Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 Sunscreen Review



If you have sensitive skin or you’re struggling with a skin condition like acne or rosacea, you know how challenging it can be to find a good sunscreen. Some sunscreens may clog your pores and cause breakouts, while others leave a greasy mess on your face. And don’t even get us started on the sunscreens that leave you looking like a ghost due to the white cast!

If this predicament sounds all too familiar, we may have a solution: Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 Sunscreen. This broad spectrum facial sunscreen is specifically formulated for skin concerns such as acne, hyperpigmentation, rosacea, and sensitive skin. It’s said to calm and protect skin while also promoting the appearance of healthy-looking skin.

In order to determine how well Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 Sunscreen performs, we’ll have to evaluate the key ingredients in this formula, as well as the research that supports (or doesn’t support) their use in skin care. We’ll also share some Elta MD reviews so that you can get an idea of what customers really think of this sunscreen.

Is Elta MD UV Clear Right For You?

Before we get into the details, here’s the TL;DR if you just want to know whether or not Elta MD UV Clear is right for you.

  • Key ingredients? Zinc oxide, octinoxate, niacinamide, sodium hyaluronate, vitamin E
  • Skin type? Recommended for all skin types, ideal for skin concerns such as acne, hyperpigmentation, rosacea, and sensitive skin
  • Texture? Lightweight and silky
  • Fragrance? No
  • Cruelty free? Yes
  • Vegan? Yes
  • Cost? $37 USD for 1.7 oz ($39 USD for tinted version)
  • EWG Rating? 4

        What’s The Texture of Elta MD UV Clear?

        Elta MD UV Clear has a very lightweight, silky texture that absorbs into the skin quickly without feeling heavy or greasy.

        You can thank cyclomethicone for this lovely texture. Cyclomethicone is a type of silicone that gives products a smooth silky texture, allowing them to glide on easily. Plus, it has a drier finish and it evaporates quickly after application. That means it won’t hang around and clog your pores!

        Is Elta MD UV Clear Tinted?

        Elta MD UV Clear is available in both a tinted and untinted version. However, there’s only one shade of the Elta MD UV Clear Tinted Sunscreen, which is meant to work on all skin tones.

        What Are The Key Ingredients in Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 Sunscreen?

        In order to determine how well Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 Sunscreen performs, we’ll have to evaluate the key ingredients in this formula. Let’s get started.

        Zinc Oxide: A Mineral Sunscreen That Deflects UV Rays

        Zinc oxide is one sunscreen ingredient in Elta MD UV Clear. It’s a mineral sunscreen, also known as a physical sunscreen, that protects your skin by using physical UV filters to block or deflect UV light.

        Physical sunscreens tend to be better tolerated by most skin types because they are not absorbed into the skin. Thus, they are especially useful for those with heat sensitive skin (i.e. rosacea patients) as well as those with acne-prone skin as they are typically less pore-clogging.

        However, physical sunscreens are thicker than chemical sunscreens and can often leave a white cast after application. Based on the Elta MD UV Clear reviews, it seems that most customers did not notice a white cast after applying this sunscreen.

        For example, one review says, “I find it very easy to blend and doesn’t leave a white cast if blended properly (although I’m fair so I can’t speak for other skin tones).”

        Octinoxate: A Chemical Sunscreen to Absorb UVB Rays

        The second sunscreen ingredient in Elta MD UV Clear is octinoxate.

        Octinoxate is the oldest and most commonly used UVB-absorbing agent in sunscreen. UVB rays are the type that cause sunburn, and UVA rays are the type that prematurely age your skin. Both types of rays can cause skin cancer.

        While octinoxate does provide some protection against UVA rays, it does not protect against the entire range of UVA wavelengths. But remember that the formula also contains zinc oxide, which blocks both UVA and UVB rays.

        One problem with octinoxate is that it’s absorbed into the body after one use, according to studies published by the FDA. Why is that a problem? Well, according to the EWG, octinoxate is a hormone disruptor and can also cause allergic reactions after exposure to ultraviolet light. Due to this, we cannot recommend Elta MD UV Clear.


