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!
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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?
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:
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+!)
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.
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.