Nothing takes a toll on your face quite like a full day of downhill skiing on a sunny day. Not only do you have to shield your skin from windburn and frostbite, but you also need to combat menacing UV rays reflecting off the snow. It was in these conditions that I put Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion to the test over the past weekend on a picture-perfect ski day in Vermont. Without a cloud in the sky, the sun had a wide open field of attack and the wind blew over the mountain in fierce bursts. I figured if anything could provide protection from multiple environmental elements, it would be this lotion.

Though I can't remember how I first came across Skin MD Natural, I suspect that I was led to the company's website, which has mounted an impressive marketing campaign to lure in customers. Skin MD Natural appears to manufacture only one product, a prized and all-purpose "shielding" lotion that is unlike traditional moisturizers, which only restore moisture to the skin on a temporary basis. Skin MD Natural Lotion "not only reduces the amount of trans-dermal water loss, but over time increases the skin's ability to moisturize itself," thus restoring the skin's natural protective barrier, which is broken down on a daily basis from shampoos, cleansers, chemicals, and other irritants. I ordered the version with SPF 15, since it seemed only logical to include an additional "shield" from the sun.

When my bottle of Shielding Lotion arrived, I immediately read through the extensive promotional materials that came with it. Glowing testimonials eulogized the lotion for disappearing a deep wrinkle around the corner of someone's mouth, making a 66-year-old look 50, treating a child's excema, and curing a mother's painfully chapped hands. Marketed as the ultimate multipurpose treatment, the Shielding Lotion is meant to be used not just on the face nor just on the body, but the whole package, including hands and feet. Knowing a good friend who had been complaining of her dry, cracked hands, I thought I'd do her a favor and share this supposedly magical potion.

For the first time ever, in all of my efforts to spread the wealth of my many cosmetics trials, a product was returned to me. My friend said that the lotion didn't make her hands feel moisturized at all and instead gave them an unwelcome slippery feeling. Even though it's supposed to form a protective shield with the outer layer of skin to help keep irritants out and natural oils in for fast healing power, Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion was no match for her seriously dry, irritated skin. Surprised and disappointed by her results, I accepted the lotion back and set out on my own experiment.

Which brings me back to the ski trip. Packed with a triple dose of sunscreening agents (octinoxate, octisalate, and homosalate), the lotion smells (surprise!) very much like sunscreen. Although it leaves a slight sheen, the texture is not too greasy to require blotting and powder. But more importantly, it doesn't clog pores or cause breakouts, as so many sunscreen products are apt to do, and it's effective against the elements. After six hours in the sun at high altitudes, my cheeks and nose showed no signs of ever leaving the house.

Ultimately, Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion makes for an excellent daily lotion with SPF. Both formulas are hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, as well as free of artificial fragrances and parabens. The ingredients are for the most part exceptional, with aloe vera, arnica montana, and chamomile extracts headlining a healthy list of botanicals and the antioxidant tocopherol acetate (vitamin E) protecting the body from free radicals. Moreover, the Shielding Lotion's 4 oz. bottle is the perfect size to throw in your tote and will last a long time, even if you spread it out on both face and body.

But call a spade a spade. Skin MD Natural's product with all of its elaborate "shielding" power, is essentially a daily face lotion with sunscreen. As far as I can tell, it won't heal seriously afflicted skin and won't deliver more moisturizing benefits than an ordinary lotion. Skin MD Natural makes glycerin, propylene glycol, and petroleum out to be the enemy, but these components are part of the vast majority of emollients, which actually draw moisture into the skin rather than seal it off with a barrier. The problem with erecting a shield on the skin is that it recedes every time you wash your hands. Though it provides excellent SPF protection, Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion is not a cure-all for every skin condition under the sun.

Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 7%, Octisalate 5%, Homosalate 3%

Inactive Ingredients: Deionized water (Aqua), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract (Aloe Vera), Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Methyl Gluceth-20, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Arnica Montana Flower Extract (Arnica), Symphytum Officinale Leaf Extract (Comfrey), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract (Chamomile), Achillea Millefolium Extract (Yarrow), Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, 1,2 Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Aminomethyl Propanol, Phenoxyethanol.