Peter Thomas Roth’s Oily Problem Skin Instant Mineral SPF 30 Powder Review

I have that classic clog/acne prone complaint: almost all sunscreen – or sunscreen containing products – make me look greasy, clog my pores and cause tons of obnoxious breakouts. Protecting the skin from the sun, sure, but at the cost of stressing it out and inflaming it in a different way – there has to be a better way, right?

Now, I’ve since had my eyes opened to the wonders of Asian sunscreen formulas, but prior to that discovery I was pretty much only looking at products I could obtain locally. I’d narrowed my possibilities to either SPF powder or a serum, as those two delivery systems seemed to be the least likely to contain some of the more clogging ingredients found in most sunscreens – after all, I figured, my issue was most likely with ingredients in the product base, not the actual SPF actives, so perhaps changing the format of my SPF would make it more tolerable to my clogs-at-the-speed-of-light skin type.

With that in mind, I purchased Peter Thomas Roth’s Oily Problem Skin Instant Mineral SPF 30 Powder. With ingredients like willow bark (known for helping to soothe irritated/inflamed skin, and an ingredient that I know works very well for me personally) and kaolin (to help control oil), I had high hopes for this product to be the solution for my sunscreen woes.

Here are the precise ingredients, courtesy of Peter Thomas Roth – Clinical Skin Care:
ACTIVE INGREDIENTS:
TITANIUM DIOXIDE 13.65%, ZINC OXIDE 14.70%.

INACTIVE INGREDIENTS:
ILLITE, SILICA, BARIUM SULFATE, TAPIOCA STARCH, ALUMINUM STARCH OCTENYLSUCCINATE, ALUMINUM HYDROXIDE, STEARIC ACID, SALICYLIC ACID, SALIX ALBA (WILLOW) BARK EXTRACT, RETINYL PALMITATE (VITAMIN A), ASCORBYL PALMITATE (VITAMIN C), TOCOPHERYL ACETATE (VITAMIN E), DIMETHICONE/VINYL DIMETHICONE CROSSPOLYMER, MAGNESIUM MYRISTATE, KAOLIN, MALTODEXTRIN, TRIETHOXYCAPRYLYLSILANE, WATER (AQUA), BUTYLENE GLYCOL, CHLORPHENESIN, POTASSIUM SORBATE, TETRASODIUM EDTA.

MAY CONTAIN: MICA, BISMUTH OXYCHLORIDE, IRON OXIDES, MANGANESE VIOLET, CHROMIUM OXIDE GREENS, CHROMIUM HYDROXIDE GREEN, FERRIC FERROCYANIDE, ALUMINUM POWDER, CARMINE.

There are a few possibly problematic ingredients here.

First off is Stearic Acid, netting a 2 on the acne trigger scale. I’ve known a few people who are sensitive to anything with stearic acid involved, so be aware that if this is one of your acne instigators, you probably don’t want to try this particular product.

Other risky ingredients are Retinyl Palmitate (antioxidant, 2 for acne, 1 for irritation – also the victim of a lot of misguided bad press circulated by well-meaning bloggers, allow Paula Begoun to dispel some myths for you), Ascorbyl Palmitate (antioxidant, 2 for acne), and Butylene Glycol (a solvent/conditioning agent with some bad rep circulating the internet, but still generally considered safe, 1 for acne).

In regards to the SPF actives, Zinc Oxide protects from both UVA and UVB rays and rates a 1 as a possible acne trigger; Titanium Dioxide handles UVB and some UVA and doesn’t bring up any warning rating.

So how well does this sunscreen powder work? Read on!

It’s actually quite good, IMO, but there are a few possibly fatal flaws depending on how you plan to use this product.

First, the good:

The powder is fine and truly translucent – at first I thought I’d received a bum brush dispenser because I couldn’t see the powder going onto my face, but when I tested it on my hand and looked closer, I could see that the brush was actually distributing plenty of powder. This means that you can apply the copious amounts of powder necessary to actually get that SPF rating (you’ll have to apply a LOT more than you usually would with finishing or colored powder, so be aware) without looking cakey and white. I know that PTR also offers a tinted version (though it might be discontinued now, as I can’t find it on either their website or Sephora’s now that I’m looking), but it’s for this reason that I personally would prefer the translucent powder.

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I didn’t experience any clogs or irritation from this product, which is excellent. It’s actually probably the ONLY American brand sunscreen that doesn’t clog me, now that I think about it. I chalk that up to most American brands seemingly catering to middle-aged women of a certain skin type/tone, in which I definitely don’t belong. I’m oily but sensitive and easily dehydrated (meaning that most products for breakouts and acne-prone skin are irritating nightmares for me; similarly, the tendency some brands have to pour fragrance by the bucket into their products is also really painful to my skin), clog-prone (eliminating a lot of the moisturizing ingredients common in the US), and I don’t have the pink undertones that cosmetic companies seem to believe all women have. PTR is actually one of the few brands where I can use a lot of their items without running into these issues, which is a big reason why I was willing to shell out $30 to try out this SPF powder.

