry about heart disease.”

          That’s true, but what I’m getting at is a matter of degree. If something only increases the chance of coral bleaching by an insignificant degree as mentioned in this article, then it’s probably not going to make a big difference if you do it or you don’t. For example, any exposure to UV will definitely increase your chances of skin cancer, but a 2 second exposure to sunlight is not going to make a big enough difference. Leaving a light bulb on for an extra 20 seconds will definitely contribute to global warming and hence coral bleaching, but it isn’t something to lose sleep over.

          Reply
  1. Thank you for the reviews. It is so hard to find the ONE sunscreen…
    One question: How much product do you use for your face?

    Reply
    • You’re meant to use 1/4 teaspoon on your face alone to get the protection stated on the label, but I probably use a bit less so I try to go for the highest protection possible, even if I’m getting barely any sun exposure that day.

      Reply
  2. I use Avene Very High Protection Cream SPF 50+ (for intolerant skin).
    It’s totally white on skin. It was quite inconvenient at first but I used to it eventually. It looks totally fine under mineral powder.

    Reply
    • How annoying! My face is already a bit paler than my body, so I think I should probably avoid that one so I don’t look like a mime…

      Reply
  3. I use Natio’s Daily Defence Face Moisturiser SPF 50+. https://www.natio.com.au/skincare-moisturisers/daily-defence-face-moisturiser-spf-50 I just grabbed it because I wanted a well-priced daily face moisturiser with spf. It has a really nice consistency under foundation: lightweight, doesn’t pill, non sticky, non oily but moisturising. It says broad spectrum but I’m honestly not sure going by the ingredients how good the UVA protection is? I like it so much, it’s probably not as effective as the other ones I hated that left a white cast … 🙁 ACTIVE INGREDIENTS Octocrylene 30 mg/g, Octyl Triazone 20 mg/g, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor 20 mg/g, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane 30 mg/g. CONTAINS Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxybenzoates.

    Reply
    • That sounds awesome! It’s almost impossible to work out what the protection is from the ingredients alone, but it says broad spectrum so UVA protection is supposedly about 1/3 of the SPF.

      Reply
  4. The Cetaphil Suntivity liposomal is actually a really good sunscreen. It does have really good UVA protection, Tinosorb S (Bemotrizinol), Tinosorb M (Methylene bis-benzotriazolyltetra-methylbutylohenol) and Avobenzone (Butyl methoxyibenzoylmethane). I use this on my face, it works really well with makeup because it’s so dewy and hydrating. This sunscreen really helps with pigmentation because of the high % of Tinosorbs in it. I personally like Tinosorbs because I believe its more superior in UVA than the other filters.

    Reply
  5. I use QV Moisturising Day Cream SPF 3O daily and it has to be the best SPF moisturiser that I’ve used so far. Given the Tinosorbs being the active ingredients, I hope it really is a good choice for broad spectrum protection.

    Reply
    • I used to use this moisturiser in the past too and really liked it’s texture and feel, no fragrance (as far as I remember;) but I’m not sure if it can be used in place of the “dedicated” sunscreens, any comment, Michelle? Thank you.

      Reply
  6. You mentioned that in Australia, “broad spectrum” means the UVA-PF is 1/3 the SPF. Is the same true for broad spectrum sunscreens in the USA? Thank you for this site, it’s a wonderful resource and your writing is a joy to read 🙂

    Reply
    • In the US they use a method called the Critical Wavelength method for broad spectrum – it means that 10% of the protection is for wavelengths longer than 370 nm. Most sunscreens that are broad spectrum in one system should be broad spectrum in the other system too, although the 1/3 method is stricter than the US method.

      Thank you so much! 😀

      Reply
  7. Just wondering what’re your thoughts on Invisible Zinc? The highest amount of zinc oxide they carry i believe is 27.5% which is the highest i’ve ever heard among all the mineral sunscreens. Do you know what’s the equivalent PPD rating on this one? I understand it does leave a white cast (as you would expect and I am not too stressed about it). It’s also quite affordable when it’s on sale in the shop, here in Australia so i thought it might be the winner. Thanks in advance and big fan of your youtube videos (apart from your blog)!

    Reply
  8. Hey, I know this article is a little older, however I was very intrigued by the Elucent SPF.

    I also live in Australia, and I was wondering if you knew anything about the filters used in this one (Tinosorb S and M, and Uvinal A Plus)? I didn’t know that Australia approved of these filters.

    It makes me wonder why aren’t we seeing more sunscreens that uses these filters, like some loved Asian sunscreens.

    Reply

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