Ultra Violette’s New Clean Screen & “Chemical” SPF for sensitive skin

Affiliate Disclosure: I receive a small commission for purchases made via affiliate links.

This post is sponsored by Ultra Violette.

Ultra Violette is an Australian sunscreen brand which – unusually, for a Western sunscreen brand – focuses on wearable, cosmetically elegant facial sunscreens. I reviewed Ultra Violette’s first three sunscreens (Supreme Screen, Queen Screen and Clean Screen) last year. Supreme Screen was my favourite, with its light texture and newer, more effective UV-protective filters – it made it onto my holy grail sunscreen list.

However, I had some issues with Clean Screen, the version for sensitive skin. Clearly I wasn’t the only person who didn’t love it, since Ultra Violette have just released a new formulation of Clean Screen that fixes a lot of the problems!

Ultra Violette

Ultra Violette

Let’s start with a quick overview of Ultra Violette:

  • Ultra Violette sunscreens comply with Australian sunscreen standards, so the broad spectrum UVA rating ticks both the critical wavelength and >⅓ SPF requirements
  • Their sunscreens are “skinscreens”, in that they combine sun protection and skincare benefits.
  • Unlike most Australian sunscreens, full ingredient lists are available for their sunscreens. This is great if you have sensitivities to certain ingredients, or you’re just a skincare nerd who likes All Of The Information.
  • Marketing emphasises how much sunscreen is required – Ultra Violette recommends 5 pumps of sunscreen, which is much better for your skin than the “a little goes a long way” message that you usually see with cosmetic sunscreens

The Old Clean Screen

Both versions of Clean Screen are targeted towards people with very sensitive skin who suffer from issues like eczema, rosacea and sunscreen sensitivities.

The older formula of Clean Screen that I reviewed in my previous Ultra Violette post used zinc oxide at 20% as its only sunscreen active, achieving broad spectrum SPF 30 protection. It had Pentavitin (saccharide isomerate), a humectant moisturiser that claims 72 hour hydration, as well as green tea extract, cucumber extract and rose hip oil. It came in a tube with a convenient pump top.

While I liked the mattifying effect and the pleasant texture (compared to other mineral-only sunscreens), the white cast was too much for my skin.

Ultra Violette Clean Screen Pump Top

The New Reformulated Clean Screen

The reformulated version of Clean Screen is also rated for broad spectrum SPF 30 coverage, and comes at the same price as the old formula ($42 AUD for 50 mL). The packaging is very very similar. But the two products are very different inside…

Ultra Violette Clean Screen

Fragrance-Free

Clean Screen is now fragrance-free. The relatively heavy fragrance was one of the most common complaints about the Old Clean Screen. With the New Clean Screen, if you really concentrate you can catch a whiff of sunscreen or generic moisturiser smell. Scent-wise, this is one of the least noticeable sunscreens I’ve ever worn.

Much Lower White Cast

My skin is NC 20-25, but because my skin tone is quite warm and yellow, the white cast from sunscreens can be very obvious. One pump of Clean Screen gave me a strong white cast that was difficult to cover up with foundation – a big problem since you’re meant to apply 5 pumps!

With the New Clean Screen, there still is a very slight white cast – but only when I apply the full 5 pumps, and it’s easily covered up by foundation.

Ultra Violette Clean Screen

Light Texture

While the Old Clean Screen had a good texture for a mineral sunscreen, the New Clean Screen has an even lighter, gel-like texture.

Less Pore Clogging

After trying this out for 2 weeks continuously, I was happy and surprised to find out that my pores weren’t clogged.

Ingredient Changes

I really shouldn’t have been surprised by these improvements though, because if you compare the ingredient lists, you’ll see that the New Clean Screen is a very different product from the Old Clean Screen.

Here’s the ingredients list of the Old Clean Screen:

Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide (20%)
Inactive Ingredients: Aqua, Isoamyl Laurate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sorbitan Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, Phenethyl Alcohol, Caprylyl Glycol, Glyceryl Isostearate, Xanthan Gum, Saccharide Isomerate, Citric Acid, Parfum, Cetearyl Glucoside, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Sucrose Cocoate, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Carthamus Tinctorius Seed Oil, Sodium Chloride, Glycerin, Cucumis Sativus Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, CI 77492, CI 77491, CI 77499

And here’s what’s in the New Clean Screen:

Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide (3%), Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl Tetramethylbutylphenol (2.25%), Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate (1.6%)
Inactive ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Butylene Glycol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Titanium Dioxide, Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl Tetramethylbutylphenol, Silica, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate, Caprylyl Glycol, Polysorbate 60, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Saccharide Isomerate, Decyl Glucoside, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Dimethicone, Sodium Chloride, CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499 (Iron Oxides)

