Elta MD Review - The Dermatology Review

Elta MD Review



The Story Behind Elta MD

Elta MD began as a physician-dispensed skin care line for use only in hospitals, burn centers, and rehabilitation clinics. Due to the brand’s success with treating burns and wounds, they decided to expand into the cosmeceuticals industry (physician-dispensed channel). Today, the brand is most well known for their sunscreens. In fact, even Kourtney Kardashian, Drew Barrymore, and other celebrities have shared how much they love Elta MD sunscreens. What’s so special about these sunscreens? Read on to learn more about the key ingredients in these sunscreens, as well as the brand’s best selling products, Elta MD reviews from real customers, and more.

What are the Best Skin Care Products of 2021?

The Top 5 Elta MD Skincare Products

In addition to their popular sunscreens, Elta MD offers a variety of skin care products, including cleansers, moisturizers, body lotions, eye care, and more. Below we’ll discuss three of the best selling Elta MD sunscreen products, as well as a popular moisturizer and cleanser.

UV Clear Sunscreen
The Elta MD UV Clear Sunscreen is the brand’s most popular sunscreen. This broad spectrum sunscreen is said to calm and protect sensitive skin types prone to discoloration and breakouts associated with acne and rosacea. The silky, lightweight formula is fragrance-free, oil-free, paraben-free, sensitivity-free, and noncomedogenic. The formula contains the mineral sunscreen zinc oxide and the chemical sunscreen octinoxate, which together provide broad spectrum SPF 46 protection.

UV Clear Tinted Sunscreen
The Elta MD UV Clear Tinted Sunscreen has almost the same formula as the UV Clear Sunscreen, except this formula contains iron oxides in order to create a “universally flattering tint”. It is said to blend to match your skin tone and mask discoloration and breakouts, giving you a smooth, flawless-looking complexion.

UV Elements
UV Elements is another popular Elta MD sunscreen product. In contrast to the Elta MD UV Clear Sunscreen, the UV Elements formula contains only mineral sunscreen ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The rest of the formula is primarily composed of silicones, which give this product a silky, smooth skin feel. Sodium hyaluronate and vitamins C and E are also present in this formula.

Elta MD Moisturizer
The Elta MD Moisturizer is said to melt on contact with the skin, applying easily and gently to avoid disturbing tender, irritated skin. It is an occlusive moisturizer that is claimed to retain 90% of the skin’s moisture for at least 12 hours while soothing inflamed, irritated, flaky, intact post-procedure skin. There are actually just three ingredients in the Elta MD moisturizer: petrolatum, paraffin, and PVP eicosene copolymer. You may be familiar with the ingredient petrolatum, also known as petroleum jelly, because it is the ingredient found in Vaseline.

Foaming Facial Cleanser
The Elta MD Foaming Facial Cleanser is the final best selling product we’d like to introduce. This cleanser produces a thick, rich foam that is said to gently loosen makeup, oil, and other impurities on the skin and in the pores, leaving your skin feeling clean and balanced. The formula contains amino acids and enzymes to cleanse the skin. For example, sodium cocoyl glycinate is an amino acid-derived cleansing ingredient that naturally produces a creamy-feeling lather.

What Are The Key Elta MD Skincare Ingredients?

Since this brand is known best for their sunscreens, let’s take a closer look at the key ingredients you’ll find in the Elta MD sunscreen products.

All Elta MD sunscreen products include zinc oxide as the primary UV protectant. Zinc oxide is a physical sunscreen, which means it 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. The one problem with physical sunscreen ingredients is that they are quite thick and can often leave a white cast after application. However, Elta MD has taken this into consideration and formulates their sunscreens to easily rub into the skin without a white cast.

Another key ingredient that you’ll find in the Elta MD sunscreen products is octinoxate, also known as octyl methoxycinnamate. 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.

Niacinamide is another key ingredient that you’ll find in many of the Elta MD sunscreen products. Niacinamide is the amide form of vitamin B3 (niacin) that provides many benefits to the skin. For instance, niacinamide is well known as a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants help the skin combat free radicals, the unstable molecules that contribute to the formation of premature wrinkles and fine lines on the skin. Niacinamide is also a precursor to the coenzymes NADH and NADPH. These coenzymes play an important role in cellular metabolism, which means they provide skin cells with the energy needed to function properly. Lastly, 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.

