Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock


Oh, sunscreen. Much like dental floss, you are a doctor-recommended product that will almost certainly improve (or save) my health later in life but totally unappealing to us young folk. I haven't been proud to whip out a bottle of you since Coppertone came out with disappearing purple sunblock when I was in elementary school. Sunblock/screen is for losers! I am woman, hear me roar! I can brave the sun and come out unscathed! Well, actually, that is incredibly untrue.

For most of my life, I've been the palest person in the room. I have some natural color, but it’s mainly reddish undertones because my blood shows through my near-translucent skin. I have a very fair complexion that does not get along well with intense sunlight. As such, I've had to bite the bullet and finally take the advice of one Dr. Sexter (the best pediatrician in DC!), and add some SPF to my daily routine.

In the last few years, I've tried several different facial sunscreens, ranging from drugstore brands to ones recommended or prescribed to me by a dermatologist. But it wasn't until I found Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock that I really had a winner. There is talk about how, past SPF 45, the protection-level number on sunscreen bottles amounts to marketing bullshit (see WebMD*). Fully acknowledging this, I still buy into what they're selling; it can’t hurt to buy the highest SPF available, which seems to be SPF 100+.

And here's what I can tell you: there have been no sunburn sightings since I started slathering 100+ on my face and body! Huzzah! The cream's lightweight and—as the name notes—super dry feel allows it to go virtually undetected in my makeup-application process. No white sheen on your face, no wretched sunblock smell, no worry that it will slowly melt off your skin and find its way into your eyes. Offer me a $200 alternative and all I’ll say to you is, “No, thank you!” Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock, I am yours.

—Elizabeth Brockway

*WebMD is a dangerous website. You almost always discover that you've got some sort of cancer and/or will be dying soon. At least, that's what I’ve found. But I'm a hypochondriac.

Photos by Elizabeth Brockway.

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  • mt

    Yesss! Neutrogena sunblock is the best. Accept no substitutions! Good ol' Neutrogena absorbs readily, never leaves a greasy finish, and is a dream under makeup. Most importantly, it works. I have never been the slightest bit tempted to try the more pricey options offered by some of my favorite luxury brands (Shiseido, etc.). Save the big $$ for glamorous makeup and anti-aging serums.

    • magpie

      Ooh, yes. My mom and I still have epic battles about sunscreen, in which she tries to put pointless, pore-clogging Shiseido goop on my face and I refuse for the sake of beloved Neutrogena in the slim blue-white tube! One of the few mother-daughter product disputes that survived it into the mid-twenties.

  • Emma Starks

    I would love a post on when you should apply sunscreen. Before primer? After? On top of your makeup? As the first thing to touch your face? Is it enough to have SPF 30 in your BB cream, or do you need more? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

    • ITGElizabeth

      Hey Emma!
      I don't have answers to all your questions, BUT as for when I apply my sunblock, I tend to use two creams in the morning before a tinted primer and add the sunblock after the heavier cream and before the lighter one (pre-primer). I find that the sunblock before tinted primer or foundation eliminates any chances you have of that white sheen.

      • Emma Starks

        Thanks! I know I've heard from different makeup/derms in the past that there is an order you're meant to go by, but I never remember what it is!

  • Shara

    Ooh I've been hearing good things about this. Also getting rave reviews: Shiseido sunscreen. I'm using LRP Anthelios and don't really have a complain. Might pick this up when I finish my bottle though.

    Btw, I remember Emily mentioning that she couldn't find a sunscreen she liked? What does she think about this one?

  • Sarah E

    I'm the same way- I can be outside for 15-20 minutes for lunch and get a full on sunburn. I started slathering sunscreen on myself a few years ago out of fear that my now-30-year-old skin would begin to prune. (Plus, I want to look like Lady Mary from Downton Abbey) My favorite face/body sunscreen is the Solar Sense Clear Zinc Lotion for Face and Body. Has green tea and aloe so its actually soothing. It says its SPF 70 only because its Australian and they haven't had to regulate their numbers like we have in the US. But I'll have to try the Neutrogena one once I run out.

