Since 1989, L'Oreal has been the parent company of LaRoche Posay (source). Now, I'm also a huge proponent of super effective sunscreens, so you would think that this combination could do no wrong.
Unfortunately, I disagree with the company's choice to make the newest LaRoche Posay sunscreen, LaRoche Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Fluide Extreme, more in line with the rest of the formulas created by L'Oreal. Instead of using the ultra-effective active ingredient Mexoryl (ecamsule), which has been legal for use in the U.S. since 2006, the company instead formulated LaRoche Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Fluide Extreme with less stable (and less UVA protective) ingredients that include approximately 3% avobenzone, 10% homosalate, 3% octisalate, 6% octocrylene, and 4% oxybenzone. Ug.
So which formula should I use?
It is harder to find, but you need to use LaRoche Posay Anthelios Face Fluide Extreme SPF 50 instead of the Ultra Light SPF 60 variety. It has been a favorite of derms (and one of mine!) for years.
What is Mexoryl? Why does it make such a huge difference?
Mexoryl (ecamsule) is an ingredient in chemical sunscreens that has been available in Europe for decades, and which came to the U.S. only in 2007.
Mexoryl is available in two forms, SX (water soluble) and XL (lipid soluble).
Both forms of Mexoryl are very effective for two reasons: First, Mexoryl is very stable. When compared to chemical sunscreens like oxybenzone and methoxycinnamate, Mexoryl is surprisingly stable in the presence of light, heat, and air.
Second, Mexoryl absorbs light at a broader range of UVA wavelengths than many other sunscreens. After absorbing light from a very broad portion of the spectrum, Mexoryl transfers this damaging UVA form of light into small, safe amounts of heat as it lays on top of your skin. (Amazing!)
Why is UVA protection important?
Long wavelength UVA rays contribute significantly to signs of aging. On the other hand, shorter wavelength UVB rays contribute more to immediate factors, like sunburn, irritation, and rash.
At this time, products in the U.S. do not quantify the amount of UVA protection in a product.
In Europe, there are the IPD (Immediate Pigment Darkening assay) and the PFA or PPD (Persistent Pigment Darkening assay) are used to assess UVA protection. In a 2004 study by Moyal, it was demonstrated that products containing Mexoryl had higher UVA protection than sunscreens without Mexoryl based upon the PFA/PPD assay.
Should I Use Mexoryl SX or Mexoryl XL?
Interestingly enough, Mexoryl SX and Mexoryl XL are even more stable than each alone. If your skin can handle it, you should use both.
However, Mexoryl XL is often too oily for some with sensitive or oily/acne-prone skin.
For that reason, Mexoryl SX is the only form found in most products, including selected L'Oréal products sold in the U.S. since 2006, like the Revitalift line. However, in this product, both Mexoryl SX and Mexoryl XL are included.
As a part of a skin care regimen...
LaRoche Posay Anthelios Face Fluide Extreme SPF 50 is best for those but the most oily/acne-prone skin types. The lightweight, yet creamy/milky formula may be a bit too hydrating for those with oily/acne-prone skin.
For those with normal, normal/dry, and dry skin types, cleanse your face each morning. Follow with a toner (optional) and antioxidant serum. I recommend a serum with at least 15% vitamin C and 1% vitamin E, which has been shown in independent research studies to boost UV protection.
Afterward, liberally apply LaRoche Posay Anthelios Face Fluide Extreme SPF 50. Begin in the center of your face, dotting your forehead, nose, cupid's bow of your lip, and chin, and stroking the formula outward.
Although you may not be thinking of sunscreen year-round, think again: Damaging UV rays can bounce off of the opaque snow, right onto your face. Furthermore, studies have shown 62.8% of UV rays penetrate through car and home windows, contributing to the majority of cumulative sun damage year-round. With that said, you really do need to be wearing sunscreen every single day, even in the winter.
What are the ingredients?
Full list of ingredients: Aqua, Isododecane, Isononyl isononanoate, Alcohol denat., Dicaprylyl carbonate, Cyclohexasiloxane, Octocrylene, Titanium dioxide, Isocetyl stearate, Glycerin, Butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, Styrene/acrylates copolymer, PEG-30 dipolyhydroxystearate, Bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Silica, Caprylyl glycol, Cassia alata leaf extract, Disodium EDTA, Disteardimonium hectorite, Dodecene, Drometrizole trisiloxane, Ethylhexyl triazone, Isopropyl lauroyl sarcosinate, Lauryl peg/ppg-18/18 methicone, Maltodextrin, Phenoxyethanol, Poloxamer 407, Poly c10-30 alkyl acrylate, Propylene carbonate, Terephthalylidene dicamphor sulfonic acid, Tocopherol, Triethanolamine
Don't just buy any LaRoche Posay sunscreen. If you want all of the benefits of this well-touted brand, select only LaRoche Posay Anthelios Face Fluide Extreme SPF 50, or other formulations from the brand that may appear with Mexoryl (ecamsule). Do not buy the varieties with oxybenzone, avobenzone, homosalate, and other non-Mexoryl chemical sunscreen ingredients, because then you might as well buy the much cheaper Neutrogena sunscreens!