Paula's Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer with SPF 30 review

Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer with SPF 30 isn’t a moisturiser with SPF. It’s a moisturising sunscreen.

This isn’t just semantics. You need a ton of product (one third of a teaspoon for your face + neck) to reach the SPF level stated on the bottle.

With a sunscreen, you know you need that much. With a moisturiser, you tend to use way less. Now you’ve compromised your sun protection and let yourself open to sun damage.

Shame. When used as the sunscreen that it is, Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer with SPF 30 provides excellent protection from both the sun and pollution. Here’s how it does it:

What’s In Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer With SPF 30?


If you’re a regular here, you know zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are my fave UV filters. Here’s what makes these two white minerals so special:

While we’re on the subject, mineral filters like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide work just like chemical filters: they absorb UV rays and transform them into a less damaging form of heat (energy). The difference? Mineral UV filters also reflect and scatter away a small amount of UV rays. They do double duty. 🙂

The catch? Mineral filters can be thick, greasy and leave a ghostly white cast on the skin. Not this one. The texture here is as elegant as can be.

Related: Mineral Vs Chemical Sunscreen: Which One Should You Choose?


Pollution and UV rays both cause free radicals, the nasty molecules that destroy collagen, elastin, cellular DNA… They’re the nasty buggers that make you age prematurely.

Enter antioxidants. Think of them as your skin’s police. They patrol your skin looking for free radicals. When they spot one, they neutralise it before they can wreak too much damage.

The more antioxidants your skin has, the better. Thankfully, Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer With SPF 30 is loaded with them. Here are the highlights:

Related: The Most Common Antioxidants Used In Skincare: Which One Is Best For You?

Struggling to put together a skincare routine that minimises wrinkles, prevents premature aging, and gives your complexion a youthful glow? Download your FREE “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):


Lightweight, creamy, more emollient than Paula’s Choice Resist Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense. Dries to a glowy finish.

Related: My Full Review Of Paula’s Choice Resist Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense


It’s fragrance-free.

How To Use It

It’s the last step of your morning skincare routine. Apply generously all over exposed areas of skin and reapply as needed during the day.

Performance & Personal Opinion

Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer With SPF 30 has a wonderful texture: it’s creamy without being heavy, glowy without being disco-bally, and hydrating without leaving a greasy residue on.

It blends into the skin effortlessly, making it easy to pile it on as needed. It’ll never feel like a greasy mess on your skin. And, while the tint isn’t enough to cover imperfections, it ensures there’s no white cast left on your skin.

Did I mention it works well under makeup? No matter what I paired it with, I never experienced any pilling. Instead, it provides a hydrating and illuminating canvas that makes your skin look fresh and bright.

The sunscreen also does a wonderful job at protecting my skin from UV rays for most of the year. I say most because, on hot summer days when temperatures reach 25ºC or higher, I switch to a SPF 50.

The rest of the time, this does just fine. The addition of so many antioxidants also makes me feel safe against pollution, a constant threat here in London. *sighs*

The only drawback? This isn’t waterproof. If you sweat a lot or do sports, this isn’t the best option for you.

Paula's Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30

Who Is This For?

Anyone can use it, but it’s more suitable for dry and sensitive skin types.

Who Is This NOT For?

  • Oily skin. The glowy finish may make your skin look too shiny.
  • If you’re looking for a waterproof sunscreen, this isn’t for you.


A coral tube that’s both practical and pretty. I have the travel size for now, but love this so much, I’ll be buying the full size soon.

Does Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer With SPF 30 Live Up To Its Claims?

This illuminating moisturizer shields skin with all-mineral sun protection plus antioxidants to help protect against the effects of environmental damage.  True. But it’s a sunscreen, not a moisturiser.
Creates an instant, healthy glow for makeup-optional skin. True.
Lightweight, illuminating cream. True.
12 antioxidants visibly diminish the signs of environment-based aging. Antioxidants prevent wrinkles, they don’t reduce those you already have.

Price & Availability

$29.00/£30.00 at Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Nordstrom, and Paula’s Choice

Do You Need It?

If you’re looking for a moisturising sunscreen for your dry skin, this is an excellent option to consider.

Dupes & Alternatives

I haven’t found another moisturising, tinted mineral sunscreen with such an elegant texture yet.


Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 5.25%; Zinc Oxide 6.12%. Inactive Ingredients: Water, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate (emollient), Glycerin (skin-replenishing), Isononyl Isononanoate (emollient), Butylene Glycol (texture enhancer), Cetearyl Alcohol (emollient/texture enhancer), Potassium Cetyl Phosphate (emulsifier), Dimethicone (hydration), Glyceryl Stearate (texture enhancer), Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract (skin-soothing), Actinidia Chinensis (Kiwi) Fruit Extract (antioxidant), Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil (non-fragrant antioxidant plant oil), Tetrapeptide-30, Linoleic Acid (skin-restoring agents), Resveratrol (antioxidant), Ascorbyl Glucoside (vitamin C/antioxidant), Niacinamide (skin-restoring), Tocopheryl Acetate (vitamin E/antioxidant), Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (vitamin C/antioxidant), Bisabolol (skin-soothing), Tocopherol (vitamin E/antioxidant), Phospholipids, Lecithin (skin-restoring agents), Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterols (antioxidant/hydration), Xanthophylls (antioxidant), Pullulan (texture enhancer), Sodium Gluconate (hydration), Xanthan Gum, Sclerotium Gum, Alumina (texture enhancers), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (skin-replenishing), Citric Acid (pH adjuster), Triethoxycaprylylsilane (texture enhancer), C13-14 Isoparaffin (solvent), Acrylates Copolymer (film-forming agent), Polyhydroxystearic Acid (dispersing agent), Caprylyl Glycol (hydration), Polyacrylamide (film-forming agent), Ceteareth-20, Aluminum Stearate (texture enhancers), Laureth-7 (emulsifier), Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol (preservatives).