Is Neutrogena Sunscreen Good Or Bad For You? We Find Out

Neutrogena sunscreen

Neutrogena Sunscreen is a product of Neutrogena Corporation, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. It is used to protect the skin from sunburn, sun-induced premature aging, and the risk of skin cancer. The product is sold in 70 countries.

Neutrogena Sunscreen is available in different variants –

  • Adult Sunscreen
  • Baby & Kids Sunscreen
  • Mineral Sunscreen
  • Facial Sunscreen
  • Sunless Tanning

The products are offered in various forms, such as lotions, sprays, sticks, mist, and serums.

Is Neutrogena Sunscreen mineral or chemical?

The answer is both. Some products of Neutrogena Sunscreen are mineral, while others are chemical.

Mineral sunscreen – also known as physical sunscreen – remains on top of the skin, protecting it from harmful ultraviolet radiation. On the contrary, chemical sunscreen is absorbed into the skin. It converts the sun’s rays into heat and releases them from the skin.

Neutrogena Sunscreen Ingredients

The ingredients differ for mineral and chemical sunscreens.

Mineral sunscreen consists of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, or both. On the other hand, a chemical sunscreen contains one or more of these ingredients – oxybenzone, avobenzone, octocrylene, octinoxate, homosalate, and octisalate.

Furthermore, the composition of Neutrogena sunscreens also varies depending on the product range. Some of the common ingredients are water, glycerin, alkyl benzoate, crosspolymer, synthetic polymers, magnesium sulfate, alcohol, synthetic wax, caprylyl glycol, silica, aluminum hydroxide, and sodium chloride.

Does Neutrogena Sunscreen have a fragrance?

Neutrogena sunscreen products come in both fragrance and fragrance-free varieties.

It is tough to say if the aromatic products pass the smell test. Fragrances can be pleasant and create an emotional connection with the product. However, Neutrogena seldom divulges the exact ingredients used to create the fragrance.

Yet, it is known that such ingredients are usually sourced from petroleum or natural materials. They are shown to even include toxic chemicals like acetaldehyde and benzophenone.

Research has demonstrated that fragrance ingredients cause serious health problems. A study by the International Fragrance Association has evidence showing that these ingredients are linked to health effects like cancer, allergies, reproductive toxicity, and sensitivities.

Does Neutrogena Sunscreen have benzene?

Most Neutrogena Sunscreen products contain benzene in different forms and combinations. In May 2021, a pharmaceutical testing company called Valisure detected benzene in some Neutrogena sunscreen products. Consequently, in July 2021, four Neutrogena sunscreen products were voluntarily recalled by Johnson & Johnson on the back of ‘an abundance of caution.’

The short-term use of products with a low composition of benzene will not result in serious harm. However, people using sunscreens regularly – most often every day – is a cause for concern.

Benzene is a carcinogen associated with blood cancer and other diseases. Even low exposure to it could cause dermatitis. According to a thesis published by the National Center of Biotechnology Information, even at existing levels of benzene usage – which is less than 0.1 percent in most products – the amount of benzene absorbed by the skin over prolonged periods can increase the risk of leukemia by 42 percent.

It is therefore important to reconsider the frequent use of chemical sunscreen products.

Does Neutrogena Sunscreen have oxybenzone?

Certainly! Quite a few Neutrogena sunscreen products contain oxybenzone – a pale-yellow organic compound that is easily soluble in most organic solvents. The compound blocks the absorption of ultraviolet radiation by the human skin.

Oxybenzone is found to be sabotaging humans as well as the environment. In 2008, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) had suggested the FDA examine the safety of the use of oxybenzone in sunscreen on the back of testimonies that it impacts hormone levels, reproduction, and development.

The studies by EWG and FDA showed that oxybenzone is allergenic as well carcinogenic. Traces of the compound were also found in human breast milk, urine, blood, and amniotic fluid. It is found to cause more harm in children, yet some Neutrogena sunscreens for children contain the nasty compound.

Additionally, oxybenzone is also wrecking marine life. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), oxybenzone in the sunscreen is causing coral damage, reproductive problems in fish, accumulation in the tissue of dolphins, and harm to sea urchins. Oxybenzone enters ocean waters through swimmers and surfers who have sunscreen on their skin. It also gets into the sea through urine and residue in baths that flow from wastewater systems.

It is important to protect your skin from ultraviolet radiation – however, not at the cost of your wellbeing and ecological balance. It is safe to avoid chemical sunscreens and use mineral sunscreens instead.

Does Neutrogena Sunscreen have zinc oxide?

Yes, all mineral sunscreens of Neutrogena contain zinc oxide as an active ingredient. The inorganic mineral protects the skin from ultraviolet radiation by scattering the sun’s rays. It is considered a safe ingredient by the FDA and dermatologists alike.

While serious allergic reactions to zinc oxide are uncommon, they may cause skin dryness. It may also damage human cells when exposed to sunlight for long hours. Sunscreens with zinc oxide are usually heavy, making it difficult for the skin to absorb them well. In the case of children and babies, the mineral is considered safe – even if they happen to lick a bit of it.

Does Neutrogena Sunscreen have parabens?