        We love that Elta MD UV Clear contains a decent amount of niacinamide, which is one of the best skin care ingredients, in our opinion.

        Here’s why we love niacinamide: A publication in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology,

        states that niacinamide can repair the skin barrier and improve skin moisture, as well as reduce inflammation, blotchiness, hyperpigmentation, acne, and wrinkling. Pretty impressive, right?

        Sodium Hyaluronate: The Salt Form of The Moisture Magnet Hyaluronic Acid

        Elta MD UV Clear includes sodium hyaluronate, the sodium salt form of hyaluronic acid. Sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid are basically the same, and the two names are used interchangeably in the skin care industry.

        The main differences are that sodium hyaluronate is more stable, easier to formulate, and cheaper. That’s why it is common to see sodium hyaluronate on an ingredient list even though the product name might say hyaluronic acid. Once applied to the skin, sodium hyaluronate provides the same benefits of hyaluronic acid.

        Hyaluronic acid is a glycosaminoglycan (GAG), a long polysaccharide (sugar molecule) that’s able to absorb and hold a large amount of water. In fact, according to the journal Dermato Endocrinology, hyaluronic acid is the key molecule involved in skin moisture.

        Hyaluronic acid not only helps to keep your skin hydrated, but also promotes a more youthful appearance. Why? Because the extra moisture is extra volume, resulting in a plump, youthful complexion.

        Vitamin E: A Powerful Antioxidant

        The final key ingredient in Elta MD UV Clear is vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that hinders the chain reaction induced by free radicals.

        This is important because free radicals damage the cellular DNA, the cell membrane, and cellular proteins, including collagen. Damaged collagen manifests as signs of premature skin aging, including wrinkles, lines, and sagging skin. By breaking this chain reaction, vitamin E can help to prevent signs of aging.

        Another function of vitamin E is to help the skin retain moisture by strengthening the skin’s barrier function. When vitamin E is delivered to your skin through the sebaceous (oil) glands, it improves water-binding capacity and hydrates the stratum corneum (the uppermost layer of skin).

        How to Use Elta MD UV Clear?

        Apply Elta MD UV Clear to face and neck 15 minutes before sun exposure. This product should be applied after your serum and moisturizer, but before makeup. The brand recommends reapplying Elta MD UV Clear at least every 2 hours.

        Where to Buy Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 Sunscreen?

        Elta MD UV Clear and other Elta MD skin care products are sold on the brand’s website, as well as several third party online retailers, such as Dermstore, Skinstore, LovelySkin, SkinCareRx, Amazon, and more. The brand has a list of authorized retailers on their website.

        How Much is Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 Sunscreen?

        Elta MD UV Clear costs $37 USD for 1.7 oz on the brand’s website, and the Elta MD UV Clear Tinted Sunscreen costs $39 USD.

        Is Elta MD Cruelty Free?

        Yes, Elta MD is cruelty free and is a PETA certified Beauty Without Bunnies partner.

        Is Elta MD UV Clear Vegan?

        Elta MD UV Clear is a vegan-friendly product, but not all Elta MD products are vegan.

        Our Verdict

        We want to love Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 Sunscreen because it’s formulated well — but we can’t ignore that the formula contains octinoxate. Due to the possible health consequences of using products with octinoxate, we can’t recommend Elta MD UV Clear.


        • Formula contains one mineral sunscreen (zinc oxide)
        • Formula contains beneficial key ingredients (sodium hyaluronate, niacinamide, vitamin E etc.)
        • Fragrance free
        • Many positive Elta MD UV Clear reviews
        • Elta MD is cruelty free


        • The formula contains octinoxate, an ingredient that disrupts hormones in the body and can also cause allergic reactions
        • Mid-range cost ($37 USD for 1.7 oz)



        J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010 Feb; 3(2): 22–41
        EWG “The trouble with ingredients in sunscreens”
        Dermatoendocrinol. 2012 Jul 1; 4(3): 253–258.



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