My, this is the first time I see anything XL come in such tiny bottles! Like, shouldn’t they give you two gallons of sunscreen for that size?! *sighs*
That’s just me wishful thinking. XL has nothing to do with size. It’s all about Mexoryl, the UV filter that has all US girl hating on us Europeans (the FDA hasn’t approved it, yet so they can’t use it 🙁 ).
What Makes Mexoryl Such An Effective UV Filter?
First things first. There are two types of Mexoryl: SX (water-soluble) and XL (lipid-soluble). They were developed by L’Oreal, so you’ll usually find them in the two dozen brands they own (like La Roche Posay).
Like all UV filters, Mexoryl works by absorbing UV rays and transforming them into a less damaging form of energy (heat).
Unlike other UV filters, Mexoryl:
- Provides broad spectrum protection: it protects against both UVA-1 and UVA-2
- Stability: it’s photostable and doesn’t degrade quickly when exposed to sunlight
Translation: it provides the same broad-spectrum protection as zinc oxide without the white cast and the lightweight texture of chemical sunscreens without their instability. Awesome, right?
The catch? Mexoryl SX and Mexoryl XL work well on their own, but they truly shine together. Problem is, Mexoryl XL has an oily texture that’s not very friendly to oily skin (think shiny patches).
P.S. In the ingredient list for the Anthelios range, Mexoryl XL goes by the name Drometrizole Trisiloxane while Mexoryl SX hides under the guise of Terephthalylidene Dicamphor Sulfonic Acid.
La Roche Posay Anthelios Range
La Roche Posay Anthelios Range is the most famous range with Mexoryl. There are so many products in the range, but I’ll only cover a few today:
- Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Non-Perfumed Fluid SPF 50+ (for sensitive skin)
- Anthelios XL Anti-Shine Non-Perfumed Dry Touch Gel-Cream SPF 50+ (for combination/oily skin)
- Anthelios XL Comfort Non-Perfumed Cream SPF 50 + (for dry skin)
- Anthelios XL Anti-Shine Invisible Fresh Mist SPF 50 + (for daily touch-ups)
Can you guess which one is my fave? Or just read on and find out! 🙂
Anthelios XL Non-Perfumed Fluid SPF 50+
Just because Mexoryl is the star of the show, it doesn’t mean that’s the only UV filter used here. Nope, the Anthelios range is loaded with UV filters. This one also has:
- Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenol Triazine: aka Tinosorb S. It protects from both UVA and UVB rays and prevents other UV filters (like avobenzone) from going off too soon.
- Butyl Methodydibenzoylmethane: aka avobenzone, a very unstable UV filter. It’s absorbed by the body, so not recommended for anyone pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Ethylhexyl Triazone: another UV filter approved in the EU but not in the US. It’s water-resistant and protects against UVB rays.
- Octocrylene: a UVB filter that boosts the effectiveness of your sunscreen by helping it coating your skin better. It’s absorbed by the body, so avoid it if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. It can irritate sensitive skin, too.
To be honest, I’m a bit surprised to see so many synthetic UV filters, especially octocrylene, in a sunscreen for sensitive skin. Synthetic filters are more likely to irritate skin that zinc oxide so a mix of Mexoryl and zinc would have worked better in this case, imo.
Then, there’s the alcohol. It’s there to thin the formula and make it so lightweight, it’s almost runny. But, is that good for you? Some experts, like Paula Begoun, think it’s the devil incarnated and that it’ll seriously dry out and irritate your skin. Others, like Nicky from Future Derm think it’s totally fine.
Me? I think the truth (as always) lies somewhere in the middle. Alcohol can be drying and irritating on its own, but you can prevent these side effects if you slather on a rich, antioxidants-loaded moisturizer afterwards.
By the way, I’m not saying this sunscreen will irritate sensitive skin for sure. Sensitive skin is so personal, you never know what may trigger another bout of drama. But, if alcohol or some synthetic UV filters usually cause problems for you, this isn’t the right sunscreen for you.
