When it comes to sunscreen, people want it all: great protection; easy application; and a light, non-greasy feel. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen (Est. $10 for 3 oz.) and Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Ultra Radiance (Est. $9 for 8 oz.) both fit the bill, experts say.
Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Ultra Radiance is actually selected by Cosmopolitan as the best sunscreen all around, as it features moisturizing shea butter as well as protecting against harmful UV rays. It's non-greasy too, say Paula Beguon and reviewers at Amazon.com. Beguon adds that it's good for those with acne-prone skin. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch offers similar benefits, say reviewers, who find it lightweight and non-greasy. Beguon gives Neutrogena a higher rating overall than Hawaiian Tropic and says that the matte formula is especially great for those with oily skin (though it may be too drying for those with dry skin). MakeupAlley.com reviewers echo these sentiments, saying that the sunscreen is lightweight and absorbs easily into skin.
While they both feel great, they smell very different. Neutrogena -- while fragranced -- doesn't have a distinctive scent that reviewers mention. Hawaiian Tropic is also fragranced but is widely praised for its "pina colada scent." For those who prefer a more understated scent, Hawaiian Tropic wouldn't be the best bet, though several owners do say they love the smell.
More important than the scent is whether and how well the product protects against sun exposure. Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen is available in SPFs 15, 30 and 50, while Neutrogena sunscreen is available in 30, 45, 55, 70, 85 and 100+.
Neutrogena is rated water-resistant up to 80 minutes and Hawaiian Tropic is not water-resistant, but that seems to make no difference in their reported protection ability in user reviews. One Amazon.com reviewer of the Neutrogena formula says it isn't truly waterproof, while Hawaiian Tropic reviewers say they actually wore their sunscreen in the water and didn't get burned later.
Both sunscreens rely on active ingredients avobenzone and oxybenzone. Environmental Working Group (EWG) lists oxybenzone as a high-hazard ingredient that is absorbed into the body and may be capable of cellular-level changes. Because of this, both sunscreens get an overall hazard rating of 5 or moderate from EWG. However, at GoodGuide.com, Neutrogena gets poorer marks, with health ratings between 2 and 4 (out of 10, where 1 is bad and 10 is good). Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch formulas get health ratings between 8 and 10, as all potentially harmful ingredients are below threshold amounts.
All things considered, while both sunscreens are good, Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Ultra Radiance has a few clear advantages over Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch. It has a scent that owners love, has lower concentrations of some harmful ingredients and uses the same key ingredients with no discernibly different protection, according to user reviewers. It also is both moisturizing and good for oily and acne-prone skin, whereas Neutrogena may not be best for dry skin.