Active Sunscreen Ingredients

While the old Clean Screen formula used inorganic zinc oxide (20%) as its only sunscreening ingredient, the New Clean Screen formula uses three:

  • Titanium dioxide (3%): An inorganic “mineral” ingredient that’s good at absorbing UVB, but not great at absorbing UVA
  • Tinosorb M (methylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenol, MBBT or bisoctrizole) (2.25%): A newer organic “chemical” sunscreen that’s excellent at absorbing both UVA and UVB, plus acts as a physical sunscreen that scatters some incoming UV
  • Uvinul A Plus (diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate or DHHB) (1,6%): Another newer organic “chemical” sunscreen that absorbs longer wavelength UVA 1 particularly well, which is rare

This makes it a combination sunscreen, unlike the Old Clean Screen which was purely inorganic (“physical”).

Zinc oxide is an inorganic “mineral” ingredient that’s very popular in sunscreens formulated for sensitive skin. While it can protect your skin from both UVA and UVB wavelengths (giving broad spectrum protection), it isn’t very efficient at protecting. This means you need a lot of zinc oxide in your sunscreen to get high UV protection.

Titanium dioxide on its own can’t be used in a sunscreen – while it’s better at absorbing UVB than zinc oxide, there’s not enough UVA protection to meet Australia’s sunscreen requirements. Tinosorb M and Uvinul A Plus fill that gap and make it broad spectrum.

Ultra Violette Clean Screen

The increased efficiency of the filters means you don’t need as much – we go from 20% zinc oxide in the Old Clean Screen down to a total of under 7% sunscreen ingredients in the New Clean Screen. That means it’s much easier to achieve a pleasant texture.

The lower amount of sunscreen ingredients also means less white cast. Titanium dioxide gives stronger white cast than zinc oxide, but since there’s so much less of it there’s less white cast overall. Tinosorb M also contributes some white cast.

Can chemical sunscreens be OK for sensitive skin?

Yes!

Since the New Clean Screen is a combo sunscreen, there’s naturally been a lot of questions about how chemical sunscreens can be included without increasing the chance of allergic reactions and irritation. There’s a misconception that mineral sunscreens are better for sensitive skin, and chemical sunscreens are all irritating, but this isn’t true anymore.

This misconception comes from the fact that older organic sunscreens like PABA would cause reactions – to the point where they’re almost never used in sunscreen anymore.

But as I mentioned in my chemical vs physical sunscreens post, newer sunscreen ingredients like Uvinul A Plus and Tinosorb M were specifically designed to overcome the issues with the older sunscreens. You can see from their structures they’re a lot larger than older sunscreens like PABA and oxybenzone:

chemical sunscreens

This means that they have a hard time penetrating into the living layers of your skin, so the risk of allergy, irritation and hormonal disruption is pretty insignificant.

They’re also photostable, which means they don’t break down after absorbing too much UV. This means the sunscreen itself doesn’t generate free radicals – something that can sometimes happen with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, even though they’re considered “safer” (they’re photostable, but if the sunscreen hasn’t been formulated carefully, they can turn other ingredients in the sunscreen into free radicals).

(For people who still prefer a completely mineral sunscreen, Ultra Violette are working on one, and it’ll be SPF 50+!)

Ultra Violette Clean Screen Pump Top

Other ingredient changes

  • Obviously, fragrance has been removed.
  • The featured plant extracts (green tea extract, cucumber extract and rose hip oil) have also been removed. Pentavitin is still there, and there’s increased amounts of other humectants too (butylene glycol, glycerin), giving the New Clean Screen a more hydrating finish. It still manages to not leave me shiny.

Overall, I’m very impressed by the New Clean Screen formulation. Ultra Violette have managed to address all of the major sticking points with the Old Clean Screen. While I’m sure some people will be upset that it “contains chemicals”, the fearmongering about chemical sunscreens isn’t warranted – especially since this sunscreen contains two that aren’t associated with sensitivities, hormonal disruption, photostability or environmental issues.

You can find Ultra Violette products on their website, Sephora Australia and Adore Beauty.

This post is sponsored by Ultra Violette; however, the content is all based on my independent research and my honest experience. For more information, see Disclosure Policy.

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23 thoughts on “Ultra Violette’s New Clean Screen & “Chemical” SPF for sensitive skin”

  1. I’m taking the plunge and finally ordering these! ☀️☀️☀️ Btw – I have an idea for a sunscreen related (kind of) blog post or YouTube video! ? How to remove the f-ing ugly sunscreen stains from clothing!! ?? My poor white tops ?? Closest i have come was a rust remover..

