I basically called my mom for help. Except when I say mom, I mean an esthetician.
Remember the Sunscreen Innovation Act from two years ago? If you don't, let me remind you.
The 2014 bill, unanimously passed by the senate, mandated that the FDA get a move on in reviewing eight sunscreen ingredients that had been submitted for approval for use in the US. Some of these ingredients had been waiting for review for 12 years, y'all, and have been widely available in European sunscreens for just as long.
I, for one, was excited to get to stop bootlegging my sunscreen from European import sites. But once the FDA was forced to review the ingredients in a timely manner, they rejected all eight for lack of sufficient data proving their safety.
Back in 2006, the FDA approved L'Oreal to use one of these ingredients, ecamsule, also marketed as Mexoryl, at a low concentration in a very limited number of products. They launched about a half a dozen sunscreens containing 2% Mexoryl and then gradually discontinued them until only one remained: La Roche-Posay Anthelios SX.
Mexoryl is such a helpful sunscreen ingredient because it provides more complete protection against UVA rays than avobenzone, the US's more common chemical filter. UVA rays, which are primarily responsible for photoaging (and skin cancer) fall in the wavelengths between 400 and 320 nanometers. While avobenzone protects against wavelengths between 340 and 400 nm, Mexoryl fills in the gap, protecting against wavelengths between 320 and 340, giving you more complete protection.
If avobenzone is those crappy beige blinds that come standard in Midwestern apartments, avobenzone plus Mexoryl is a gorgeous, velvety blackout curtain.
This superior protection is what makes Anthelios SX my HG sunblock. As someone who deals with hyperpigmentation on the regular, I can tell that it's effective by how quickly my dark spots fade. I also love it because it doesn't feel sticky or leave a white cast. It's also super-moisturizing.
The bad news? Because of the restrictions on how much ecamsule can be used in a product in the US, this sunscreen only has an SPF of 15. On my brown skin, that's enough protection for daily use. But for days when I'll be outdoors, I still have to layer it under something with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Still, until sunscreen manufacturers can provide the evidence the FDA needs to prove that these filters are safe for use (and they don't specify what evidence that is), Anthelios SX is the best we've got.
- Have you ever tried a sunscreen with Mexoryl?
- How many shady mail forwarding services would you be willing to go through to get your hands on better sunscreens?
- But seriously, melanoma is no joke. Sunscreen up.