Elta MD Review



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.


1Carrot & Stick Review
-Elta MD


What’s Inside Elta MD Skincare?

Here’s a closer look at the active ingredients commonly used in Elta MD skincare products. 

Zinc Oxide
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. 

We recommend Carrot & Stick The Mineral Sunscreen. Formulated with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to protect skin against the harmful effects of UVA and UVB which can hasten the effects of skin aging, it also contains natural hydrators and antioxidants including vitamin E, green tea extract, and Hawaiian kukui nut oil to keep skin nourished and smooth.

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 provides some protection against UVA rays, it does not protect against the entire range of UVA wavelengths. 

Many Elta MD products also contain 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, and wrinkling.

Niacinamide is able to provide all of these benefits because it’s a potent antioxidant. 

Antioxidants protect skin from free radicals, the unstable molecules that can attack important cellular components — such as DNA, cell membranes, and proteins like collagen — causing damage. This damage is known as “oxidative stress” and over time this stress can lead to signs of aging, such as fine lines, wrinkles, and discoloration. 

Niacinamide is the star ingredient in Carrot & Stick The Repair Serum along with seven plant-based neuropeptides and soothing, brightening botanicals to promote a youthful glow. 

Sodium Hyaluronate
Sodium hyaluronate, the salt form of hyaluronic acid, is used throughout the Elta MD skincare line. 

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. 

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 the spreadability of a product and impart a silky, smooth skin feel. In addition, silicones function as film-forming agents by forming an invisible film on the surface of the skin that helps the skin to retain moisture

However, those with acne-prone skin may want to avoid products with high concentrations of silicones because these ingredients can act as a barrier and trap oil, dirt, and dead skin cells, making acne worse. 

That’s why we recommend Carrot & Stick The Moisturizer. It contains vegetable silicones, a natural alternative to conventional silicones that can irritate skin or cause breakouts. Plus, the formula delivers multi-level hydration thanks to potent plant proteins, vitamins, peptides and amino-collagen, plus a plant-based stem cell extract from hardy alpine roses.

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.

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,,, 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?

If you’re looking for skincare products to address the signs of aging, we recommend Carrot & Stick. Carrot & Stick maximizes the use of powerful ingredients and minimizes the use of superficial ones, resulting in advanced skincare solutions that help promote healthy more youthful-looking skin. We recommend this serum. Followed by this tinted sunscreen

Carrot & Stick routines take the guesswork out of building a skincare routine. We recommend the Day & Night Routine.

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
  • Myo Original review: Dec 12, 2023. Reply

    Elta MD is no longer cruelty free.
    This article was posted in late 2022. Since then, major watchdog organizations (Cruelty Free Kitty, Vegan Foundry, Leaping Bunny, PETA, Choose Cruelty-Freehave and others) re-evaluated Elta MD in 2023 and determined that, like all Colgate Palmolive brands, they *DO* test on animals.

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