Moisturisers with sunscreen user trial

People are increasingly choosing to use a moisturiser with sunscreen, to protect them from harmful UV rays.
 
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  • Updated:26 Sep 2007
 

01 .Introduction

Moisturiser

User trial of 26 moisturisers with sunscreen priced from $5.40 to $175 per 50mL or 50g

We arranged for 280 home testers to triall the moisturisers. Participants were given six unidentified moisturisers, which they used for three days consecutively.

We asked our home testers to assess:  

  • If the moisturisers kept their skin from drying out.
  • The ease of absorption.
  • The feel of their skin after three days of use.
  • The strength and appeal of the fragrance of the moisturiser.
  • The appeal of the texture of the moisturiser.
  • Whether they noticed any skin or eye irritation caused by the moisturiser.

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Findings:

  • Moisturisers with sunscreen can help prevent UV damage when you’re out and about, especially when you might not normally wear sunscreen because the sun feels less strong.
  • Unless they’re applied properly, they’re no substitute for a primary sunscreen.
  • There was no significant correlation between price and overall rating, so paying more for a prestige brand and glamorous packaging won’t mean you’ll be any happier with the moisturiser.
  • None of the six products with an SPF higher than 15 were among the top three.
  • The highest-rating brand with an SPF of 30+ (Cancer Council Moisturising Face Cream) came in equal-sixth place

Please note: this information was current as of September 2007 but is still a useful guide today.


Brands trialled

  • L’Oréal Paris Visible Results Daily Skin Perfecting Moisturiser
  • Dove Essential Nutrients Protective Day Cream
  • Garnier Nutritionist Regenerating Daily Moisturiser
  • Estée Lauder DayWear Plus Multi-Protection Anti-Oxidant Creme
  • RoC Hydra+ Multi-Protection Hydrating Fluid
  • Lancôme Bienfait Multi-Vital High Potency Moisturiser Cream
  • The Cancer Council Moisturising Face Cream
  • Blooms The Chemist Total-E Cream
  • The Body Shop Vitamin E Facial Day Cream
  • Clinique Superdefense Triple Action Moisturiser
  • Johnsons Daily Facial Moisturiser
  • Natio Daily Protection Face Moisturiser
  • Olay Complete Defense Daily UV Moisturising Lotion
  • Elizabeth Arden First Defense Advanced Anti-Oxidant Cream
  • David Jones Vitamin E Protective Lotion
  • Dior HydrAction Visible Defense Hydra-Protective Light Creme
  • SK-II Advanced Protect Essence
  • Yves Saint Laurent HydraFeel Soft Hydrating Water Lotion
  • Nivea Visage Optimal Protection Daily Moisturiser
  • Clarins Moisture Quenching Hydra-Care Lotion
  • Simple Regeneration Defending Day Moisturiser
  • Occitane Olive Daily Face Cream
  • True Solutions Total Age Protector
  • Dermalogica Sheer Moisture
  • Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture
  • Ultraceuticals Professional Protective Daily Moisturiser

What else you'll get in this report

As well as test results for 26 brands you'll also get:

  • Invaluable buying information: practical advice and tips. Read before you buy!
  • CHOICE Shopper: Buy a membership and get this exclusive members service that can save you time and money on your purchase.
 
 

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The following models scored the best results in our test

What to buy
Brand Price
L’Oreal Paris Visible Results Daily Skin Perfecting Moisturiser SPF 15 $26.95/50mL
Garnier Nutritionist Regenerating Daily Moisturiser SPF 15 $15.60/50mL
Dove Essential Nutrients Protective Day Cream SPF 15 $8.60/50mL
Cancer Council Moisturising Face Cream SPF 30+ $9.95/50mL

Results table

Full results for all models are shown in the table below

Scores Details
Brand (in rank order; number of trialists in brackets) Overall score (%) Score as a moisturiser (%) Texture score (%) Absorption score (%) Fragrance score (%) SPF Size of pack (mL or g) Price ($) per 50mL or g*
L’Oréal Paris Visible Results Daily Skin Perfecting Moisturiser (67) 73 72 85 88 72 15 50 26.95
Dove Essential Nutrients Protective Day Cream (59) 68 68 66 78 53 15 50 8.60
Garnier Nutritionist Regenerating Daily Moisturiser (64) 68 67 74 80 70 15 50 15.60
Estée Lauder DayWear Plus Multi-Protection Anti-Oxidant Creme (71) 66 68 75 80 71 15 50 76.00
RoC Hydra+ Multi-Protection Hydrating Fluid (53) 66 68 70 84 67 15 40 43.75
Lancôme Bienfait Multi-Vital High Potency Moisturiser Cream (61) 65 67 69 82 68 15 50 89.00
The Cancer Council Moisturising Face Cream (67) 65 67 62 77 64 30+ 75 9.95
Blooms The Chemist Total-E Cream (57) 64 65 70 85 55 20 75 7.95
The Body Shop Vitamin E Facial Day Cream (64) 64 66 65 84 68 15 75 17.95
Clinique Superdefense Triple Action Moisturiser (59) 63 64 63 77 42 25 50 90.00
Johnsons Daily Facial Moisturiser (58) 63 66 66 76 56 15 50 7.50
Natio Daily Protection Face Moisturiser (63) 63 61 68 80 66 15 100 6.50
Olay Complete Defense Daily UV Moisturising Lotion (60) 62 63 62 78 62 30+ 75 9.25
Elizabeth Arden First Defense Advanced Anti-Oxidant Cream (69) 61 64 66 76 71 15 (A) 50 75.00
David Jones Vitamin E Protective Lotion (53) 60 64 60 78 62 15 120 6.25
Dior HydrAction Visible Defense Hydra-Protective Light Creme (55) 60 63 59 80 68 15 50 95.00
SK-II Advanced Protect Essence (53) 60 61 64 85 48 15 30 175.00
Yves Saint Laurent HydraFeel Soft Hydrating Water Lotion (78) 60 60 57 83 71 15 50 83.00
Nivea Visage Optimal Protection Daily Moisturiser (58) 59 62 65 82 64 15 50 16.00
Clarins Moisture Quenching Hydra-Care Lotion (60) 58 61 52 84 55 15 50 74.00
Simple Regeneration Defending Day Moisturiser (55) 58 59 60 74 40 15 50 17.95
L’Occitane Olive Daily Face Cream (64) 57 61 59 64 62 15 50 39.95
True Solutions Total Age Protector (63) 57 54 50 73 33 30+ 100 25.00
Dermalogica Sheer Moisture (59) 56 57 48 71 49 15 40 87.50
Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture (62) 56 57 54 80 37 15 115 5.40
Ultraceuticals Professional Protective Daily Moisturiser (61) 56 56 52 73 47 30+ 100 30.00
 

