Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Sunscreen Review

This chemical sunscreen includes beneficial ingredients like allantoin, vitamin E, aloe, and ceramides.

Slowly but surely, I’m going to review all the sunscreens in Sephora’s Sun Safety Kit 2018. Today, we’ll be focusing on Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Sunscreen, which is a chemical sunscreen that includes a bunch of other antioxidants and moisturizing ingredients, including vitamins A, C, and E, pro-vitamin B5 (panthenol), aloe, and ceramides. But while writing this post, I also discovered just how confusing and unreliable ingredient lists can be—even when they’re posted on the company’s own website.

The case of the confusing ingredient lists

Cosmetic ingredient lists can be really difficult to find, and even when you think you have the right one (provided by the company itself), they can be unreliable, outdated, or incomplete, as I discovered for myself when I tried to ask my dad for his review of Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Sunscreen SPF 30.

Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Sunscreen Review

This post will include a bunch of insights I learned about unreliable ingredient lists. If you’d like to just skip ahead to the actual review, click here. Otherwise, sit down and enjoy my weird story of trying to track down the correct ingredient list for this product.

Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Sunscreen ingredients (as listed on the company’s website)

I started things off the usual way, by copying and pasting the ingredient list in an email to my dad:

Active ingredients: avobenzone 3%, homosalate 10%, octinoxate 7.5%, octisalate 5%, octocrylene 2%, oxybenzone 6%

Inactive ingredients: allantoin, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, aluminum starch octenylsuccinate, ascorbyl palmitate, bentonite, butylene glycol, c12-15 alkyl benzoate, capryllic/capric triglyceride, carbomer, ceramide 3, cetyl alcohol, dimethicone, ginkgo biloba leaf extract, glyceryl stearate, panthenol, peg-100 stearate, phenoxyethanol, phospholipids, potassium sorbate, propylene glycol, retinyl palmitate, sodium benzoate, stearic acid, tetrasodium edta, tocopheryl acetate, triethanolamine, water/aqua/eau

I didn’t realize at the time that all the ingredients were listed in alphabetical order. This is how they were listed on the Peter Thomas Roth website here, and also how they were listed in the pamphlet of ingredients that came with Sephora’s Sun Safety Kit 2018. Plus, the active ingredients are usually listed in descending order of concentration, but even these were alphabetized in this case.

Here’s what my dad had to say:

Dear Emily, all these sunscreens are most commonly used actives that are approved by US FDA , to meet the UVA requirement for SPF 30 or above, the composition must contain at least 3 % of Avobenzone, all the other actives can be combined with different ratios to achieve desired SPF and cost targets.
Based on the ingredients used, it looks like a decent formula but doesn’t provide enough water resistance, may not be suitable for swimming?
I also suspect this company’s Regulatory didn’t provide the ingredient list correctly, i’ll need to test this product to test and confirm further.

Love,
Dad

Now that’s what I call a “chemist’s insight”…an SPF 30 sunscreen must contain at least 3 percent avobenzone in order to meet the UVA requirement to qualify as broad spectrum.

He said that it looked like a decent formula, but that it wouldn’t be suitable for swimming. He also questioned whether the ingredient list was correct. I was intrigued, so I asked him what made him suspect that the ingredients weren’t in the right order. Here was his response:

I suspected because in the inactive ingredient list, allantoin, aloe barbadensis leaf juiceis the first two (that mean these two ingredient are the top two ingredients that have the highest concentration in the composition (when active ingredients are excluded), both Allantoin and aloe barbadensis leaf juice are expensive the weight % definitely can’t be on the top while water/Aqua is less than all the inactive ingredients unless the price is much higher than all the competitors.

Love,
Dad

Ah, interesting. aloe and allantoin are both expensive ingredients, but they’re the first two listed in the inactive ingredient section, indicating that this product contains a high percentage of these ingredients. Meanwhile, water is listed last, which is strange. The FDA requires any ingredient that is included at 2 percent or greater of the composition to be listed in order of descending concentration. So the fact that two expensive ingredients were listed first raised a red flag for my dad.

