Paula’s Choice Essential Glow Moisturizer Editor Review

First thing’s first: Essential Glow is a 100% mineral formula. It contains both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, the only two ingredients the Environmental Working Group has deemed safe for use and effective at protecting the skin from UV damage. Zinc oxide is a particularly stellar choice for reactive skin, and because my combination skin is also prone to breakouts, I much prefer a mineral-based formula. “Zinc oxide is arguably the most skin-calming of all the active sunscreen ingredients,” board-certified dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo, M.D., FAAD, tells mbg about the ingredient, and it’s also noncomedogenic, so it won’t clog pores and cause acne. 

The thing is, zinc oxide is also known for its chalky white cast, which isn’t so conducive to a fresh-faced glow (whereas chemical sunscreens are much more spreadable and layer exceptionally well under makeup). Given this common gripe, many mineral-based brands include a variety of plant-based oils to thin out the consistency, but these can often feel heavy and leave create too much shine. 

This Paula’s Choice SPF, on the other hand, contains argan oil (which is known for being super nutrient-dense without clogging pores) along with subtle, illuminating tints to neutralize the ghostly finish—it practically disappears upon application. I also appreciate how the formula feels super moisturizing without ever appearing greasy. It delivers just the right amount of glow exactly where I want it. 

For further skin defense, Essential Glow also contains a host of antioxidant-rich players, like vitamin C, niacinamide, and licorice and kiwi extracts. These ingredients fend off free radicals from UV exposure, air pollution, and other environmental aggressors, which can help keep your complexion youthful and bright. So this Paula’s Choice number not only provides an immediate glow—it also enhances your skin’s brightness over time. 

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