Review: Cosmedix Reflect SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen Spray

By Voxy  

What? A sunscreen that Voxy actually likes? Can’t be.

No, seriously, it’s true. (Actually, there have been a couple I’ve been liking lately. Someone better check the alignment of the planets, because this is very suspicious.)

The Reflect sunscreen spray is part of my general love affair with the Cosmedix line. Everyone should be wearing sunscreen, but this goes double — triple — for anyone who’s also using Retin-A, a retinol product, hydroquinone, or AHAs. These products increase your skin’s photosensitivity so it’s even more important that you slather on the SPF. The problem is that so much of the time, slathering on the SPF is so unpleasant that it almost guarantees noncompliance. (I am not immune to that either; I’ve been searching for a sunscreen that I didn’t resent wearing every day.)

I’m so happy that Reflect is a sunscreen that is actually a pleasure to wear. (See? Go check the planets, right now.)

Reflect uses micronized titanium dioxide to provide broad-spectrum UV protection, and manages to do it without that terrible Edward Cullen ghostly white cast that titanium dioxide sometimes evokes. Because this is a physical sunscreen, not a chemical one, you can put it on at the end of your moisturizing routine, before you apply makeup. It also contains antioxidants, which is a nice bonus.

It comes in a spray bottle, and in theory you could hold the bottle in front of your face, with your eyes squeezed shut, and spritz away. In practicality, however, the spray mechanism does not produce very fine droplets, so you will look like someone flicked a paintbrush covered in white paint in your general direction. If it didn’t extend to getting on clothes, I wouldn’t care so much, but at this price point you really don’t want to waste any. Instead, squirt two or three spritzes at a time into your hand, and apply with fingers. You can pat the remainder into your skin with your palm. Don’t be afraid of the white color; it melts into colorlessness a few seconds after application.

What I love about this is that you can apply it over moisturizer and it’s imperceptible under makeup. This is unusual. And — O frabjous day! — it doesn’t make me break out. Now, there are some drawbacks: it’s not waterproof, so you would need to reapply after any swimmy activities. If I were planning a day out in the sun doing summery outside things, this isn’t the sunscreen I’d turn to — I’d probably use the Neutrogena liquid sunblock. This is partially because the Neutrogena is more tenacious under extreme conditions like sweating glowing and swimming, and partially because the Reflect is too expensive to use in a situation where you would need to reapply it frequently. It’s a fabulous sunscreen for handling daily exposure in small amounts, but if you’re planning any extended activities in the sun, I’d go with something more powerful and cheaper.


Cosmedix Reflect SPF 30 sunscreen spray: $44. Available in-store at some spas, or order online at DermStore, Skinstore, etc. (Cosmedix does not sell directly from their website.)

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair. I mean, come on, $42 for a sunscreen? But I actually use it (without complaining), so evidently it’s worth it for me.

Purchase again? Yes, but only on sale.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

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  1. avatar chaosbydesign
    Posted August 8, 2010 at 6:38 am | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve never bothered to put on sunscreen on a daily basis considering I live in a cold place, but now I’m in a city where temperatures are reaching 30-35C in the day, I think it might be time to invest in some.

    I am wearing makeup that claims to be SPF30, though–will that offer sufficient protection in itself without the need for extra sunscreen?

    Obviously I’m putting sunscreen on everywhere else or I’d be extremely sunburned by now (instead I have ridiculous tan lines; I can live with those), but I am reluctant to put the slimy regular sunscreen I have on my face.

    What do you all think; buy a facial sunscreen or just carry on using the SPF30 makeup?


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted August 8, 2010 at 9:04 am | Permalink | Reply

      Buy a facial sunscreen.

      Sunscreen in makeup is nice, but I think you should really consider it just an “extra” bit of protection. The problem is how much makeup you would need to apply to actually get full SPF 30 protection — that amount is probably much more than you actually want. (I wish someone would do a study with pictures of someone wearing that much makeup, just to see it.)

      Sunscreen in makeup is better than nothing, but not as good as an actual sunscreen.

      However! If you like powder sunscreens, those are nice and can be applied on top of makeup. Some are invisible or near-colorless so they’re not at all slimy. (I like Peter Thomas Roth and Colorescience [a second line started by the Bare Escentuals people].) And the Cosmedix and Neutrogena liquid ones have been good for me.


  2. avatar marigolds
    Posted August 5, 2010 at 10:57 am | Permalink | Reply

    Whew. I thought you meant it always had to go on last, after everything else (poor reading comprehension for $200, Alex!) and I was DREADING putting that slimy, oily stuff atop my perfectly made-up face and displacing all my hard work.


  3. avatar a biologist
    Posted August 5, 2010 at 10:41 am | Permalink | Reply

    My chemical sunscreen is IN my moisturizer. I don’t get sunburned, so I imagine that putting sunscreen on either right before or right after moisturizer would work fine.

    I think what Voxy says about heavy moisturizers blocking the chemicals makes sense–my daytime moisturizer is reasonably light.


  4. avatar Inthelab
    Posted August 4, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    @Marigolds, I never heard of that either.
    Foxy, can we get clarification here?
    And have you tried any Person & Covey sun products yet? Cheap and great for sensitive skin, they are all I use (DML SPF25 is my fave).


  5. avatar marigolds
    Posted August 4, 2010 at 11:14 am | Permalink | Reply

    Wait, wait, wait, wait. You can’t put a chemical sunscreen on over moisturizer/under makeup?

    Shit. I’ve been doing it all wrong.


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted August 5, 2010 at 1:39 am | Permalink | Reply

      “Wait, wait, wait, wait. You can’t put a chemical sunscreen on over moisturizer/under makeup?”

      Oy. The problem is that no matter where you look you will be able to find tons of dermatologists’ opinions that exactly contradict the dermatologists’ opinions you already have. Seriously, no one seems to know for sure.

      However — the conventional wisdom on the subject is: 1) no matter what order you apply things in, sunscreen is better than no sunscreen, even if you didn’t put it on exactly in the right order, and 2) chemical sunscreens, which are absorbed by the skin, should be put onto skin before other, heavier moisturizing lotions that may prevent the sunscreen from being absorbed. Physical sunscreens, which provide protection from UVA/UVB rays by physically blocking the light, should be put on after moisturizer. If you put it on before moisturizer, you are probably decreasing the effectiveness of your moisturizer (since the skin can’t absorb it as well due to the titanium dioxide armor). I have no data, but I would wonder as well about whether the sunscreen would stay in place with moisturizer sliding on top of it.

      But, you only have to Google to find one dermatologist who says it should always go on first and another one who says it should always go on last. In general the chemical-vs.-physical distinction makes sense to me.


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