Many Neutrogena Sunscreen products contain paraben in original and long-chain forms such as ethylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben. Paraben is a chemical that is used for longer shelf life.

The chemical can cause skin allergies such as itching, blisters, dryness, inflammation, and burning. It can also lead to faster aging of the skin. Paraben is found to cause cellular damage due to ultraviolet exposure and further result in skin cancer.

Further, EWG and the UN Environment Program have found parabens to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Owing to this attribute, the chemical can disturb hormonal balance in the body, cause fertility and birth issues, and affect reproductive organs.

Experts are of the opinion that paraben is not a vital ingredient in sunscreen products. So, study the ingredient list of sunscreens carefully while you pick them up to steer clear of parabens.

Does Neutrogena Sunscreen have iron oxide?

Neutrogena Sunscreen does not contain iron oxide. Neutrogena mineral sunscreens include zinc oxide or titanium dioxide or both.

Iron oxide is a naturally occurring mineral that is safe and non-toxic on the skin. However, it is not an approved sunscreen ingredient by the FDA.

Does Neutrogena Sunscreen have silicone?

No, Neutrogena sunscreens do not contain silicone. They however have silica. Silicone and silica both are made of silicon atoms. However, silicone is an element while silica is a compound.

Silica is considered to be safe for topical use. It encourages collagen production and improves the appearance of your skin. Studies have shown that silica repairs sun-damaged skin and enhance skin texture.

Does Neutrogena Sunscreen have alcohol?

Most Neutrogena sunscreens contain alcohol in the form of alcohol denat. It is denatured alcohol that contains a mix of chemicals to make the alcohol volatile so that thick creamy sunscreens feel light and absorb easily into the skin.

Alcohol denat is not harmful when used sparsely. Regular and heavy usage of it can cause skin dryness and irritation. It could also mess up the skin’s natural barriers that prevent toxins from entering the skin. This can lead to overproduction of oil and clogging of pores. Additionally, alcohol denat prevents precursors of vitamin A from getting converted to vitamin A acid – leaving the skin vitamin A deficient. 

Is Neutrogena Sunscreen safe?

In the year 2015, EWG had stated in its guide to sunscreen that Neutrogena is the number one sunscreen to avoid, and it is the number one culprit for toxicity and false advertising. Why did EWG say so? What makes Neutrogena sunscreen unsafe?

The company’s sunscreens contain harmful chemicals like methylisothiazolinone and oxybenzone. Methylisothiazolinone can cause skin irritation and chemical burns. According to EWG, 80 percent of Neutrogena sunscreens have oxybenzone, the hormone-disrupting compound.

EWG has also indicated that other sunscreen ingredients like avobenzone, homosalate, cinoxate, octinoxate, octisalate, meradimate, dioxybenzone, and sulisobenzone are as dangerous as oxybenzone. Dismally, Neutrogena sunscreens contain many of these ingredients along with oxybenzone.

Further, 33 percent of Neutrogena sunscreens contain retinyl palmitate, which is a type of vitamin A and is found to increase the risk of cancer when used in high doses. An investigation by the US government also reveals that retinyl palmitate stimulates the development of skin tumors and lesions when used on the skin during sunlight.

Another ingredient that is bothersome is a synthetic polymer – it is known to cause skin dryness, rash, and blisters. Aluminum hydroxide is another nasty ingredient, which can be very toxic and lead to seizures, osteomalacia, and kidney issues if used in high doses.

While Neutrogena has declared that its ingredients list is not comprehensive, it has also warned that you should curtail your time in the sun when you have applied its sunscreens. It also advises you to use fully covered clothing, pants, hats, and sunglasses! Well, that’s paradoxical, isn’t it?

Can Neutrogena Sunscreen cause cancer?

While Neutrogena advocates the use of sunscreen to prevent skin cancer from exposure to ultraviolet radiation, many of its ingredients are found to be carcinogenic.

  • Fragrance ingredients – the composition of which is not disclosed are shown to cause cancer
  • Benzene – even if present in small doses can cause blood cancer
  • Oxybenzone, avobenzone, octocrylene, octinoxate, homosalate, octisalate – can cause skin cancer in the long term
  • Paraben – causes cellular damage and results in cancer
  • Retinyl palmitate – increases the risk of cancer and stimulates the development of skin tumors

Can Neutrogena Sunscreen cause acne?

There are no serious reports of acne caused by Neutrogena sunscreens. However, the fragrance ingredients and alcohol could cause acne if your skin is sensitive to them. In such a case, use fragrance-free and alcohol-free Neutrogena sunscreens.

Can Neutrogena Sunscreen cause rash?

Heavy and long-term use of some of the ingredients present in Neutrogena sunscreen – like Oxybenzone, avobenzone, parabens, fragrance ingredients, synthetic polymers, silica, and alcohol can cause skin dryness, blisters, and rashes.

Can you put Neutrogena Sunscreen on your face?

Yes, you can use Neutrogena sunscreens on your face for protection from ultraviolet radiation. However, be careful to not allow the cream to get into your eyes during application. Also, do not apply sunscreen on damaged skin.

