A persistent (in a perfectly nice way) marketing guy got me to spend the past three or four weeks trying out Eucerin’s Everyday Protection Body Lotion SPF 15 ($11.99 for 13.5oz).  This is not a product that I would normally reach for. I am nothing if not snobby when it comes to skincare, but on a more serious note, I generally keep away from chemical sunscreens because they irritate my skin. Nonetheless, I was I intrigued as to whether this drugstore brand deserved to be dermatologist and Skin Cancer Foundation recommended.

First the good. This is a thick but relatively lightweight lotion that is efficiently hydrating. It takes a little while to sink in, but I wouldn’t describe it (as some online reviewers have) as unduly greasy.  Up to a point, I would recommend Eucerin’s Everyday Protection as a budget body lotion.  But with two caveats: avoid it if you are sensitive skinned as my experience suggests that it may cause an allergic reaction and, ironically, the culprit may be the ingredient that Eucerin claims qualifies this body lotion as being “antioxidant enriched”.

I had a mild allergic reaction each time I used Eucerin’s Everyday protection. My hands itched and little bumps formed under the skin. By and large, the rest of my body reacted less conspicuously though – just some intermittent itching and a breakout on the backs of my shoulders. I am known to be sensitive to some sunscreens, but the three chemical ones used here are not associated with irritation and, with the exception of octinoxate (a possible estrogen mimicker), research has given them a relatively clean bill of health.

Indeed, most of the ingredients here are non-irritating. An exception could be arginine HCL, which is contraindicated for the allergy-prone and the MSDS warns of skin irritation (but that's with contact at 100% concentrations). The emollient glyceryl stearate SE can be irritating to skin, but is considered safe at concentrations under 2%. Sodium cetearyl sulfate is also only considered an irritant at high doses.

By and large, Eucerin seems to have been fairly scrupulous (if unimaginative) about the choice of most of its ingredients. Perhaps it is the combination of them that has given me problems. I should admit though, that I am more sensitive than most.

I tried out another hypothesis and wondered if Eucerin’s decision to give its body lotion a bit of antioxidant oomph with tocopheryl acetate might be the cause of my skin reaction. Tocopheryl Acetate is vitamin E and appears higher up Everyday Protection’s ingredients list than is usual with most cosmetics. It is one of those frenemy ingredients. Although an antioxidant, it is also known to be a toxin. A study published in Contact Dermatitis found that four cases of contact dermatitis were caused by cosmetic creams that contained Tocopheryl Acetate. Nonetheless, allergic contact dermatitis seems to be relatively rare (source).

In the end, there doesn't seem much to point a finger at, which is why it tends to get a thumbs up from dermatologists. But for whatever reason it didn't really work out for me and I am going back to my argan oil enriched Zinn Body Milk.

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Active ingredients: Homosalate, octinoxate, octisalate, titanium dioxide

Ingredients: Water, glycerin, butylene glycol, cetearyl alcohol, urea, C18-36 acid trigylceride, caprylic/capric triglyceride, dimethicone, octyldodecanol, sodium lactate, arginine hcl, tocopheryl acetate, glyceryl strearate SE, carrageenan, PEG-40 castor oil, sodium cetearyl sulfate, disodium EDTA, sodium citrate, lactic acid, carbomer, citric acid, trimethoxycaprylysilane, benzyl alcohol, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, propylparaben, potassium sorbate.