My skin isn’t sensitive so the sunscreen didn’t cause any problems for me. I love its lightweight texture because it makes it so easy to apply the recommended 1/3 of a teaspoon.
When I put it on, the sunscreen has a dewy finish that looks shiny for a while. My skin is on the drier side since I moved to London so this shiny glare (a present from Mexoryl XL) disappears quickly. But if you have oily skin, you may have to put up with it for longer. Just saying…
But, you can’t fault its protection. My white skin takes on a lobster hue when the first few strong UV rays hit it. But when I’m wearing this, I don’t have to worry about sunburns (unless I forget to reapply it – I usually don’t. 🙂 ).
Anthelios XL Comfort Non-Perfumed Cream SPF 50+
This sunscreen is made especially for dry skin. It contains the same UV filter as the Ultra-Light Fluid – with one exception.
Here, octocrylene has been replaced with titanium dioxide (nano). Nano means that titanium dioxide is made so small, it’s practically invisible to the naked eye. So invisible, it won’t leave any white cast on your skin (not even in photos!).
Titanium dioxide protects from all UVB and most UVA rays and is way gentler on the skin, so it’s a better alternative to octocrylene. Oh, in case you’re worried, nope, nanoparticles don’t penetrate skin.
The sunscreen still contains alcohol to thin the formula. But, this time, the cream is a bit thicker. Think of a lightweight lotion that absorbs instantly to a dry finish.
It feels more moisturizing than the Ultra-Light Fluid, so my cheeks like it a lot more. But, its sun protection is just as excellent.
Anthelios XL Anti-Shine Non-Perfumed Dry Touch Gel-Cream SPF 50+
This has all the same UV filters as the Ultra-Light Fluid (yep, even octocrylene), plus a couple more:
- Homosalate: a weak UVB filter that degrades rapidly under the sun.
- Ethylhexyl Salicylate: aka octyl salicylate, an UVB filter with an oily texture.
There’s no alcohol in sight this time. Yay! Instead, you get a big dollop of silica, a mineral with oil absorbing properties. It soaks up excess oil so your combo/oily skin doesn’t look too shiny during the day.
Its texture lies in the middle: it’s not as lightweight and runny as the Ultra-Fluid but not as thick as the Comfort Sunscreen. It absorbs quickly and dries to a velvety matte finish.
It provides excellent sun protection like the other sunscreens but it suits my combo skin much better. Ok, my cheeks like the Comfort sunscreen more, but this one doesn’t feel tight or drying either and keeps my oily t-zone happy, too.
Anthelios Anti-Shine Invisible Fresh Mist
I usually don’t recommend spray sunscreens. You can’t see how much you apply, so how can you know if you’ve applied enough? How can you tell you if there are patches of skin you missed completely? You can’t.
Still, sunscreen mists like this aren’t completely useless. I wouldn’t rely on them alone for sun protection BUT I use them for touchups when I’m wearing makeup.
Let’s be honest here, ladies. We all know we have to reapply sunscreen every 2 or 3 hours during the day but, do you REALLY bother? Even when you have a full face of makeup on?
Of course, not. You know you should, but it’s too much work. That’s when a mist like this comes in handy. It’s completely invisible and dries to a matte finish so you can spray it on top of your makeup without ruining it.
Will you get SPF 50? Probably not, because you won’t be applying enough.
Will it protect you as well as a cream sunscreen? Probably not, and some areas of your skin may be left completely unprotected.
But, if the choice is between a spray sunscreen that offers so and so protection and no sunscreen at all, well, hand me a bottle of the spray mist, pronto!
Plus, it feels refreshing on the skin, which feels so good in this heat.
In case you’re wondering, the UV filters are homosalate, octocrylene, ethylhexyl salicylate, avibenzone, Mexoryl SX and Mexoryl XL.
Which one of these will you be trying first?