Many Elta MD skincare products contain sodium hyaluronate, the salt form of hyaluronic acid. The benefits of sodium hyaluronate are based on the ability of this molecule to absorb and hold water. In fact, sodium hyaluronate is able to hold more water than any other natural substance—up to 1,000 times its weight in water! Therefore, sodium hyaluronate is an exceptional ingredient for adding hydration to the skin. Furthermore, according to the scholarly journal DermatoEndocrinology, sodium hyaluronate helps to reduce signs of aging by protecting collagen and decreasing epidermal water loss associated with sun exposure, low humidity, and other external factors associated with skin dryness.

If you try the Elta MD sunscreen products, you’ll probably notice that they are very lightweight and silky, and that they apply to the skin very easily. This is because nearly all of the formulations contain high concentrations of silicones. Silicones improve a product’s spreadability while imparting a silky, smooth skin feel. After topical application, silicones form a protective covering on the skin that provides both water-binding and water-resistant properties. The water-binding portion of the molecule is the highly flexible and mobile siloxane backbone, which binds to moisture in the air and holds it to the skin. This backbone also allows the water-repelling methyl groups to orient themselves toward the surface, creating a waterproof “umbrella” that prevents trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). Furthermore, the smooth, even base that is formed helps other beneficial ingredients traverse through it to the skin more easily as well as prevent contact with potentially irritating ingredients.

Where are Elta MD Skincare Products Sold?

Elta MD skincare products are not sold on the brand’s website. The products are only sold on third party online retailers, such as Dermstore.com, LovelySkin.com, Walmart.com, and more. Elta MD skincare products are also available through thousands of authorized physicians. The brand has a locator on their website so you can input your address to find a physician that sells Elta MD skincare products near you.

What is The Elta MD Return Policy?

Elta MD does not have a return policy on their website since they do not sell products on their website and, therefore, don’t accept returns.

Is Elta MD Cruelty Free?

Elta MD is cruelty free. The brand’s animal testing statement on their website says, “EltaMD does not test any of its products or any of its ingredients on animals, anywhere in the world nor does EltaMD delegate this task to others.”

Elta MD Reviews

Even though Elta MD does not sell their products on their website, they still display reviews for their products. Elta MD reviews are overall very positive, with most of the products receiving 4 and 5 star ratings. The product with the most reviews is the Elta MD UV Elements Sunscreen, which has received an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars after more than 200 customer reviews.

There are many positive Elta MD reviews for the UV Elements Sunscreen that confirm this formula really does blend into the skin well, hides imperfections and uneven skin tone, and does not leave a white cast. For example, one raving review says, “Beyond amazed with the new UV ELEMENTS!! I live in a very humid climate and prefer no foundation so my face isn’t messy when I sweat. This is now my go to product , especially during the hot months! It provides a beautiful coverage with a perfect tint. I love the fact that it’s a 100% physical and is oil-free! Not to mention the other anti-aging ingredients that just gives my skin healthy benefits that the skin needs. EltaMD products are the BEST on the market and yet again have hit the mark with ELEMENTS!”

There aren’t many negative Elta MD reviews for the UV Elements Sunscreen, however, the ones that we did read were mostly concerning the tint. Even though the tint is said to be “universally flattering”, many customers disagree. Some say the tint is too orange and some even say it makes their skin look dirty. One negative Elta MD review says, “My dermatologist recommended this product and I purchased it from her. However, it oxidizes and turns my skin orange. I am medium fair and wish Elta made this in a clear or lighter shade. I cannot also use the UV Clear because my skin burns after application and I have to wash it off immediately. Please consider making a clear or at least lighter colored product. Otherwise, it is very good.”

What Are Some Alternatives to Elta MD Skincare?

