Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Sunscreen Expose - Many Questions and Some Answers

It's that time of year when we start to up our sunscreen use  and for me to once again wonder why I can't get sunscreeen with  both Mexoryls here in the US.  Yes you can get a couple with  Mexoryl  SX, at a premium price, but none with both Mexoryl SX and XL.  

I've used  Garnier Ambre Solaire  for years thanks  to a trip to France, and a  friend in Australia. Mexoryl is regarded as one of the best sunscreens, far better than what we use here , it's inexpensive overseas and if  thousands  of europeans have used it safely for years, then whats the FDA's probem? They preach safe sun but keep us from the protectants that work best. ( Tinosorb is said to be another top notch , only europe ingredient).

What I am only now reading is that not only is our sunscreens less effective, but many of the ingredients have the potential to be harmful to us. Hormone disrupting ( oxybenzone)  or might actually make skin cancer more likely ( Vitamin A) . So what are we to do ? The  obvious answer at this point is mineral -physical sunscreens. Zinc and Titanium Dioxide have no harmful efffect  unless inhaled ( so I read at which brings me to powder SPF. I LOVE powder SPF since I am so oily and can up my SPF whenever I want. Now I read that inhaling zinc oxide is dangerous? Not on skin , only if inhaled. Ok.  I am hoping using a sponge  applicator will jump that hurdle because powder is my best option during the day after my initial application.

To find out more I've been doing some research . I've got part of what  has to say on ingredients and also went to Ron Robinson, founder of and also a cosmetic chemist who worked for years at companies like Avon and Estee Lauder.

First up my interview with Ron:

Q1. Why can we not get both Mexoryls here in the US? If they’ve been good enough for Europe etc. for so long and are among the best , why do we not have them ?

A. You can get it here in the US.( Note he means SX) It's been available here since 2006. It is considered to be the most effective FDA approved organic filter designed to protect against short UVA rays.

On XL he said  "the XL has not been approved by the FDA yet, so it's not available in the US. It is available in Canada and the EU countries.It is supposed to provide effective protection against both short and long UVA rays.

Q2. I’ve read that some sunscreen ingredients like Octisalate, oxybenzone and even Vitamin A can actually be harmful to us and our skin ? Is this true and do we need to worry about our sunscreen ingredients? Are there any chemicals we should avoid?

A. There was some controversy surrounding the use of Vitamin A in sunscreens. We addressed this last year with the help of our resident dermatologist, Dr. Ellen Marmur... see link...

Q3- You told me  another time that sunscreens expire one year after opening. So basically even though they now have expiration dates, if opened that isn’t the case.  It’s just one year ?

A. I recommend you follow the expiration dates listed on the individual product.


"Sunscreen makers and users in Europe have more options than in the United States. In Europe, sunscreen makers can select from among 27 chemicals for their formulations, compared to 17 in the U.S. Companies selling in Europe can add any of seven UVA filters to their products, but have a choice of only three when they market in the U.S.

European sunscreens could earn FDA’s proposed four-star top rating for UVA protection, while the best U.S. products would earn only three stars. Sunscreen chemicals approved in Europe but not by the FDA provide up to five times more UVA protection; U.S. companies have been waiting five years for FDA approval to use the same compounds. Last but not least, Europeans will find many sunscreens with strong (mandatory) UVA protection if proposed regulations in Europe are finalized. Under FDA’s current proposal, Americans will not. "  Read full story here

So where does that leave us ? I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please weigh in.

I am also looking at as many  sunscreens as I can, both new that fit the bill or ones already out there .  For face, you can read about the newest from Skinceuticals here , a good light  day moisturizer  from Omorovicza  and I have Clarins new UV Plus HP coming soon.  For body there is also a SkinCeuticals with Mexoryl SX as well as Anthelios at drugstores. These will both cost you $ 25- 30.00. I have my eye one some new mineral/physical ones and will post as soon as I get info.

Image: Seaside Park, NJ via Seaside Park.


chatchien said...

I didn't realize that it would be better to buy my sunscreen where I am vacationing, particularly if it is outside of the US. Thanks for alerting me to another ingredient to look for on the bottle label.

In the US, I have always used the Neutrogena Products with the helioplex labels. I like my SPF 90 or above.

Beauty Alchemist said...

Happy to help ( hopefully ) Chatchien. It's confusing and I am trying to make some sense of all the info. But yes, the sunscreens overseas are great. Go for the ones with both mexoryls listed SX and Xl on bottle.

If you do try them, stop back and let me know what you think.