Those hot summer days are slowly starting to fade (sadly) but your SPF application should never take any days off! I know that it’s difficult for some people, especially those who are makeup enthusiasts, to get on board with SPF application because it can sometimes be greasy, hard to work with, and leave a white cast. But that is where the new Smoothing Primer Serum SPF 30 from Paula’s Choice comes in!
According to the company’s website; “RESIST Smoothing Primer Serum SPF 30 is a lightweight, silky primer serum that combines broad-spectrum SPF 30 sun protection with a mix of plant-based, soothing antioxidants known to safeguard skin from environmental damage… Prevents premature aging and contains antioxidants green tea, coffee seed, and chamomile to help defend against the visible effects of pollution and environmental attack. This unique formula’s silky serum texture softly blurs fine lines and large pores for a younger-looking, smoother complexion.”
Should this multi-use product be the next thing you add to your cart? Let’s take a look:
I always prefer physical sunscreens, like titanium and zinc oxide, to chemical sunscreens. The reason? Physical sunscreens provide a barrier between UV light and the skin. However, chemical sunscreens allow UV light to hit the skin, but transform it into a non-damaging form of energy, like non-UV light or heat. Between the two, my skin seems to personally do better with physical sunscreens. A benefit to chemical sunscreens is that they do not leave the telltale white cast the way physical sunscreens do. This makes them more appealing and practical for cosmetic enthusiasts, which is why it works in the Paula’s Choice Smoothing Primer Serum SPF 30.
The four chemical sunscreens in the Paula’s Choice Smoothing Primer Serum SPF 30 are Avobenzone 2%, Homosalate 4.0%, Octinoxate 6.0%, and Octisalate 4.0%.
Avobenzone is a very common sunscreen ingredient. It works by taking UV light and converting it into energy that isn’t harmful. It protects moderately well against both UVA and UVB rays but sometimes gets a bad rap because it is unstable when it is used alone and exposed to light (International Journal of Pharmacology). However, when avobenzone is paired with octisalate like it is in this formula, it is more stable! Both are UVB filters; when paired together, they create a broad-spectrum protectant against harmful radiation (JAAD).
Homosalate is actually part of the salicylate family (think of it as a cousin to salicylic acid.) Studies show that it can help limit inflammation, resulting in reduced redness in the skin (European Journal of Pharmacology). It’s also so effective that it is one of the active ingredients in the standard sunscreen formulation the FDA uses to test the SPF of other sunscreens.
Anyone who uses retinol regularly knows that you have to avoid application during the day because it has been found to make the skin photosensitive, or more susceptible to sun damage. Retinyl palmitate (a form of retinol) is no different, although to less of an extent than retinol or other retinoids. However, in 2010, the Environmental Working Group reviewed results from the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and proposed retinyl palmitate in sunscreens may accelerate the risk of skin cancer. At the time, the Environmental Working Group demonstrated rats with tumors treated with retinyl palmitate-based sunscreen products developed skin cancer 11-21% faster than those not treated with retinyl palmitate.
However, the supposed “link” between retinyl palmitate and skin cancer was disproven. An August 2011 review “Safety of retinyl palmitate in sunscreens: A critical study,” was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. In the report, Dr. Steven Q. Wang, M.D., director of dermatologic surgery at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, explains retinyl palmitate is safe and there is no evidence to prove retinyl palmitate increases the risk of skin cancer in humans.
It’s also important to note that retinyl palmitate is about twenty times weaker than retinol. When you consider that retinyl palmitate must be broken down to palmitic acid (a fatty acid) and retinol in the skin, and then retinol must be converted by your skin’s enzymes into tretinoin (the active form of vitamin A), which happens if and only if the right skin conditions are present — well, it’s not very effective, let’s put it that way. So I wouldn’t use this product thinking that you’re going to get some sort of miracle anti-aging benefits the way you do from typical retinol, but it can’t hurt!
That said, the fact that this product has only retinyl palmitate, not retinol, means that you can use it during the daytime. (I usually only use retinoids at night.)
Bottom Line on Paula’s Choice
I think this product works really well! It helped smooth out my pores, and my makeup stayed in place for most of the day. While it does contain SPF, I would NOT recommend this as your only source of daily SPF. I would recommend using this under a good source of makeup with sunscreen, like IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Foundation SPF 50, with zinc oxide and titanium oxide.