Stroll through the sunscreen aisle of your local beauty store and you’ll face a dizzying number of choices—two of the best brands that always stick out to us, though, are Elta MD and La Roche Posay.
We’ll be comparing their best-sellers side-by-side so you can see which would suit you and your skin the best. Enjoy!
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Elta MD vs La Roche Posay Sunscreen
If there is one skincare product that you must have all year round—especially in the summer—it’s sunscreen. SPF should be a part of your everyday skincare routine to protect the sensitive skin of your face from harmful UV rays.
Elta MD offers a host of incredibly popular facial sunscreens, however, our pick of the bunch is the best-selling Elta MD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen, as it is by far their most popular. Arguably just as popular is the La Roche Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Sunscreen, which we will be comparing today.
2024 update: EltaMD's sunscreen now has a new look! The formula hasn't changed, but it's worth noting that there might be some packaging variation depending on your preferred retail store.
Returning to the comparison, let's begin with the similarities:
- They both offer clinically proven broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection.
- They both offer water & sweat resistance for up to 80 minutes.
- They both offer a lightweight, non-greasy feel.
- They are both chemical sunscreens.
- They are both facial sunscreens.
- They are both free from oxybenzone and octinoxate.
Expanding on the point regarding both offering broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection, both sunscreens actually contain the exact same active ingredients for sun protection, varying only slightly in concentration.
To be specific, they contain: Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, and Octocrylene. They both also contain Vitamin E which provides extra protection against acute UVB damage, and protects against cell mutation caused by sun exposure.
So far into the comparison it seems like there is nothing to differentiate them, but their differences become obvious upon inspection of the inactive ingredients lists.
The Elta MD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen contains Niacinamide, Hyaluronic Acid, and Lactic Acid—all of which promote the appearance of healthy-looking skin on their own, but more specifically as a trio they actively help to calm, treat, and protect sensitive, acne-prone and rosacea-prone skin types.
The La Roche Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Sunscreen is targeted more specifically towards *oily* skin types. Containing Perlite and Silica, it is able to absorb a significant amount of oil from the skin, providing a silky feel and a soft-focus matte effect. Furthermore, it also contains La Roche Posay's signature, soothing Thermal Spring Water and Senna Alata for their natural protective, antioxidant properties.
With it being a genuine struggle to find any real negative feedback about them anywhere online, it's incredibly difficult to separate the two. One potential deciding factor, though, is that the La Roche Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Sunscreen is around 2/3 the price of Elta MD's per fluid ounce.
Clearly both sunscreens are a cross between skin care and sun protection, so this does mean that your skin type will play a large role in deciding which is best for you.
If you have oily skin you will be best served with the La Roche Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Sunscreen for its oil-absorbing, mattifying qualities.
If you struggle more with problematic (i.e. acne-prone/ rosacea-prone), sensitive skin, then Elta MD's UV Clear Sunscreen is the one for you.
UV Clear Facial Sunscreen SPF 46 by Elta MD
Our rating: ★★★★★
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.
Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen by La Roche Posay
Our rating: ★★★★★
La Roche Posay's best oil-free sunscreen for acne-prone skin.
What makes it special? This oil free sunscreen provides advanced protection while absorbing pore-clogging oil, even in heat and humidity. La Roche Posay's best sunscreen for acne prone skin is formulated with Cell-Ox Shield technology: broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection with antioxidants.
Which skin types? For oily, acne-prone skin types.
Elta MD Best-Sellers
La Roche Posay Best-Sellers
Work in progress
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This article was originally published on May 26th 2022, but it has been reviewed and updated with the latest available information on February 6th 2024 by Sara Mckay, MA.
Calum Torrington is the founder of FemmeNordic. He has worked as a beauty editor since 2020 and employs his analytical background in mathematics to thoroughly scrutinize complex INCI lists. Now, he helps over 1 million people per year to find the best beauty products.