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EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 review

This sunscreen protects my skin without the white cast

A bottle of sunscreen sitting on a granite sink countertop with a soap dispenser and container of cotton swabs behind it. Credit: Reviewed / Jessica Kasparian

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  1. Product image of EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

    EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

Mineral sunscreen, i.e., zinc oxide-containing SPF, is notorious for being difficult to rub in and leaving a ghostly white film on the skin. But it’s also your best bet if you’re heading on a tropical vacation where only reef-safe sunscreens are permissible or if you’re concerned about the potentially harmful health effects of ingredients like octocrylene in your formula.

All this is to say: As Reviewed’s beauty editor, I’ve personally been on the hunt for a mineral (a.k.a. physical) sunscreen that will blend well into my skin without leaving behind a tacky residue. My search led me to one reviewer-beloved option: EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46.

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What is the EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46?

EltaMD is a skincare brand that’s known for and specifically focuses on its sunscreen formulas. The $39 UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 is its most popular formula with more than 27,000 reviews and a 4.7-star rating on Amazon. It contains niacinamide to reduce redness and soothe damaged skin, hyaluronic acid to retain hydration, lactic acid to gently exfoliate, and vitamin E to prevent the skin-aging effects caused by free radicals. Most important: It contains zinc oxide to protect against the sun’s skin-aging UVA and sunburn-causing UVB rays. The brand claims that the formula is suitable for all skin types, including those with sensitive skin, acne, or rosacea.

What I like about the EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

The author's hand in three side by side by side images showing a white cream being rubbed in.
Credit: Reviewed / Jessica Kasparian

The Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 dispenses as a white cream and is blend to rub into the skin.

It leaves zero white cast (really!)

The sunscreen dispenses as a white cream that’s neither runny nor gloppy. As I spread it outward on my face, I can see the sheer white pigment, but it turns translucent with just a few seconds of blending it into my skin. Unlike other zinc-based SPFs I’ve tried, the cream glides well across my skin with no elbow grease needed for an undetectable finish. Before it’s fully absorbed, the sunscreen is tacky to the touch, but that dissipates once it’s absorbed. And when I say the final result is undetectable, I mean it: The sunscreen has zero white cast and doesn’t look shiny or powdery. It’s matte without giving the skin a dull appearance.

It doesn’t feel greasy

I also love that it doesn’t make my skin look or feel greasy—something I’ll appreciate even more as the weather gets warmer and I sweat more. (It gives me an icky feeling just thinking of greasy sunscreen and a sweaty face.)

It reapplies just as beautifully

I’ll admit: I don’t reapply my facial SPF on a daily basis, though I know I should. I often follow up with makeup that makes it impossible to reapply a cream formula like this one without redoing my whole face. (I’d need a setting spray with SPF instead.) But knowing I was reviewing this, I gave reapplication a whirl a few hours after the initial one and saw the exact same results: an easy application process and natural-looking finish.

I’ve tried several mineral sunscreens and this is the best one I’ve used. Despite the positive reviews, I was sure I wouldn’t like this any more than the others. I’m happy to be wrong. The application is easy thanks to the pump bottle, creamy texture, and sheer white formula that turns clear.

What I dislike about the EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

A person smiling at the camera while applying a white cream to their face.
Credit: EltaMD

The Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 reapplies easily for protection throughout the day.

It isn’t as moisturizing as I’d hoped

My only qualm with this sunscreen is that it doesn’t feel as moisturizing on my skin as I predicted it might, knowing that it includes hydrating hyaluronic acid and moisturizing vitamin E. I typically apply the sunscreen after using the Skinceuticals C E Ferulic without any moisturizer in between and the pair suffices on non-makeup days. But if I plan to wear makeup, this SPF causes my foundation to look drier than normal. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed by using a glowy primer, like the Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter, but it’s an extra step.

Should you try the EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46?

Someone applying sunscreen to the top of someone else's hand.
Credit: EltaMD

The Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 protects the skin using zinc oxide.

Yes, if you’re looking for a mineral sunscreen that blends fully in

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to anyone. If you’ve been on the hunt for a mineral sunscreen, this one is bound to impress you. Its $39 price is hefty for a daily face product, but I’m willing to pay it knowing that it just may be the best I can find out there.

That said, I personally gravitate toward the Supergoop Glow Screen on days I'm wearing makeup because it leaves the skin looking shinier and well-moisturized under foundation. However, that sunscreen is chemical-based, so it doesn’t qualify as “reef-safe” because it contains some of the aforementioned chemicals some people avoid. I noticed that EltaMD makes a “UV Glow” version of its mineral sunscreen, though, which could solve my problem—guess I know what I should test next!

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

  1. Product image of EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

    EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46