If you are using the mist or spray variant on your face, hold the nozzle close to your skin. Avoid the spray from getting into your eyes and do not inhale the spray. Also, do not use the spray sunscreen near an open flame or while smoking.

Can you use Neutrogena Sunscreen while pregnant?

Although it has been thought safe to use Neutrogena Sunscreen while pregnant, use it at your discretion.

From our analysis, avoiding Neutrogena sunscreens or sticking to just the mineral variants may be safer if you are pregnant. We say so because –

  • 80 percent of Neutrogena sunscreens contain oxybenzone, the hormone-disrupting compound. Traces of oxybenzone have been found in human breast milk and amniotic fluid. The compound impacts hormone levels, reproduction, and development. It is also found to alter birth weight.
  • Fragrance ingredients are shown to cause reproductive toxicity.
  • Parabens – the endocrine-disrupting chemicals that disturb hormonal balance and affect reproductive organs.

Can you use Neutrogena Sunscreen on babies?

Neutrogena has a dedicated line of sunscreens for babies and children. However, the company has instructed on its website that its products for babies less than six months of age be used with doctors’ advice.

While some baby products are free of parabens, alcohol, oxybenzone, fragrance, and other harsh chemicals, some of them contain toxic and harsh chemicals like oxybenzone, homosalate, octisalate, avobenzone, alcohol denat, retinyl palmitate, paraffin, and polymers. Examine the ingredient list and choose the safe product for your baby.

In addition, exercise utmost care if you are using the spray variant. If the spray accidentally gets into your baby’s eyes, it could cause irritation and burning – and also damage the eyes. Inhalation of the spray could lead to allergies, asthma, and brain damage in babies. Furthermore, babies could develop stomach upset and vomiting – even get intoxicated – if the spray sunscreen enters the mouth.

Can you use Neutrogena Sunscreen on dogs?

Just like humans, dogs need sunscreen for protection from sunburn. However, it is not a sensible choice to use Neutrogena or any other sunscreen meant for humans on dogs. Zinc oxide and other chemicals in human sunscreens could be ingested by the dog when it licks its skin, causing complications.

Use pet-friendly products and sunscreens specially formulated for dogs.

Is Neutrogena Sunscreen good for dry skin?

Neutrogena Sunscreen does not rate high on the list of sunscreens good for dry skin. This is probably because zinc oxide, parabens, polymers, and alcohol present in most Neutrogena sunscreens are shown to cause skin dryness.

Examine the ingredients and choose the Neutrogena sunscreen product that is specifically formulated for dry skin. Hydro Boost variants could suit you if you have dry skin.

Is Neutrogena Sunscreen good for sensitive skin?

Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 60+ and a few Ultra Sheer variants are specifically designed for sensitive skin.

Other variants may contain harsh chemicals that can cause skin dryness, rash, blisters, and irritation. So, if you have sensitive skin – check out the ingredients list before picking your sunscreen.

Is Neutrogena Sunscreen good for acne-prone skin?

The presence of fragrance ingredients and alcohol in many Neutrogena sunscreens can cause clogging of pores and trigger breakouts. If your skin is prone to acne, choose a Neutrogena sunscreen that is fragrance and alcohol-free. Dermatologists recommend mineral sunscreens for acne-prone skin.

Is Neutrogena Sunscreen good for combination skin?

For combination skin, chemical sunscreens with oxybenzone, avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene as active ingredients can cause acne. Therefore, if you have combination skin, choose a mineral sunscreen variant that is free of harsh chemicals, parabens, fragrance, and alcohol.

Is Neutrogena Sunscreen good for dark skin?

Neutrogena sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) can be good for dark skin and to avoid dark spots. Also, mineral-based products with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide protect the skin from discoloration and dark spots.

Is Neutrogena Sunscreen good for rosacea?

Sun is the main cause of rosacea trigger. Therefore, if you are prone to rosacea, it is important to use sunscreen when you go outdoors.

A mineral sunscreen would be more useful for rosacea. Neutrogena SheerZinc Face Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 50 is rated high to protect your skin from ultraviolet radiation and rosacea.

Does Neutrogena Sunscreen expire?

Some Neutrogena sunscreen tubes indicate the expiry date and batch number. If there is no indication, you could use the product for three years. Alternatively, you can contact the company and seek help by providing the product name, UPC code, and batch code.

How long does Neutrogena Sunscreen last?

The Neutrogena website provides information on how long every product will last on your skin. The products usually last for about two hours. If you are swimming or sweating, it could last for about 80 minutes. The company recommends reapplication after towel drying.

Can Neutrogena Sunscreen be used as a moisturizer?

Moisturizers are used to protect the skin from cold and dry air besides help the skin to rehydrate. Some chemical ingredients and even zinc oxide in Neutrogena sunscreens are known to cause skin dryness. Therefore, Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost variants with water-resistant lotion may be better options for keeping your skin moisturized and hydrated.

Does Neutrogena Sunscreen darken the skin?

Neutrogena sunscreens with hormonally active ingredients like oxybenzone can cause hormonal skin darkening. Harsh components in chemical sunscreens can also lead to hyperpigmentation, resulting in dark spots on the skin.


Anand Srinivasan
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