When it comes to exclusively mineral sunscreens some of us love them, and some of us hate them, I have mixed feelings about such sunscreens. I value them for how gentle they are for the skin, and basically, all people can use them. I am not always a fan of their texture, to be precise, how they sit on my skin. Some of them are drying, and some of them are oily, I know it’s not about the filters themselves but the sunscreen formulations. The other aspect that I appreciate about them is that they create a perfect base underneath any BB cream or cushion, everything glides on and looks smooth. One more thing that distinguishes mineral sunscreens, for me, is the white cast. I have fair skin, and they still leave a white hint on my face. I can only imagine that people with darker complexions avoid them solely for this reason. However, I seek the white cast that mineral sunscreens leave behind, I find them colour correcting for my reactive and often red face. I cannot imagine playing with colour correctors, I tried once, and it didn’t look appealing at all. So mineral sunscreens are a way to go for me.
One of my all-time favourites, when it comes to mineral sunscreens, was Obagi Matte, which wasn’t 100% mineral but in a large majority. However, it was reformulated last year, and I have not got the chance to try the new version, yet. Instead, I have decided to test out Paula’s Choice (PC) Calm Non-Greasy Moisturiser SPF 30. Before buying this cream, I had read multiple reviews raving about how light and great Paula’s sunscreens are; I’ve tried a few samples of their chemical sunscreen myself. However, I don’t like to buy exclusively chemical sunscreens from the US, because the US FDA is behind with chemical filters. Because of that, Americans are fortunate with a variety of mineral sunscreens. Anyway, it was a perfect occasion for me to try another product from PC and probably find my new, favourite, mineral sunscreen. The other thing that appealed to me is PC’s ethos of including as many antioxidants as possible; it’s also the case here. This sunscreen contains liquorice root extract, which soothes the skin and helps with hyperpigmentation, after those spots that come uninvited.
The sunscreen is quite pleasant. It has an emollient base, which doesn’t dry out my skin and leaves a dewy finish. I mean dewy, not oily, not greasy, but pleasantly looking skin, like porcelain. I enjoy the finish, to be honest. Despite the micronised (nano) form of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in this sunscreen, I need to follow up with something colouring to cover up the whiteness, but it looks good nonetheless. Of course, it melts when I sweat too much; after all, it’s a mineral sunscreen. Though, it makes an excellent correcting primer for my reactive face. It doesn’t break me out and isn’t drying, which can happen with mineral sunscreens. Instead, it’s very gentle, and I am sure that all skin types will enjoy this sunscreen, as there are two types: for dry to normal and normal to oily skins.
As much as I enjoy the finish, I am concerned about the level of protection this sunscreen delivers. After ordering the sunscreen, I emailed PC’s customer service to ask further details about the UVA protection levels of this product; because there is no encircled UVA sign on it. The response came in very quickly. I was satisfied as it was a very long email (good customer service, if not for the information). For the first time, I read the email with some excitement, and I completely did not catch the incorrect information it contained. In my email, I’d asked them to specify the UVA rating with either PPD or PA systems and whether the sunscreen meets the EU standard (UVA: UVB in 1:3 ratio). Well, the person that responded, told me that they don’t use the above systems, but they test their sunscreens according to EU standards (great!). I was also told that the sunscreen states ‘broad spectrum’ so it meets the ratio of 1:3 of UVA to UVB protection standard adopted by the EU.
The FDA requires sunscreens tests for the same UVA light length as the EU or Australia. However, the problem is that the duration of protection does not have to be represented in the same systems as in other regions of the world. The FDA does not require the UVA/UVB levels to be in 1:3 proportions –this information is readily available on FDA’s website, just look around for more. So if PC cannot put an encircled UVA sign on this product or any other product, it means that they simply do NOT meet the EU’s standards. The EU’s standards are sort of similar to Australian ‘broad spectrum’ (by the way, this term is awkward in Europe, I know only one European brand that uses it). Australian sunscreen regulations are one of THE, I mean, THE strictest in the world. They also have the 1/3 standard, but then the sunscreens also have to meet other rules, which in Europe they are more relaxed, like resistance to water.