    Reply
    • I’ve been meaning to do a video on this! Actually have some white fabric lying around for staining 🙂 Which sunscreens have been worst for you?

      Reply
  2. I’m intrigued to try this sunscreen, but alas it’s only SPF 30…
    With the price point I feel like I deserve for SPF 50+ :”)))
    Anyway I like the lip sunscreen from ultraviolette, the smell is quite overwhelming tho, but it’s not drying and not easily slip around. I hope the tint is a little bit more opaque and the finish is less shiny, but nevertheless I love it so much!

    Reply
    • Yeah the lower protection is definitely a downside! I love the lip sunscreens too – it’s hard to find a high SPF lip product that you want to reapply!

      Reply
  3. Thanks for all the science-supported information you provide. I’m a huge fan of your blog and YouTube channel. And thank you for using high enough contrast with you blog text that it’s easy to read.

    Reply
  4. Does it stain clothing on necklines etc? I think I still see the chemical that causes this in the list. We’re on hard water and it’s a real dealbreaker for me.

    Reply
  5. Thanks Michelle always enjoy your posts. Which do you prefer using now, Supreme Screen or the new Clean Screen? My main issue is extreme sensitive eyes with most sunscreens. Ultra Ceuticals is a problem for my eyes if it gets into them throughout the day.

    Reply
    • I still prefer Supreme Screen – if my skin was sensitive to those filters I would go for Clean Screen though! I didn’t have an issue with Ultraceuticals in my eyes though, so unfortunately I can’t help you there 🙁

      Reply
  6. Thank you Michelle for your post, they are always so informative! I’m not quite sure if i have to reapply a sunscreen that has photostable filters like Tinossorb S or M or Uvinul A plus… Since they don’t break down after being exposed to a lot of sunlight. And also, I live in Central Europe.

    Reply
  7. Sounds really nice, except that I would prefer a higher protection factor. But as far as I can see I am not able to get it here in Germany anyway.

    Reply
  8. I am a huge fan of your blog as a fellow scientist! I have finally convinced myself to start wearing a face sunscreen every day. However, there’s so many options out there for sunscreens and moisturizers with SPF, it’s overwhelming. My question is…I’ve read that you need to reapply sunscreen every 90 minutes for continued protection. I don’t spend very much time outside, so I’m mostly worried about UVA rays that still affect skin indoors. I wear makeup every day so I’m not going to be reapplying on top of my foundation…Is there anything I can do to prolong efficacy of the sunscreen? Do I really lose protection after only 90 minutes?? Help! (Also is it really better to wear separate moisturizer and sunscreen or is a moisturizer with SPF 30 enough??)

    Reply
  9. Thanks, Michelle, You have Informed properly with its chemical formula. Which ingredients are used to make this sunscreen? I really appreciate always read your blogs to learn something with the scientific guidelines. But I want to know about the organic sunscreens. I hope you will help to get a clear understanding of organic sunscreens.
    I hope that it will be great if you write something on organic sunscreen. Thanks to sharing Michelle.

    Reply
  10. Thank you SO much for the review. I was going to buy the previous version of this sunscreen but I didn’t, solely because of the fragrance included in that. Why put irritating fragrance in a skin product? Yuck. Now I need a new sunscreen though to replace my discontinued favourite of many many years (Skinceuticals Ultimate UV Defence SPF 50 – have no idea why this was discontinued as it is excellent). I am dreading having to find a new sunscreen. Your review of the new fragrance free and combination physical and chemical formula of this UltaViolette is what I will get. Thank you again! I’ve signed up for all of your new updates after coming across your great and informative site.

    Reply
  11. Hi Michelle, thank you for this great review! Just wondering what you think of the titanium dioxide in this? I know you have mentioned before that it is quite unstable – do the other actives stabilise if adequately in this formulation?
    Thank you!

    Reply
  12. hi Michelle,
    I really enjoy your posts (this is the first time I’m asking a question).
    I see that this brand has a new zinc spf as well with a 50 rating. Looking at the active concentration it is 22% zinc oxide, however there are other spfs out there with same concentration of active but only 30 spf rating (eg sukin) – can you please explain why this would be so?
    I’ve seen some websites report that each 1% ZnO gives about 1 to 1.6 SPF – not sure about the reliability of those websites though – would love your expertise on this please.
    Also what impact if any does it have on rating whether ZnO or titanium are nano vs not?
    thanks!
    k

    Reply

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