Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Liquid Sunblock Review

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Sunscreen, Sunblock, Review
While it would be ideal to have your daily sunscreen included in your morning lotion (can’t forget, and can’t use an excuse to skip a day)… The truth is that it isn’t always possible. Most moisturizers don’t include sunscreens. Those that do might not work well for you, might not have broad spectrum coverage or may just not have a high enough SPF. That’s when it’s better to add a second sunscreen product.

I think that I’m likely not alone in the way I view this product. When it was released there was a lot of talk about it on-line. Would it be light enough to wear daily under makeup? It’s broad spectrum, high SPF (yes, higher than the SPF 30 many derms recommend for daily use, but that gives you a bit of leeway if you apply it too light one day), and many women just love the Neutrogena brand. (Yes, I’m one of them.)

So, did it live up to the expectations?

Yes, I think it did. The sunscreen is pretty lightweight, and it took a bit to get used to applying it because it is a bit watery as it comes out of the bottle. It spreads easily and rubs in completely pretty easily. I gave it a minute or two to settle fully into my skin before applying makeup over it. I found that it didn’t interfere with application and that I couldn’t tell it was on after a few minutes. This summer my skin has been a bit more acne prone than usual, but this sunscreen didn’t seem to cause any break outs.

Definitely worth checking out if you’re looking to increase your daily UV protection.

This product line features Helioplex, which basically means they have formulated the product to have the Avobenzone (which is known to be finicky) to be very photostable.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Sunblock



  1. Anonymous
    July 8, 2010 / 2:45 am

    My skin is very dry and I battle redness. Every summer when I start using sunscreen on my face, no matter what kind.. My skin breaks out badly (it's ugly) until it adjusts to the sunscreen. It's worth it though. I believe in sunscreen so much for the face- I'm on it.

  2. July 8, 2010 / 4:50 am

    Have you tried Shiseido SPF 55 lotion (the one that was discontinued) or its replacement, Shiseido SPF 38 lotion? I was wondering if you could compare them. I want to like Neutrogena, but their sunscreens tend to break me out. I haven't had any problems with my Shiseido, but it's spendy and it sounds like the formulation of Neutrogena's new liquid sunblock might be similar to Shiseidos.

  3. July 8, 2010 / 4:54 am

    Thanks for sharing. I'm looking for sunscreen. 🙂

  4. Anonymous
    July 8, 2010 / 5:20 am

    hi. i just had a question about daily moisturizers with spf…i've heard that the spf is only active for a couple hours. if so, how do you deal with re-protecting yourself without scrapping your makeup and starting from scratch? another sun-related question…if a tan is a sign of damage to skin cells how are self-tanners not damaging to skin? sorry if i missed the science boat on these issues! i love your blog for all the technical info & everyday expertise!

  5. July 8, 2010 / 12:28 pm

    Anon #1- You might want to consider trying a physical sunscreen since they've caused so many problems for you in the past. Since the components don't absorb into the skin, those with skin conditions usually do better with a physical sunscreen. As well, I wonder if you might need to visit a derm and ask if you might have Rosacae. The way you describe your redness and dryness as well as how prone you are to breakouts reminds me of that.

    Marilyn- I keep almost buying the Shiseido product, but then realize I have about 20 sunscreens in my office that I still need to use and I shouldn't be spending that much on a sunscreen when I have so many others! LOL I'm hoping it shows up as a free sample sometime at Sephora.

    Anon #2-
    Here are a few answers:
    1) It's true, most sunscreens are only active for a few hours of active UV exposure. The thing that makes most of them break down is the UV exposure. So, when I'm in the sun for long periods of time (eg- beach, pool, etc) I do what most dermatologists recommend and reapply my sunscreen every 2 hours. In those instances I'm not wearing as much makeup as I'd be wearing for work anyways, so I don't mind reapplying and haven't really noticed that it's caused an issue with any concealer I might be wearing.

    For normal every day use I wear a daily SPF either separate or in my lotion, and then apply makeup over this. My job is inside, and since the only sun exposure I get then is basically walking to and from the car (and my car is in a garage at work) or while driving, I don't consider it enough exposure to bother reapplying. If you did want to reapply a sunscreen I think it would be some trial and error to figure out how much makeup you could be wearing and reapply a full sunscreen over it. Another option is a product like Skindavia's Summer Moisturizer, which is a spray meant to refresh your makeup. It also happens to have SPF 8. I'm not certain how much needs to be applied to reach the standard 2 mg/cm2 of skin, but it would at least be something.