Overall, we think that Elta MD sunscreen products are a good choice for protecting your skin from UV damage and, therefore, preventing signs of aging. But what if you’re already dealing with signs of aging, such as lines, wrinkles, and age spots? We noticed that Elta MD skincare products do contain a few ingredients that can help reduce signs of aging, such as sodium hyaluronate and antioxidants. However, when it comes to really tackling signs of aging like age spots, lines, and wrinkles, we typically like to see retinol and peptides in a skin care product.

Looking for a night cream with retinol? Try Formulyst’s Anti-Aging Night Cream with Retinol, which is formulated to help hydrate, soothe, and transform your skin while you sleep. Rather than using standard retinol, the formula contains innovative Encapsulated Retinol Technology in order to deliver a higher concentration of retinol to your skin without irritation. Retinol is clinically proven to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, fade dark spots, improve uneven skin tone, restore skin firmness, and shrink the appearance of enlarged pores. The Anti-Aging Night Cream with Retinol also helps to lock in moisture and restore the skin’s barrier function with emollients such as squalane and jojoba oil.

When it comes to peptide serums, one of our favorites is Formulyst’s Anti-Wrinkle Peptide Serum. This fragrance-free, anti-aging serum combines six rejuvenating peptides into one formula. All of these peptides have a unique mechanism of action, and they work together to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The peptides are combined in a base of several potent hydrating ingredients, including glycerin, Chondrus Crispus extract, and sodium hyaluronate. Ultimately, Formulyst Anti-Wrinkle Peptide Serum can help to promote skin that looks and feels smoother, stronger, and more youthful.

There’s no need to compromise when it comes to finding skincare that is effective and safe. Carrot & Stick takes a tough love approach to skincare, perfectly balancing the power of plants with cutting edge science. Not only is Carrot & Stick good for your skin, it is also good for the environment as the formulas skip harmful chemicals commonly found in skin care products.

1. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010 Feb; 3(2): 22–41
2. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012 Jul 1; 4(3): 253–258



Carrot & Stick

Carrot & Stick takes a tough love approach to skincare. What does this mean? It perfectly balances the power of plants with innovative science, offering the best of both worlds.Read More


The philosophy of Formulyst is long-term and effective skincare, rather than covering up any imperfections. The comprehensive line of products tackles everything from wrinkles to dark spots and dry skin. While some brands rely on unnecessary fillers and scents, Formulyst focuses on ingredients that help create results, such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.Read More


Maystorm’s philosophy is “We help beauty blossom, naturally.” This new skincare brand does this by harnessing the power of plants and tapping into the inherent wisdom in nature. As a mighty storm rains down nutrients and vitality upon a forest, encouraging new growth, Maystorm infuses skin at the cellular level with replenishing ingredients. Think of it as the calm after a storm, when the earth is left refreshed and renewed.Read More

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...

Eltamd PM Therapy Facial Moisturizer Review

EltaMd offers an excellent range of products for those of you who are looking for workhorse products that do what they claim, without all of the bells and whistles. Their no frills approach has led them to release some of the best and most highly recommended sunscreens by dermatologists and estheticians. But they have also developed a highly curated range of essential skincare products, like the EltaMD PM Therapy Facial Moisturizer. This nighttime moisturizer was designed to nourish and condition the skin while also restoring and repairing as you sleep. As a formula first brand, EltaMd has been very purposeful with their ingredients, and have made this product completely oil-free, fragrance-free and non comedogenic in order to cater to all skin types, including those with ultra sensitive skin. In addition to this, the formula behind this product also contains ceramides to reinforce the skin’s natural moisture barrier, niacinamide to brighten and even out the complexion, while antioxidants speeding up the metabolism to maximize the skin’s nightly reparative processes.


EltaMD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46 Review

One of the most well known, cult favorite brands for a daily use sunscreens is the EltaMD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46. This product range was developed in order to help users find the perfect daily sunscreen for them. Of all the skincare products in your routine, sunscreen is by far the most important for your overall health, as well as the condition of your skin. Preventing UV damage is the number one way to avoid premature ageing and hyperpigmentation. The key components of this product in particular is it’s completely clear and weightless finish, the mineral filters and the no nonsense formula. Like the name would suggest this product is completely clear and can be used by all skin types without worrying about a waxy, sticky white cast. Additionally this product features only mineral UV filters, which often work before for those with sensitive skin types. The formula as a whole for this product is very basic, which helps to prevent any sensitivity so that all skin types can benefit from a daily sunscreen.