  • Pemberley Jones

    I used to use Neutrogena's face sunscreens before I started reading that a lot of the chemicals that are in these products may actually CAUSE cancer (UGH)Chemicals like oxybenzone & retinyl palmitate. (This was a very sad day for me, I loved that Neutrogena!) BUT I have since found great products like DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer. It doesn't leave a white cast, feels great on my skin and I feel confident being outside. It's great! :)

    • Janine

      This. I don't use any products with avobenzone. I read it does something to our hormones. Personally? For my everyday moisturizer with sunscreen, I use a basic Oil of Olay Complete Defense Daily Moisturizer with SPF 30, for sensitive skin. Love it. I read Julianne Moore uses and since her skin is white white, I tried it. I've never looked back.

      For the beach, I use Josie Maran. Love that, too.

      I'm looking into the Elta products.

      • mt

        The American Academy of Dermatologists maintains that oxybenzone, the "questionable" ingredient in many sunscreens, is in fact safe.

        " "Oxybenzone is one of the few FDA-approved ingredients that provides effective broad spectrum protection from UV radiation, and has been approved for use since 1978," said Dr. Daniel M. Siegel, president of the academy."

        Furthermore, the FDA approves oxybenzone sunscreens for all people over 6 months.

        • eastvillagesiren

          Thanks, MT. I used to read and believe, verbatim everything I saw rated on EWG. They have good intentions and are a a fine starting point but I prefer solid research and safety standards as practiced by the EU and Japan. Modern sunscreens produced by large, reputable companies are formulated to be stable and effective, and European companies have to meet safety standards for ingredients and finished products. Read the labels on how best to use the products, do your own research and don't respond just to fear-mongering. Anything can be hazardous; you can die from water intoxication; and 3.5 ml of eucalyptus oil can be fatal yet it can be used, in safe doses, in topical skin care and inhalation.

          As Paracelsus wisely said, "The dose makes the poison."

    • felled

      Potential toxicity aside, it's advisable to avoid retinyl palmitate in sunscreen as it's a retinol alternative (synthetic, according to Wikipedia) and like retinol can make skin more sensitive to the sun. Neutrogena's liquid moisturizer SPF 50 doesn't have retinyl palmitate in it. (Note: make sure it's the liquid moisturizer, a couple of their liquid sunscreens do contain the ingredient.)

  • Tyler Eustice

    My favorite sunscreen is Natura Bisse Luminous Shield SPF 50. I'm very fair and it enhances my pale skin, helps with hyperpigmentation control (I luckily *knock on wood* don't have any since I have cared for my skin since I was in my teens) and is very hydrating.
    I haven't used this Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Dry Touch SPF but one I do like by them is Liquid Sheer.

  • Jennifer Monforton

    Ah, thanks for featuring this! I'm always looking for high-SPF products that won't leave my oily, sensitive skin a red, greasy mess. This sounds promising!


  • Simonetta

    I have to comment on this to say that this is THE BEST sunscreen I've owned. I wore it for Coachella all three days, and it was a miracle that the sun did not burn me whatsoever. Definitely buy this ladies. I usually apply it after my moisturizer and before my foundation.

  • Christine

    I've used Neutrogena's Ultra-Sheer Sunscreen Fluid. I find the lighter texture is much lighter and less greasy than the cream. But it has a very strong sunscreen smell, which I really, really hate! Also, the chemicals in chemical sunscreens cause cancer. As they break down, they cause more free radicals in your skin than if it was exposed to sun alone!

    I use La Roche Posay's Anthelios Mineral sunscreen. It doesn't have any harmful chemicals, it's super light, and lasts all day. Plus, mineral sunscreens don't have that sunscreen smell that I hate. I use the un-tinted stuff because I'm pale enough that you can't really tell the difference. And it actually helps neutralize the red undertones in my skin :)

    • CFH

      I've just started using LRP Anthelios Mineral sunscreen after most of a year with Kiehl's Super Fluid UV Defense SPF 50+. I loved the Kiehl's, and only switched because I wanted mineral protection. I'm basically happy with LRP, but I've noticed some flaky areas on my forehead after applying. Either it's drying or I'm not moisturizing well enough/letting my moisturizer sink in enough before putting it on. Have you or anyone else experienced this?

  • Guest

    Sigh. I had SUCH bad luck with this product.

    I am of mixed race: African/Native American and Irish. My skin tone is somewhere between that of Halle and Beyonce and I always, always, always burn. When I used this Neutrogena sunblock, I got depigmented spots on my face AND I was allergic to one of the chemical sunscreens -- probably the oxybenzone, according to my doctor. To add insult to injury, I also burned and, of course, the product left a whitish cast on my face. Clearing up the problems that this particular product caused cost me $1800 and I consider myself lucky. I thought those depigmented areas would never be normal again. On. My. Face. What a nightmare!