    2) The difference in damage for a sunless tanner is how the color is produced. With a "natural" tan, the color change you see is your skin fighting to protect itself from the UV exposure. The skin gets damaged, it turns on its melanocytes to make more melanin, you see a tan. A "Base" tan has been found to be only SPF 3-4 by the way, so ignore the tanning industry's claims about how healthy it is.

    A sunless tanner by contrast is a chemical reaction. The active ingredient in almost all sunless tanners is DHA, which penetrates down into your epidermis (the very outer layer of your skin), and there's a reaction with some chemicals in the out layers. The reactions create what is known as a "melanoidin", a by product with a color similar to your own melatonin. It's worth noting that the cells this takes place in (the stratum corneum) are actually dead cells, and they'll be sloughed off over the next few days. Hence, why sunless tanner only lasts a few days. Derm TV has a great little video that explains this more indepth if you want to check it out. 😀

  6. Anonymous
    July 8, 2010 / 2:25 pm

    Great article, thanks for the info!!

  7. Anonymous
    July 19, 2010 / 5:17 pm

    Hi, I've recently bought the
    Neutrogena Ultra Sheer® Liquid Sunblock and absolutely LOVE it.

    Is it okay if I wash my face, apply the Ultra Sheer and then just apply my powder foundation, without any moisturizer? Especially in the summer, when it's humid. I've been doing that for a few weeks and my skin seems fine, not dry or oily.

    But – am I damaging my skin if I don't use moisturizer too?

  8. July 20, 2010 / 1:10 pm

    I don't think you're damaging your skin at all if you're skipping the moisturizer. I've heard that "everyone needs a moisturizer", but I'm not sure that it is really going to matter in the long run if you go without moisturizer for a few weeks! I'd just pay attention to my skin and see what it's telling me. If you start to feel tight or flaky, add it back in. If you're worried about skipping it, maybe make sure you apply moisturizer at night?

  9. - B
    July 23, 2010 / 6:23 pm

    Reapplying sunscreen later on in the day, whilst wearing makeup, is such a challenge. Has anyone tried the powder sunscreens to touch up?
    Lisa Eldridge on youtube mentioned the Peter Thomas Roth one, that is talc-free, and can be brushed on. I feel so disappointed in myself, I only considered/started worrying about sun protection once I hit my late 20's.

  10. July 23, 2010 / 6:46 pm

    I don't really recommend the powder sunscreens. In order to reach the SPF value stated on any sunscreen products, you need to reach the "standard" SPF testing concentration of 2 mg/cm2 of skin area. In order to reach this with a powder sunscreen you need to use 2 grams of powder, with is 14x the typical amount used (even with fairly heavy application). With most products, this is a pretty good proportion of the container. That means you're probably not going to even hit a SPF of 3 or 4 with these products, and at that point I'd argue that you're wasting your money.

    I think the important thing to realize is that the reason the sunscreen needs to be reapplied is because it becomes inactivated over time, but a very large proportion of the inactivation is due to sun exposure. (Because the sunscreen is doing it's job.) While we're told to reapply every 2 hours, this really mostly is the case if you're out in the sun. If you're inside, I wouldn't worry about it.

    If you're outside, and the sun is more of an issue, you need to find the right balance of makeup (lighter the better) to sunscreen, and I really recommend using an actual sunscreen.

    I'd go for a lighter formula, and one that has a high SPF around 50+. Not because you need that much SPF, but because then you have more "wiggle room" and if you don't apply enough, then c'est la vie, you're probably at least SPF 30 anyways. The sunscreens that work well under sunscreens are the best option for this. So, I'd go with this Neutrogena Ultra Sheer, the La Roche Posay Anthelios or Kiehl's Super Fluid UV Defense. All 3 fit the requirements pretty easily.

    I've applied all three of these over my makeup with no real problems. Note that when I apply I concentrate a lot on my nose, cheeks and forehead, then spread out carefully. I'm very careful under the eyes, and on occassion have had to reapply my concealer a bit. I avoid my eyelids, leaving my eye makeup in place. I don't wear powder blush on days I need to do this, instead I use cream blush. As well, this summer I'm wearing a very light foundation, Neutrogena's Healthy Skin Enhancer.

    Hope that helps!

  11. B
    August 2, 2010 / 5:32 am

    That's really useful info, makes sense. Thanks a lot, saved me from buying a needless product.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *