We purchased Alba Botanica's Very Emollient Daily Shade Lotion SPF 15 so our writer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.
Alba Botanica's Very Emollient Daily Shade Lotion SPF 15 is pretty impressive for an affordable skincare product you can pick up at the drugstore. It's part moisturizer, part sun protection—plus, it's packed with skin-loving ingredients (like antioxidants and alpha-hydroxy acids) and is totally free of sulfates and parabens. But does it really deliver? To find out, I put its hydration and sun protection to the test in the hot Florida sun. Read on for my honest review.
Alba Botanica Very Emollient Daily Shade Lotion SPF 15
Best for: Normal to dry skin
Star Rating: 3.5 / 5
Uses: Sun protection, moisturizer
Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene
Byrdie Clean?: Yes
About the Brand: Alba Botanica creates skin and earth-friendly body products that use 100% vegetarian ingredients.
About My Skin: Light-medium, normal skin
I live in Miami, so I’m often walking around in the sun in shorts and a tee. While I’m religious about applying sunscreen to my face, I often forgo it anywhere else unless I’m headed to the beach. My skin type is normal and not usually too dry, but I could also stand to apply moisturizer more often.
Ingredients: Good-for-the-skin formulation
This lotion is packed with skin-loving (and 100% vegetarian) ingredients like aloe vera, green tea, and chamomile extracts, along with other antioxidants. It also contains AHAs (glycolic and lactic acid), which help to chemically exfoliate but can make the skin sun-sensitive, so it’s especially important that you continue to use SPF consistently. This formula is also cruelty-free and doesn't contain any artificial colors, parabens, phthalates, and sulfates.
In terms of SPF, this sunscreen uses chemical ingredients to protect the skin: avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene. Fortunately, these are all environmentally friendly and reef-safe, unlike oxybenzone, which this formula doesn't contain. However, this product isn't water-resistant, so for full SPF benefits, be sure to reapply at least every two hours, as well as after sweating or swimming.
The Feel: Rich and creamy
While this product is described as a lightweight lotion, it’s anything but—I found it to be super-rich and creamy. It takes some effort to rub in, but it seems to melt into the skin quickly to leave it feeling moisturized. After several minutes I can still feel the tackiness of the lotion, but soon after my skin feels silky soft.
The Packaging: A large pump bottle
Alba Botanica Very Emollient Daily Shade Lotion comes in a large, plastic pump bottle, which I prefer over tubs because it’s more sanitary. I also like the bottle is slightly see-through so you can see how much is left—I hate when I discover I’m out of a product until it’s too late.
The Scent: There's added fragrance
There is an added scent to the Alba Botanica sunscreen. It’s very faint, but I can still smell it on my skin even an hour after application. It doesn’t smell like anything particular to me—it's reminiscent of a classic, warm lotion fragrance with a hint of freshness. While technically the ingredient “fragrance” can be nearly anything, Alba Botanica claims that it does not use synthetic fragrances.
The Results: Moisturized skin
Once the lotion soaks in, my skin both looks and feels better moisturized. I really like the way it hydrates my skin and keeps it looking healthy.
The real test is whether the SPF works, too. I tested out Alba’s sunscreen during a day out on a boat. I found that while it prevented me from getting as burnt as I might have without it, my shoulder still turned redder than parts of my skin where I used a stronger SPF. Because it’s only SPF 15, I wouldn’t recommend it for beach days or times when you’ll spend a long time outside, but I think it's suitable for extra protection during a typical day of commuting or running errands.
The Value: Very affordable
The price of Alba Botanica Very Emollient Daily Shade Lotion varies depending on where you look, but you can generally find it for $20-$25. This is a really good deal considering the bottle is a huge 32 ounces. Most other sunscreen lotions I’ve seen are around this price or more expensive, but this one has added value because of the size.
Similar Products: You've got options
Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion with Sunscreen: Another drugstore option I tested comes from Lubriderm. While Lubriderm's version contains good-for-the-skin ingredients like vitamin B5, it doesn’t focus as much on using organic, earth-friendly materials. In fact, it uses oxybenzone, the sunscreen ingredient that is banned in Hawaii for the reef damage it causes.
Supergoop! Forever Young Body Butter: Because of the higher SPF 40, we recommend this product for brighter days when you need extra sun protection. It's more expensive for a smaller bottle, but I find that it’s worth it for the quality of ingredients and formulation.
Our Verdict: A great drugstore buy
Alba Botanica Very Emollient Daily Shade Lotion SPF 15 is affordable, moisturizing, skin-protecting, and made with mostly clean ingredients, which makes it a solid product in my book. But for long days outside, go for something with a higher SPF.
Tang S-C, Yang J-H. Dual effects of alpha-hydroxy acids on the skin. Molecules. 2018;23(4):863. doi: 10.3390/molecules23040863
Downs CA, Kramarsky-Winter E, Segal R, et al. Toxicopathological effects of the sunscreen UV filter, oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3), on coral planulae and cultured primary cells and its environmental contamination in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2016;70(2):265-288. doi: 10.1007/s00244-015-0227-7