Is Desert Essence Organics' Natural Sunscreen Worth the Price?
written by: Finn Orfano•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 7/14/2011
Tired of burning, but unwilling to load up on chemical sunscreen? Desert Essence might have just the solution.
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Why Mineral Sunscreen?
According to the Environmental Working Group, the chemicals present in some sunscreens may present a serious health hazard. The EWG also provides a list of their top-ranked natural sunscreens, but the Desert Essence Organics Age Reversal Mineral Sunscreen wasn't on that list. This begs the question: At $15.99 per 3 oz bottle, is this natural sunscreen product worth the cost? Desert Essence sunscreen reviews from users have been mostly positive, but we take a closer, hands-on look.
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This product is indeed chemical free. The active ingredients that protect you from the sun (SPF 30) are a combination of superfine zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Most of the other ingredients are easily recognizable (organic vegetable glycerine, sandalwood essential oil, and so on) and there's a long list of ingredients you won't find in this bottle, including paraben and sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates. No artificial fragrances and colors means this product is particularly friendly to those with allergies or sensitivities to such products.
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When first opened this bottle of sunscreen acted rather like a bottle of mustard might, liquid leaking out before the soft, creamy-chalky looking solids. There should be something on the label stating to shake it up before use. After a quick re-cap and shaking, the product came out more evenly. The amount of sunscreen dispensed with each squeeze of the bottle is easy to control. The product has a subtle natural odor, vaguely reminiscent of the beach. A little bit of this product goes a long way; at first it looks as though you're covering your body in something that looks like chalk but feels like a pleasant skin cream. Once you've distributed a thin coating of this natural sunscreen over your skin, however, it soaks in within a minute or two. First it leaves a faint milky ghost of color, then it disappears completely. Best of all, there's no slimy or slippery after-effect as with many chemical sunscreens.
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This product is billed as a face-specific sunscreen, but can be applied just as easily to any part of the body. Since so little is needed, the 3 oz tube that at first seemed skimpy is suddenly more than adequate--there's plenty to go around. One's skin feels moisturized but not greasy after using this product, a fact that lends it just as well to use on the body as the face. Desert Essence Mineral Sunscreen can also be used underneath makeup, giving you the option of protecting yourself while still looking your best if you so choose.
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It's difficult to comment on the protective abilities of this natural sunscreen without having a way to scientifically verify its rating of SPF 30. However, one notes that when applied to skin that had already been badly sunburnt--to the point of blistering--it was sufficient to protect this already tender and damaged skin from further burns. A similar application to unburnt skin--followed by hours in the sun--yielded equally good results.
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In conclusion, this natural Desert Essence sunscreen is in fact worth its hefty price tag ($15.99 for a 3 oz bottle) if you're determined to avoid chemicals. The only gripes are minor ones: It must be shaken vigorously before use and when applied to extremely dry skin (such as a severe sunburn) it may not absorb entirely, leaving faint white marks behind. This latter problem can be resolved, at least partially, by remembering the prior tip: Shake vigorously to mix the liquid with the superfine mineral powders before use. The other part of the solution, of course, is to put this sunscreen on before you get burnt, not after.