Eltamd Renew Eye Gel Review

Elta Md has been a fan favorite for dermatologists and skin care enthusiasts for years. Classic products, like their Renew Eye Gel offer excellent formulations at reasonable prices. The Renew Eye Gel features key active ingredients including niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and peptides to nourish, fortify and hydrate the skin. More unique ingredients like saccharomyces cerevisiae extract and glycosaminoglycans increase collagen support, reduce dark circles and improve skin’s overall look and feel. This product is also completely oil-free, and most users have noticed improvements within the first few days of use.


EltaMD Barrier Renewal Complex Review

As more research continues to be done about the skin, the role of the skin barrier has become more and more important. This barrier is what helps to keep our skin healthy, balanced and hydrated. When your barrier is impaired, you can expect everything from increased dehydration, clogged pores, sensitivity, and redness. But the good news is, is that more and more companies are coming out with products designed to reinforce the skin barrier, the easier it is to avoid damage. Products like the EltaMD Barrier Renewal Complex was designed to moisturize the stratum corneum and improve the condition of compromised skin after just one application in 24 hours. This formula contains a blend of ceramides and other essential lipids, making up the three main components of a healthy skin barrier. These ingredients also work outside of the skin barrier to minimize inflammation within the skin while also helping to promote skin cell turnover. According to the brand, within 21 days, skin appears softer, smoother, healthier and overall, more youthful. Like all other EltaMD products, this product is fragrance-free, paraben-free, sensitivity-free and noncomedogenic.


EltaMD UV Replenish Broad Spectrum SPF 44 Review

The EltaMD UV Replenish Broad Spectrum SPF 44 was designed to serve as a completely physical sunscreen that offers broad spectrum production as well as moisture to replenish dry, damaged or stressed out skin. The formula behind this product demonstrates all of the expertise that this brand has gathered over the years and why they have been such a trusted sunscreen brand for so many skincare enthusiasts. This formula in particular features hyaluronic acid to draw hydration into the skin while antioxidants help to reinforce the physical filters and protect against other forms of environmental damage such as pollution and free radicals. Finally, this formula also offers IR and HEV light protection, making it an excellent option for everyday wear. As an oil-free formula, this product would be an excellent option for those of you who are looking for a light as air finish and an a sensitive skin friendly alternative to chemical sunscreens.


EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser

For more than 25 years, EltaMD has formulated skin care products, such as sunscreens, wound healing products, and anti-aging formulas, that are widely used and recommended by physicians and other medical professionals. EltaMD applies that experience to create innovative products that help restore, protect, and maintain healthy skin. This review will cover everything you need to know about the EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser.

What is it?

The EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser is a blend of enzymes and amino acids designed to loosen makeup, excess oil, and other impurities on the skin and in the pores. The cleanser generates foam that gently lifts these impurities away from the skin, allowing them to be rinsed away. The result is clean, fresh skin that is prepared for the next steps in your skin care routine. This foaming facial cleanser will not cause dryness or irritation because the formula is free of harsh surfactants.

  • TDR Original review: Aug 03, 2020. Reply

    EltaMD Lotion
    If you are looking for a little moisturizing that goes a long way, EltaMD Lotion is your answer. Formulated for dry and itchy skin, a small amount is all it takes to help your skin become silky-soft almost immediately. To get the best from this long-lasting therapeutic lotion which is well-known for its moisturizing effects, be sure to apply EltaMD Lotion daily just after a shower or bath. This will help to soothe and strengthen the skin’s protective barrier while rehydrating it in a therapeutic way. EltaMD is known to strengthen skin against damage caused by frequent hand washing, swimming and cold, dry air. It is water-soluble and guards against moisture loss by binding moisture to the keratin in skin cells, keeping the skin cells plump and supple. It’s fragrance free and can be applied on the face too.

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