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Elta MD UV Clear vs UV Daily (The Definitive Guide)

Stroll through the sunscreen aisle of your local beauty store and you’ll face a dizzying number of choices—one of the best brands that always stick out to us, though, is Elta MD.

We’ll be comparing two of their best-sellers side-by-side so you can see which would suit you and your skin the best. Enjoy!

2024 update: EltaMD's sunscreens now have a new look! The formulas haven't changed, but it's worth noting that there might be some packaging variation depending on your preferred retail store.

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EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 vs EltaMD UV Daily SPF 40

As all skincare aficionados know, sunscreen is arguably the most important step in your regimen. Not only does it protect your body’s largest organ from developing harmful skin conditions, but it’s also your skin’s fountain of youth. Thus, finding the best sunscreen for your skin is fundamental.

Two of the best sunscreens from a brand that’s been in the sunscreen game for a particularly long time are the EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 and EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40.

While these skincare superstars ultimately serve the same purpose, let's just say that one does a bit more heavy lifting for those that need it. Below, we’ll give you the rundown on both.

At first glance, it may appear that we’re comparing apples to apples—both are produced by the same company, and they’re formulated with skincare MVPs hyaluronic acid and Vitamin E to provide ample hydration. Also, we’d be remiss to not shout out their mighty mineral ingredient, 9% zinc oxide, which actively works to reflect and scatter UVA and UVB rays.

Moreover, if you’re looking for a sunscreen that’s vegan, non-comedogenic, and fragrance-free, both formulas check those boxes. However, neither sunscreen appears to be reef-safe, and according to, EltaMD is not a cruelty-free brand.

So, what are the major differences between the two?

EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 provides slightly more sun protection (SPF 46 vs 40—so, 97.8% UV ray absorption versus 97.5%) and is best for acne-prone skin or dermal conditions like rosacea. It contains niacinamide for reducing redness, remedying dryness, and brightening the skin’s appearance (see: treating hyperpigmentation and dark spots). And lastly, a nod to lactic acid, which gently exfoliates.

On the other hand, EltaMD UV Daily SPF 40 boasts a more straightforward, moisturizing ingredient list, making this sunscreen most ideal for normal and combination skin. And unlike the EltaMD UV Clear formula, EltaMD UV Daily isn’t oil-free.

In regard to cost, EltaMD UV Daily will save you some coins at $32.50 for a 1.7oz bottle, while EltaMD UV Clear costs $39.

We love that EltaMD makes sunscreens for different skin needs. Both EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 and EltaMD UV Daily Board-Spectrum SPF 40 protect your dermis from short- and long-term sun damage, plus they contain ingredients that improve the overall look of your skin.

What’s more is that EltaMD’s dedication to skincare goes even further than sunscreen—they also sponsor free mobile skin screenings and work alongside non-profits like Angel Faces, which offers support to burn trauma victims. In terms of diversity and inclusion, EltaMD has partnered with the Skin of Color Society, which specializes in dermatological research for skin of color and sponsors a mentorship program for those entering the dermatology field.

Additionally, they’re working to eliminate plastic waste by 2025 by replacing it with 100% recyclable packaging.

Though there are significant pros and cons regarding EltaMD’s business ethics, they’ve racked up thousands of positive reviews and numerous accolades. While no company is perfect, we’ve got our fingers crossed that all their products will one day be cruelty-free and reef-safe!

UV Clear Facial Sunscreen SPF 46 by Elta MD, calms and protects acne-prone skin.

UV Clear Facial Sunscreen SPF 46 by Elta MD

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

Calms and protects acne-prone skin.

What makes it special? Oil-free EltaMD UV Clear helps calm and protect sensitive skin types prone to discoloration and breakouts associated to acne and rosacea. It contains niacinamide (vitamin B3), hyaluronic acid and lactic acid, ingredients that promote the appearance of healthy-looking skin. Very lightweight and silky, it may be worn with makeup or alone. Choose from tinted and untinted formulas for use every day.

Which skin types? Skin types prone to acne, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation.

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UV Daily Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40 by Elta MD, sheer and lightweight sun protection.

UV Daily Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40 by Elta MD

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

Sheer and lightweight sun protection.

What makes it special? EltaMD UV Daily has hyaluronic acid to boost moisture retention and diminish fine lines. This lightweight moisturizer with UV protection can be worn alone or under makeup. Choose from tinted and untinted formulas for use every day.

Which skin types? Combination/Normal skin types.

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Other Elta MD Best-Sellers

For tinted coverage:
Try the Tinted Face Sunscreen

For outdoor activity:
Try the UV Sport Sunscreen

For a full routine:
Try the Complete Skin & Sun Kit

This article was originally published on August 11th 2022, but it has been reviewed and updated with the latest available information on February 12th 2024 by Sara Mckay, MA.

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