The NIOD Survival 30 Review

From the moment I discovered NIOD early last year, I’ve dreamed of them launching an SPF product. After months of anticipation, their Survival line (sort of) launched about about two weeks ago. Due to increased testing/paperwork/general bureaucratic red tape associated with SPF, most of these products are not yet directly available for sale in the US (this is the same reason that The Ordinary foundations offered for direct sale in the US do not note SPF 15, even though it is the same formula used in Europe, which does display SPF 15 on the bottle). Currently, only Survival 0 (SPF-free) is available on Deciem’s US website. Fortunately, the wonderful folks at Victoria Health were happy to point out that they could offer worldwide shipping on these products. Anyone who knows me can attest that patience is definitely not one of my virtues, so international shipping was obviously preferable to several more months of waiting. 

This was my very first experience ordering from Victoria Health, and based on how well it went, it probably won’t be my last. After currency exchange rates and such, my order totaled about $7.50 more than if I would have ordered directly from Deciem, and that included international shipping. I placed my order on August 1 (my emailed PayPal receipt is time stamped 1:26pm EDT, so it was past business hours in Europe). I received an email the next morning that my order had been dispatched, and I had my new SPF in my hot little hands on Friday, August 11. 

I wasn’t exaggerating about being way too excited about SPF

I could not have picked a more perfect day to test Survival 30, as Josh and I had planned to attend an outdoor vegan food festival. It was a warm, partly cloudy day. 

My morning routine is excessive. I know it’s excessive, but I have no plans to change this anytime in the near future. While my bedtime skin care is a hodgepodge of trying to test and use up various products, my morning routine is pretty settled. The only variables are cleanser (I opted for Drunk Elephant Pekee Bar) and whether or not I use NIOD Mastic Must after cleansing (I did). I want to point out that although I have combo-oily skin, my morning skincare does include 3-4 drops of Sunday Riley U.F.O. Face Oil, since this could impact finish, shine, etc. That said, here’s what my skin looked like after completing my normal skincare routine, prior to applying Survival 30. 

Apologies for odd lighting, but wanted to show that I do have a bit of shine to my skin (which makes sense after using oil)

General recommendations for SPF is that 1/4 tsp should be used on your face to get advertised level of protection. This is why it’s so challenging to find a sunscreen that you can live with everyday- 1/4 tsp of almost anything on your face is going to feel awful and heavy. Some sunscreens try to counterbalance this by adding denatured alcohol to the formula (I’ve seen this in most of the Asian sunscreens I’ve tried, particularly cult favorites like Biore Watery Essence). I will be the first to admit that products that use alcohol in this way feel lovely on my skin. They feel cooling, absorb quickly, and have the immediate result of drying excess oil. However, denatured alcohol is a skin irritant, and I strongly discourage its use in skincare (important to note here that not all alcohols are bad- there are some fatty alcohols that are actually very good for skin and hair, but that’s a topic for another post). 

It takes approximately one full dropper to get the full recommended amount of Survival 30. I anticipate I will probably get about 30 applications from one bottle, which is only 1 oz. As elegant and easily absorbed as a single drop on my hand was (let’s face it, I had to sample it before it went on my face), it wasn’t quite as magical at full quantity on my face. It definitely took a few minutes to absorb fully and dry down. 

Shine slightly improved, no other noticeable changes after application

Per my normal routine, after allowing a few minutes for dry down, I finished with Hylamide Pore Delete (and a bit of lip gloss). As I stated above, patience is not my favorite virtue, so I probably should have given it a bit more time, since I wasn’t rushing out the door (like I usually am). 

Besides controlling shine and oil, Pore Delete seems to have a slight blurring effect in pics

I was already pleased with Survival 30 at this point. It played well with the products in my routine, felt light and absorbed well. Then I took this picture several hours later at the festival:

As crazy as it sounds, my skin looked and felt better after a few hours than it did when I first applied

Never have I used an SPF that actually looked better as time went on. I was pleased before, but at this point I was seriously impressed. 

My total outdoor time was about 2 1/2 hours, which is more than the recommended 2 hours before needing reapplication (this is pretty standard for any sunscreen). After that, we were inside for the rest of the day. When I was ready to wash my face that night, I had a chance to evaluate actual efficacy. Because I was horribly negligent and didn’t apply SPF to the rest of my body, I did get a good amount of redness to my arms (enough that there was a very visible line of demarcation where my sleeve ended). My face had no signs of additional redness, so I can confidently say that it protected my skin.

End of day

You can see in my end of day picture that I did end up with some shine. Considerations include that I was sweating a bit by the time I left the festival, and that I did not blot or otherwise touch-up my skin all day. I would expect that someone who did occasional touch-ups would have even better end of day results. For me, this is on par with my favorite sunscreens, particularly after being outdoors. Based on my washcloth, I can say that Survival 30 lasted on my skin all day, even after sweating. 

Final thoughts: I definitely feel like this product lived up to my expectations. Admittedly, this is a more expensive SPF product, and I understand that being a deterrent for people. The main reason I didn’t consider price a deterrent is because my two favorite sunscreens are at about the same price per ounce. As I mentioned earlier, finding a sunscreen you don’t mind applying liberally to your face every day can be a challenge (it took me about 3 years of searching to find the two that I like). Given the relatively small amount in each bottle, I probably wouldn’t consider this for daily regular use until it’s available directly in the US, but I’m definitely looking forward to when that time comes. 

Another possible consideration is that Deciem is planning to release several SPF products under The Ordinary. My understanding is that they are expected to drop in late September. I’m not sure if I will order any of these or not, but they could be worth checking out if you’re looking for budget-friendly options. 

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