Table notes

* Price per 50mL or grams was calculated from the prices we paid in April-May 2007.
(A) Product labelled ‘with sunscreens’ but Elizabeth Arden has confirmed it has an SPF of 15.

L’Oreal Paris Visible Results Daily Skin Perfecting Moisturiser SPF 15

Visible results

Price: $26.95 (50 mL)

Trialist comments:

  • "It’s the complete package — texture, fragrance, absorbs well and moisturises. I loved it!"
  • “Delicate fragrance, smooth texture, absorbed well, make-up application great. Didn’t make my skin oily or greasy.”
  • “Felt expensive!”

 

Garnier Nutritionist Regenerating Daily Moisturiser SPF 15

Garnier nutrionist

Price: $15.60 (50 mL)

Trialist comments:

  • "Didn’t have any of that ‘sun lotion’ feeling."
  • “Liked this moisturiser because of its fragrance, easy absorption and nice silky feel.”
  • “Perfect consistency, not too thin or oily.”

Dove Essential Nutrients Protective Day Cream SPF 15

Dove

Price: $8.60 (50 mL)

Trialist comments:

  • "This was a lovely light moisturiser."
  • "Not overpowering, really nice base scent to start the day."
  • "Spread easily and evenly and absorbed quickly.”

 

Best with SPF 30+

Cancer Council Moisturising Face Cream SPF 30+

Cancer councilPrice: $9.95* (50 mL) *Actual container size is 75 mL

Trialist comments:

  • “I thought on the first day this moisturiser was going to be too heavy on my skin — how wrong I was. By the third day I was impressed. Easy to apply without having to work it into my skin. Feels nice to wear and doesn’t turn oily after several hours.”
  • “Perfume good, worked OK as a moisturiser, but a sunscreen feel to it.”
  • “It was very smooth and delicate. Felt very nice on the skin – not oily, not smelly, not too thick or thin.”

Sunscreen is still important

About half of all skin cancers are found on the head and neck, including melanoma — the deadliest skin cancer. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can also cause premature aging.

UV protection is essential all day, every day, so is using a moisturiser with sunscreen a good idea? The answer’s yes, but with reservations. There’s a danger that moisturisers containing sunscreen can lull us into a false sense of security. Why? Because we tend to use it like a regular moisturiser: that is, sparingly.
Moisturiser
To get the full claimed protection, you’d need to use it like a sunscreen: apply it liberally (more than half a teaspoon at a time to the face and neck) and smear it on the skin rather than working it in; put it on at least 15 minutes before going out; and reapply it every couple of hours.

Used like this, though, you’d be paying more than $10 per application of the SK-II Advance Protect Essence ($175 for 50 mL).

As well as protecting us from cancer, sunscreen can reduce the signs of premature aging, such as wrinkling, rough skin, broken or burst capillaries, and uneven colouring. The sun is thought to be responsible for about 90% of the visible signs of aging among Australians.

Labelling issues

In the past regulatory authorities didn’t allow this sort of product (called a secondary sunscreen) to carry a specific SPF claim on the label, and the assumption was that most people didn’t use it as their primary sunscreen.
Test
Now SPF claims are allowed, though, there are concerns that some people are using it as their primary sunscreen, but aren’t getting the stated protection because they don’t use enough.

However, if it’s a choice between a regular moisturiser or one with sunscreen, it’s better to wear the latter on an everyday basis. While the sun might not be fierce at the beginning and end of the day, UV radiation, in particular UVA, is still very much present.

UVA, which penetrates more deeply into the skin than the ‘burning’ UVB, is responsible for aging and melanoma, so it’s worth being protected all the time. Just use a proper sunscreen as well, particularly if you go out in the middle of the day, when UV peaks (between 10 am and 3 pm).

Interesting skin facts

  • No moisturiser has so far been shown to turn back the clock. No matter how expensive it is, a moisturiser can only keep your skin moist and reduce the appearance of fine lines.
  • Dry skin doesn’t cause wrinkles but can make them look worse — UV radiation damages the skin’s support structure, breaking down collagen and elastin to form wrinkles.
  • Your skin can repair itself. There’s some evidence that avoiding the sun — which includes rigorous use of sunscreen — allows the skin to start repairing itself from at least some of the past damage done to it.
  • Too much moisturiser can make your skin look older — it keeps the old skin cells hanging around on the surface for longer, while the fresh, new cells lie waiting underneath.
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