I Tried Neutrogena's Pure & Free Sunscreen, and I Have Some Thoughts

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Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Lotion

Byrdie / Sabrina Talbert

What We Like
  • SPF 50

  • Softens skin

  • Hydrates

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy white cast

  • Difficult to work into skin

  • Doesn't wear well under makeup

Neutrogena’s Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Lotion is fragrance-free and hypoallergenic, making it a great option for people with sensitive skin—just know it does leave a white cast.

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Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Lotion

Byrdie / Sabrina Talbert

Sunscreen is a year-round necessity. There are plenty of options out there, and finding the right one for your skin type can be tricky. Some can dry your skin out while others can be too oily and cause breakouts. The Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Lotion offers a mineral SPF 50 formula developed with sensitive skin in mind. I’m used to using chemical sunscreens, so I was curious to see how it would differ.

Read on for my full review.

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Lotion

Best for: Sensitive skin

Uses: Protects skin from sunburn

Potential allergens: Feverfew flower/leaf/stem juice, chlorphenesin

Active ingredients: 21.6 percent zinc oxide

Byrdie Clean?: No

Cruelty-Free?: No

Price: $12.99

About the brand: Neutrogena was founded in 1930 and is known for its affordable skin and hair care and makeup.

About My Skin: Somewhat sensitive and unpredictable

My skin rarely reacts to products, but every now and then I will try something that makes my skin break out into a rash or swell up. I haven’t been able to identify exactly which products cause my skin to react this way, but truthfully it makes me hesitant to try products with unfamiliar ingredients. 

I’ve never had any issues with sunscreen, so I was hopeful about the Pure & Free line. I only have to worry about getting sunburnt during the summer. I don’t burn easily, but it definitely has happened in the past. When I tested Neutrogena’s Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Lotion, I prepped my skin with Belif’s The True Cream Aqua Bomb and applied a light layer of concealer and mattifying powder on top of the sunscreen.

The Feel: Watery and sits on top of skin

The consistency was a bit on the watery side but no different than other mineral sunscreens. When I applied, I immediately noticed how long it took to work the product into my skin. It left a noticeable white cast. After taking about three minutes to blend it, it finally began to even out. Having to rub my skin so much caused some mild irritation and redness. The formula sat on top of my skin, which also made any streaks on my face slightly noticeable under my makeup.

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Lotion on a person's hand

Byrdie / Sabrina Talbert

When I applied, I immediately noticed how long it took to work the product into my skin.

The Results: Moisturized skin with a white cast

As the day went on, my irritation from all that vigorous blending subsided, but I found my face getting a little itchy from time to time. It’s recommended to reapply every two hours, but I ultimately decided not to. Despite all this, it did leave my skin feeling moisturized throughout the entire day. The benefit of the white cast is that you can see where you applied the sunscreen as opposed to a chemical sunscreen that completely melts in the skin to the point where you can’t see it. On the day I tested the sunscreen, I spent a lot of time running around out in the sun. After spending most of the day outside, I realized my skin remained soft without feeling oily.

After spending most of the day outside, I realized my skin remained soft without feeling oily.

The Value: Worth it

The Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Lotion retails for around $13, which is less than other mineral sunscreens on the market. In general, mineral sunscreens tend to contain zinc oxide and are more expensive than chemical ones on average.

Similar Products: You've got options

Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen ($13): If you’re a fan of Neutrogena, this option with SPF 50 is a great alternative. It’s the same price as the Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Lotion and contains the same level of sun protection. It’s also designed to be lightweight, not greasy.

CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 Face Lotion ($16): CeraVe’s formula is oil-free and contains both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. For a few dollars more than Neutrogena’s sunscreen, it also contains ceramides, which help the skin retain moisture and restore its natural barrier.

Final Verdict

The Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Lotion does a good job at providing full coverage from sun rays at an affordable price. I personally wish it was easier to blend in for darker skin tones, but if you don’t mind a white cast, I would recommend testing it out.

Specs

  • Product Name Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
  • Product Brand Neutrogena
  • UPC 086800110829
  • Price $12.99
  • Weight 3 oz.
  • Ingredients 21.6% Zinc Oxide, Water, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Octyldodecyl Citrate Crosspolymer, Phenyl Trimethicone, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Dimethicone, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Glycerin, Ethyl Methicone, Cetyl Dimethicone, Silica, Chrysanthemum Parthenium (Feverfew) Flower/Leaf/Stem Juice, Glyceryl Behenate, Phenethyl Alcohol, Caprylyl Glycol, Cetyl Dimethicone/Bis-Vinyldimethicone Crosspolymer, Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin. Chrysanthemum Parthenium (Feverfew) Flower/Leaf/Stem Juice
Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Coderch L, López O, de la Maza A, Parra JL. Ceramides and skin function. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2003;4(2):107-29. doi: 10.2165/00128071-200304020-00004. PMID: 12553851.

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