THE BLOG
06/21/2010 11:11 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Does The Sunscreen You Use On Your Face Contain Mexoryl? French Sunscreen Does. We Swear By It.

When my wife and I both worked at home and our daughter was too young for school, travel meant Paris. These trips were free-form, but they all had the same ending --- we stocked up on Anthelios Sunscreen.

We bought this sunscreen rather than silk or cashmere because it was all but impossible to get it in America. Although the French authorities --- said to be tougher than ours --- had approved the key ingredient, a sunblock called Mexoryl, in 1993, the FDA was dragging its heels. Not only had the FDA failed to approve it, it refused to explain why.

Result: If you wanted a sunblock with Mexoryl, you either had to order it from a pharmacy in Canada, or you had to smuggle it in from France. In Canada, it was expensive; in France it was relatively cheap. That was a no-brainer --- like a great many other savvy Americans, we became smugglers.

Let the trumpets blare: In 2006, the FDA approved Mexoryl. No more smuggling. And the American price for Anthelios with Mexoryl is not dramatically higher than it is in France.

What's so great about Anthelios with Mexoryl?

Dr. Vincent DeLeo, Chairman, Department of Dermatology, Founding Director, Skin of Color Center, St. Luke's-Roosevelt and Beth Israel: "It produces a product which gives us almost perfect protection against sunshine."

Dr. Darrell Rigel, clinical professor of dermatology at New York University: Mexoryl "is the No. 1 individual ingredient in terms of protection from Ultraviolet A radiation."

You want the science? Here: "The UVB range of sunlight is 280 to 320 nanometers, and the UVA range is 320 to 400. Mexoryl sunscreens protect against UV wavelengths in the 290-400 nanometer range. Since Mexoryl doesn't cover the entire UV spectrum, it is usually combined with other active sunscreen agents such as titanium dioxide, avobenzone (stabilized with octocrylene) to ensure broad-spectrum UV protection."

And Mexoryl is convenient: It doesn't degrade in sunlight. One application, and you may be good for 24 hours --- even if you swim or exercise.

Now it gets tricky. You think: Buy the maximum strength Anthelios. That would be La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid for Face or La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Lotion.

But here's the thing: There's no Mexoryl in Anthelios 60. Makes no sense. No one I talk to can explain why.

It seems to this non-scientist that you want La Roche Posay Anthelios 50+ Fluide Extreme For Face, 1.7 Ounces with Mexoryl XL --- even though, from Amazon.com, you don't get Free Shipping and have to pay an additional $6.50 for delivery.

Around here, we also have considerable affection for La Roche-Posay Anthelios SX Daily Moisturizing Cream SPF 15 with Mexoryl SX --- which does ship free if you have Amazon Prime.

Yes, this stuff costs more than creams that protect against sunburn. The thing is, those creams don't offer long-lasting protection against Ultraviolet-A rays (UV-A). And UV-A doesn't cause sunburn --- it causes cancer.

Me, I'd rather pay more now and dramatically reduce the chance that our daughter, my wife and I get skin cancer later. And the way I figure it, I'm saving a fortune by not having to fly to Paris to get Anthelios. Though if you have a private jet and some empty seats.....

[Cross-posted by HeadButler.com]

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