    I'm glad that it worked out for you, but I want to let others know that it is not a Holy Grail product. I'd hate to see anyone else go through what I did.

    • Amy

      HI, I too had a very bad reaction to this sunscreen. My face broke out in alot of very rough patches. My face felt like an allegator skin and was swollen and red. This was after using it for 2 times. I am praying my face will get back to normal soon. Everyone has a different expierence. Hopeing to find a sunscreen that I am not allergic to. Thanks for mentioning that it may be the ingrediant "oxybenzone" . I will be sure to look for that and to be sure my future sunscreen does not have that ingrediant.

  • Claire

    I used to use this as my go to sunscreen until I looked it up in the EWG database and learned about all the chemicals in it.

    It does work very well, but it's got nasty stuff in it. I switched to Elta MD for my daily facial sunscreen (which is fantastic). I'm still using the Neutrogena on my body when I go to the beach, because I have part of a bottle left, but when I finish it I won't buy it again.

  • Alice

    I love Neutrogena for body, but for my face, I swear by Shiseido's "Ultimate Sun Protection Cream+ Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ For Face" - it literally disappears and feels so light that sometimes I don't even realize I'm wearing it. It also mattifies my oily skin all day long.

  • Leslie

    mmm, there are a lot of harsh chemicals in that stuff. my face burns really bad when i use that brand. not as in sunburn--as in chemical burn, ow, my face is burning. you may as well go without sunblock in terms of worrying about cancer... but i am sure it does help with anti-aging / skin protection in that regard! ITG posted a website / list of safer sunblocks a while ago.

  • BG

    I bought the SPF45 about a week ago, and for some reason, on the second day of use, my skin was burning and itching. I'm disappointed because all Neutrogena products I bought before were nice. At least I'm not the only one it happened to, as I see here in the comments....

  • Dipa Begum

    Is the neutrogena sunblock and sunscreen product the samething?

  • Sean Carter

    When it comes to sunscreen for me, I need really great protection from the sun but a little bit more as well. I have found some really great success with natural sunscreen I used this summer.

  • Jules

    Sunblock or sunscreen -- is there a difference other than the spelling?

    • Skin guy

      Sunblock contains physical or inorganic ingredients that physically block the sun (both UVA and UVB) . Often it is a much thicker lotion than a sunscreen. Look for Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide as the main ingredient. This is what we call Physical Sunblock. It usually leaves white cast on the face.

      Sunscreen contains chemicals that absorb UV radiation and reduce the amount that reaches the skin. Many of the chemicals used for SPF such as avobenzone, avobenzene, oxymethylcinnemate.

      This could be helpful

  • dawn francett

    I need HELP! I have Endlessly searching for a sunblock/sunscreen that won't sting your eyes and more importantly won't wipe off with a towel. See my boyfriend and I live in Clearwater, Florida and he is a roofer! Ot is spring and it is already 85° outside. It is dreadfully HOT and he is constantly sweating and wiping his face, head (he is bald too) and body off from all the sweat pouring off of him. I bought him Neutrogena spf 30 Helioplex... I was told it was the best... We have been freaking out about it even more than usual bc we found what may be a cancerous odd shaped brown blotch on the top of his ear!! Please help us!!
    Thanks!-Dawn Francett(

  • Jerryshaw

    It is esantial to put on a good sunblock to avoid sun burns in summer, but which product is best suit your skin and help to prevent from direct sunlight is a question. The great review of Neutrogena Sunblock here help me to choose it and add up in my grocery list. Thanks!


  • Gymnast boy

    Everyone. UVA is the same intensity all the year round. On the darkest dullest day in January, February, you are ageing just as much as in the hottest months of the Summer. UVA blasts through cloud cover and breaks down the Collegan and Elastin fibres when making contact with the skin. That is what causes the skin to sag over time. it is imperative thus that you wear a sunscreen with maximum UVA protection as well as UVB. If you have not heard of an antioxidant called Astaxanthin it is well worth doing some research. No cream or serum can keep you looking young like Sunscreen and a 12mg daily tablet of Astaxanthin can.


Neutrogena Sun Ultra Sheer
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 100+