Once I did some digging on Sephora’s website, I found a different ingredient list.

Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Sunscreen ingredients (as listed on Sephora.com)

Active ingredients: homosalate 10%, octinoxate 7.5%, oxybenzone 6%, octisalate 5%, avobenzone 3%, and octocrylene 2%
Inactive ingredients:water, propylene glycol, glyceryl stearate, peg-100 stearate, c12-15 alkyl benzoate, caprylic/capric triglyceride, palmitic acid, phenoxyethanol, stearic acid, triethanolamine, bentonite, carbomer, dimethicone, allantoin, peg-8 dimethicone, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, cetyl alcohol, panthenol, aluminum starch octenylsuccinate, tetrasodium edta, myristic acid, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, arachidic acid, lauric acid, ascorbic acid, octyldodecanol, retinyl palmitate, silica, sodium propoxyhydroxypropyl thiosulfate silica, tocopheryl acetate, ceramide np, butylene glycol, ginkgo biloba leaf extract, butyl acetate
Source: Sephora.com product listing here

I sent the new list to my dad and here’s what he had to say:

Yes, very good Emily! This ingredient is correct, it looks different than the inactive ingredient list that you sent the first time.

Love,
Dad

Another twist: The ingredient lists don’t match

At first, I thought that these two versions were the same, just in different order. Upon closer inspection, it appears that although they include the same active sunscreen ingredients, the inactive ingredients differ slightly.

After running it through my Python script that compares two ingredient lists, here were the results:

Ingredients in Peter Thomas Roth website ingredient list but not in Sephora version

phospholipids, ascorbyl palmitate, ceramide 3

Ingredients in Sephora.com ingredient list that are missing in Peter Thomas Roth website ingredient list

myristic acid, lauric acid, ascorbic acid, octyldodecanol, ceramide np, sodium propoxyhydroxypropyl thiosulfate silica, peg-8 dimethicone, butyl acetate, palmitic acid, arachidic acid, silica

Interestingly, these two ingredient lists contain different forms of vitamin C. The Sephora.com version lists ascorbic acid (water-soluble vitamin C), while the Peter Thomas Roth version lists ascorbyl palmitate (a fat-soluble form of vitamin C). Since this formula contains water, ascorbyl palmitate may win out over ascorbic acid since when ascorbic acid is exposed to water, it oxidizes and loses its effectiveness. Read my vitamin C guide for more details.

I’m still not sure which ingredient list is correct. I’m guessing that the one on Peter Thomas Roth’s website includes the right ingredients, just listed in the wrong order (alphabetical instead of starting off with the ingredients included at greater than 2% concentration). But I really have no way of confirming the truth.

Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Sunscreen Review

Whereas chemical sunscreen can sometimes irritate sensitive skin and make it sting, Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Sunscreen includes a lot of soothing ingredients like aloe, allantoin, and vitamins like A, C, E, and B5, which can help offset that irritation. These antioxidants can also help defend skin against damage induced by free radicals and UV radiation. It’s also fragrance-free. This means it is probably a good choice for people who have sensitive skin but don’t like the white cast left behind by physical sunscreens.

This sunscreen blends easily into your skin, and does not leave a white cast or oily residue on your skin. However, the mixup about the ingredient lists makes me a bit wary of recommending this as a go-to sunscreen option for summer. Plus, it isn’t water-resistant and it’s only SPF 30.

coppertone oil free faces sunscreen spf 50

To me, it was quite similar to Coppertone Oil-Free Faces Sunscreen SPF 50, which I’ve used before, and is much more affordable. Plus, Coppertone’s version is water-resistant, while this one isn’t. For this reason, I’d rather recommend Coppertone Oil-Free Faces Sunscreen over this one.

Further reading

Other reviews of sunscreens in Sephora’s Sun Safety Kit 2018:

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