Best Chemical Sunscreen: Mexoryl

 

As a rule, I generally opt for mineral sunscreens over  chemical ones. But sometimes I make an exception, especially when it comes to finding sunscreens that provide UVA protection. UVA rays are responsible for skin aging and various forms of skin cancer; basically the damage you don’t see until it’s already there. Of course UVB rays can do some real damage too; they’re the rays responsible for burns and tans. The latter may look better than the other but neither are good for maintaining skin health.

Two ingredients that are excellent at defending against UVA rays are zinc oxide and Mexoryl. Patented by the L’Oreal corporation, Mexoryl is the commercial name for a group of UV absorbers, the two most notable being Ecamsule (Mexoryl SX) and Drometrizole Trisiloxane (Mexoryl XL). Both zinc oxide and Mexoryl provide excellent UVA protection (when part of a well formulated product) compared to other active ingredients on the market

While sunscreens containing zinc oxide are increasingly easy to find, sunscreen containing Mexoryl is only available by brands owned by L’Oreal such as the famous  La Roche Posay Anthelios . Again, this is because L’oreal patented the ingredient back in the 80s.

What I like to do is apply a layer of of Anthelios SPF 30 Ultra-Light, let it set for a few minutes, and then apply a simple zinc oxide-based susncreen over top. I opt for the SPF 30 which contains the same amount of Mexoryl SX and XL but has lower percentages of other sunscreen actives such as Octocrylene and Octisalate. I’m trying to minimize how many chemicals I use on my skin. Plus, there’s the theory that a higher SPF number may do us a disservice by giving us a false sense of security, making us feel like we can bask in the sun longer without getting damaged.

I find La Roche Posay’s Anthelios SPF 30 Ultra-Light fairly wearable for the face but it can be a tad sticky, although not as sticky as their SPF 60 Melt-In Cream. Usually the stickiness goes away after several minutes.

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