After reading the email for the second time, I headed to the Australian website of Paula’s Choice to see how the situation looks there. To my surprise, the same sunscreen with the same ingredients is labelled as SPF 15 broad spectrum and not SPF 30, in Australia. In order to be sold there, it had to meet the requirements of the Australian Government. Considering how the sunscreen is formulated, PC had to downgrade its SPF label otherwise they wouldn’t be able to sell it to Aussies. This makes me uneasy about using this sunscreen, as the UVA protection is low. I will finish this tube, but I will not repurchase.
Well, I can only hope that PC will reformulate its sunscreens to meet EU’s standards and will formulate its future sunscreens in a better way. It is possible for exclusively mineral sunscreens to reach the EU’s standards, as Bioderma have done with Photoderm MINERAL SPF 50+. I used it, last year, and if you google it has the encircled UVA sign on the back of the bottle. I actually liked the sunscreen on my body, but it was too oily for my face. And also Avène have achieved that with their MINÉRAL line. So it is possible, just with a good formulation, and PC are all about ‘well formulated’ products, so they should do a better job.
This is an image from paulaschoice.com, my picture above is of the new version. The old style tube and the new one have labels with SPF 30 for American, Asian, and European markets.
This is an image from paulaschoice.com.au. Apparently, Australians didn’t get an update on the packaging (probably they will), however, as you can see the label states SPF 15.
EU ingredients list:
Aqua, Ethylhexyl Palmitate (emollient), Zinc Oxide (6%, Nano, sunscreen), Cyclomethicone (hydration), Titanium Dioxide (2,32%, Nano, sunscreen), Dimethicone (hydration), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate (emollient), Caprylyl Methicone (hydration), Glyceryl Stearate (emollient), PEG-100 Stearate (texture-enhancing), Polysorbate 80 (texture-enhancing), Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer (texture-enhancing), Isohexadecane (texture-enhancing), Cetyl Alcohol (texture-enhancing), Polyglyceryl-6 Isostearate (texture-enhancing), Propylene Glycol (hydration), Allantoin (skin-soothing), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract (skin-soothing), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (skin-soothing), Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract (skin-soothing), Alumina (stabilizer), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (hydration/skin-soothing), Glycerin (hydration), Panthenol (skin replenishing), Algae Extract (skin replenishing), Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone (texture-enhancing), Polyhydroxystearic Acid (texture-enhancing), Triethoxysilylethyl Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Hexyl Dimethicone (texture-enhancing), Caprylyl Glycol (preservative), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Diethylhexyl Carbonate (stabilizer), Triethoxycaprylylsilane (texture-enhancing), Disodium EDTA (stabilizer), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Chlorphenesin (preservative). (paulaschoice-eu.com)
Australian ingredients list:
Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 2.32%, Zinc Oxide 6% (sunscreens);
Other Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Ethylhexyl Palmitate (emollient), Cyclomethicone (hydration), Dimethicone (hydration), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate (emollient), Caprylyl Methicone (hydration), Glyceryl Stearate (emollient), PEG-100 Stearate (texture-enhancing), Polysorbate 80 (texture-enhancing), Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer (texture-enhancing), Isohexadecane (texture-enhancing), Cetyl Alcohol (texture-enhancing), Polyglyceryl-6 Isostearate (texture-enhancing), Propylene Glycol (hydration), Allantoin (skin-soothing), Chamomilla Recutita Matricaria Flower Extract (skin-soothing), Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract (green tea extract/skin-soothing), Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract (licorice extract/skin-soothing), Alumina (stabilizer), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (hydration/skin-soothing), Glycerin (hydration), Panthenol (skin replenishing), Algae Extract (skin replenishing), Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Polyhydroxystearic Acid (texture-enhancing), Triethoxysilylethyl Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Hexyl Dimethicone (texture-enhancing), Caprylyl Glycol (preservative), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Diethylhexyl Carbonate (stabilizer), Triethoxycaprylylsilane (texture-enhancing), Disodium EDTA (stabilizer), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Chlorphenesin (preservative). (paulaschoice.com.au)
Paula’s Choice Calm Non-Greasy Moisturiser SPF 30 is priced at €34, for 60ml in Europe, you can get it on their website.