Dr Dennis Gross SPF review: We put the new skin-blurring formula through its paces

It promises a lightweight consistency that suits all skin types, but how does it wear?

Mollie Butlin
Wednesday 07 April 2021 16:32
<p>According to Gross himself: ‘If you don’t love your sunscreen, you won’t use it’</p>

According to Gross himself: ‘If you don’t love your sunscreen, you won’t use it’

Without sounding like a broken record, it’s well proven and even better documented that wearing sunscreen is the single most important thing you can invest in for your skin. 

Apart from the desirable ageing prevention and effects on minimising dark sports, it’s also there to protect against sun damage, which ultimately reduces the risk of skin cancer.  Although 100,000 new cases are diagnosed in the UK each year, more than four out of five cases could be prevented, according to the British Association of Dermatologists. 

Even if you’re indoors or it’s raining – there’s no excuse. UV rays can still pass through clouds and glass, while blue light from our tech also contributes to free radical damage. And let’s face it, with working from home and the pandemic seeing us spend 40 per cent of our days looking at screens – SPF is needed inside too. 

Traditionally, SPFs have often been greasy, sticky and thick, and can leave a white cast and block pores. But thankfully science has moved on, and we now have specific facial formulas making it easier to protect our skin every day.

As many of us start to take SPF more seriously, new launches are cropping up thick and fast, and Dr Dennis Gross has thrown its hat into the ring with its new “wrinkle defense” broad spectrum sunscreen. It’s the brand’s second dabble in the face SPF market, following its highly rated “dark spot defense” version. Unlike the original, which has a thicker consistency, the new launch promises a light, oil-free, hydrating formula that blends seamlessly on all skin tones – which ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to shopping for an SPF.

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Dr Dennis Gross has been a practising dermatologist for 25 years, with celebrity clients including Selena Gomez, Olivia Palermo and Zoë Kravitz. He’s also a former skin cancer researcher at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in the US and is recognised for his experience detecting and treating skin cancer. So, he knows a thing or two about sunscreen. 

“If you don’t love your sunscreen, you won’t use it,” he says. Dr Dennis Gross also adds that nearly one-quarter of Brits don’t wear sunscreen, so finding one you love makes a huge difference. 

We put this product to the test in every area you’d want from a top quality SPF, looking at texture, application, feel and how it fairs under make-up. Here’s our verdict.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Dr Dennis Gross all-physical lightweight wrinkle defense broad spectrum sunscreen SPF 30

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The formula

To start with, it’s a physical broad-spectrum SPF 30 mineral sunscreen, protecting against UVA and UVB rays. Physical sunscreens work like a shield, sitting on the surface of the skin and deflecting and absorbing rays, as opposed to traditional chemical ones that absorb the light.

It contains 16 per cent active transparent zinc oxide, which is considered safe by the FDA and dermatologists, and is recommended for those with sensitive skin. The transparent formula means there shouldn’t be any chalky white wash or greasiness left behind,  and it’s free from fragrance and oil too.

This SPF is also equipped with potent antioxidants like bearberry, sea buckthorn, lingonberry and ferulic acid, helping to prevent damage from free radicals while also working to minimise the appearance of fine lines. So, it aims to perfect the skin while protecting it at the same time.

The ingredients list also shows polyglutamic acid – a serious hydrator, which can hold five times more moisture than hyaluronic acid, which already holds 1,000 times its own weight in water.

Polyglutamic acid is also a peptide, meaning it can help prevent water loss, and encourages natural moisturising processes, in turn plumping fine lines.

What does it feel like?

It’s an ultra-light, sheer cream texture that feels barely detectable once applied. With the correct amount of sunscreen you’re supposed to apply, sometimes sunscreens can leave you feeling a bit stiff, but this leaves the skin feeling soft and comfortable.

To get technical, you need 2mg of sunscreen per square centimetre to achieve the SPF written on the label. So, about a teaspoon sized amount, or double the amount of moisturiser you use.

It’s definitely not tacky, instead gliding on smoothly and, as suggested, rubs in easily to an invisible finish. It dispenses like a cream and totally absorbs into the skin, pronto, therefore passing all the tests so far.

How does it look?

This suited our oily combination skin especially well, leaving us feeling hydrated without looking sticky or causing any breakouts. And true to its word, it left us with zero white cast. We’ve not tested it on other skin colours, but it disappeared instantly on our pale skin with little effort.

We used it directly under IT Cosmetics’s your skin but better CC+ cream (£32.50, Cult Beauty) and the smoothing finish meant it doubled up well as a primer, not at all affecting the staying power of our make-up, or causing our base to oxidise come lunch time. 

The result visually is a refined, silky and evened-out complexion – whether you’re applying make-up afterwards or not – giving a subtle soft focus finish, which is always welcome in our book.

The verdict: Dr Dennis Gross all-physical lightweight wrinkle defense broad spectrum sunscreen SPF 30

This is ideal for all skin types, with its moisturising qualities and non-comedogenic formula making it a great fit for anyone.

We loved the healthy look it instantly gave to the skin, and that it didn’t require a primer on top when wearing make-up.  So effortless, even the person who “hates” wearing sunscreen could find little fault wearing this.

From the first test-drives, the key standouts to us are the sheer finish, texture smoothing, hit of hydration and the weightless feel.

The only criticism would be the price, when there are other great sunscreens out there for less. However, you ultimately get what you pay for. Dr Dennis Gross is known for high performance formulas that noticeably deliver – and this is no exception.

Dr Dennis Gross is renowned for his skincare expertise and research, so while we can’t speak to the wrinkle-busting benefits just yet, we trust its longer-term claims.

La Roche-Posay has just launched a new SPF too – read our review

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.