Since SPF breaks down via sun exposure, if you’re going to be out in the sun for more than two hours you’ll need to reapply. The Peter Thomas Roth’s Oily Problem Skin Instant Mineral SPF 30 Powder is very portable, as it utilizes screw-type caps to keep things stable on the bottom, and the brush cap fits snugly. You can probably carry this in a purse or bag with no problems, unless you’re tossing really heavy textbooks or something on top of the powder – I think that much force could possibly dislodge the cap. So if you’re taking this to college or work or something in a bookbag, I’d recommend keeping it in one of the smaller side pockets!

The powder does have a slight mattifying effect without being drying. While I’m not afraid of the minor dewy look that some products give me, others definitely confuse ‘dewy’ with ‘greasy’ and so some sort of finishing powder is a necessity. This product can serve that purpose quite easily.

I also find that it doesn’t sweat off or wear off as easily as I was afraid it might; while it’s not some super sweatproof 8-hour longevity or anything, it doesn’t tend to start wearing off for me for about 4-5 hours or so, even in the maddeningly humid/hot summer we had last year. For oilier skins, this timeframe would probably be even smaller, but since you should be reapplying your sunscreen throughout the day anyhow, that’s not a killer for this specific product IMO.

Now, the bad:

The brush is not removable, and thus NOT WASHABLE. For a product aimed at people with oily skin, this is a horrible packaging decision.  It’s not SUCH a big deal if you’re only applying this powder directly after you’ve just done your morning skincare regime without any makeup; you probably won’t get much build-up on the brush that way. But a big selling point of this product is its portability and the ease with which you can apply it over makeup – both of which will absolutely result in residue and build-up on the brush over time, either from foundation/BB cream/whatever or your skin’s natural oils. You can somewhat mitigate the oil issue by always making sure to use some oil-absorbing papers before reapplying your SPF powder, but even that isn’t a perfect solution.

Additionally, the brush also begins to shed like crazy after about a week. I’m talking like ~10 brush hairs on your face after application. If you’re trying to reapply this on the go, without a mirror, this is really not fun.

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Here's a zoomed-in look at the brush. You can see how it's permanently attached to the powder container.
Here’s a zoomed-in look at the brush. You can see how it’s permanently attached to the powder container. You twist the screw-style bottom to swivel the brush up and down.

Lastly, of course, only having SPF 30 isn’t optimal. The anti-aging variety of this powder (a Sephora exclusive, available here) has SPF 45, so I don’t understand why they felt the need to reduce that for the oily skin version. As people become more serious about sun protection, SPF 50 is becoming the in-demand rating. PTR should really consider amping up the sun protection in all of their SPF powders as they’re all starting to seem a bit dated with their lower SPF.

These flaws are frustrating because they’re not really problems in the actual powder itself; just minor packaging tweaks and an increase in the SPF and this product would be perfect. Make the brushheads removable and washable; make them a bit better quality so that they can both stand up to being washed as well as refrain from shedding like my Shar Pei in the summer. Give us SPF 50 so that oily-skinned folk who still want strong protection can get the best of both worlds! C’mon, PTR!

Bottom line: This product desperately needs some changes, but it’s still better than nothing. If you’ve been skipping sunscreen because it clogs/breaks you out or makes you super greasy (and/or importing and trying out Asian sunscreens isn’t an option for whatever reason), give Peter Thomas Roth’s Oily Problem Skin Instant Mineral SPF 30 Powder a shot before you just give up and go without SPF.

You can purchase this product directly from Peter Thomas Roth’s website or from Sephora. If you go the Sephora route, I strongly recommend using eBates – it’s free and as of this writing, they’re offering 8% cash back on all Sephora purchases, which is pretty fantastic. I’ve been using eBates for about a year (thanks to Jennifer for showing me the way, the truth, and the light) and I can confirm that they are trustworthy and reliable about payouts.

I hope that this Peter Thomas Roth’s Oily Problem Skin Instant Mineral SPF 30 Powder Review helped anyone who was considering this product! Overall, I think it’s a pretty solid buy if you have oily, clog-prone skin but can’t/don’t want to import and experiment with Asian sunscreens. It can definitely be improved, of course, but even as-is it still provides sun protection without irritation and inflamation via breakouts.

Now that I’m looking at their site, it seems like they’ve discontinued all the powder SPFs other than this one (I assume this means that others share my generally positive view of this product and so it’s selling well, then), they have introduced an intriguing cream-to-powder anti-aging SPF 50 item that’s both cheaper than the powder AND water-resistant:

I think I might give this a shot when I run out of my current SPF 50 product (though it’ll be hard pressed to top how much I dig my Sunkiller!). As I’ve said before, I generally trust Peter Thomas Roth in a way that I don’t pretty much any other brand just because their track record for me has been so good, so I’m willing to try products that I’d probably ignore if they came from anyone else, haha.

Affiliate links are present in this post; THANK YOU if you use any of them! See the site disclaimer for more info if you’re curious about what this means.

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