I’m a zinc oxide fan girl. If a sunscreen doesn’t have it, I won’t even look at it twice.

But, I get it. Not all of you want to put up with its greasy feel and whitish cast. But, what’s the alternative?

Titanium dioxide’s just as bad (I mean good, I mean bad, I mean… you know what I mean).

Avobenzone isn’t reliable. Goes bad quickly and could irritate your skin to boot.

Tinosorb is hard to hunt down.

We’ve kinda run out of UVA filters already…

Wait, there’s another option. It’s still tricky to track down in the US (Us Europeans have it SO much easier), but it does the job well without leaving a white, greasy mess on your face.

Meet Mexoryl.

What Is Mexoryl?

There are two types of Mexoryl. Mexoryl SX (water-soluble) and Mexoryl XL (lipid soluble). 

Mexoryl XL tends to have an oily texture that’s not oily-skin friendly, so it’s not used as much. Shame, because when it’s paired with its sibling, they both become more effective.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to Mexoryl SX. It’s a synthetic UVA filter developed by L’Oreal. You’ll find it on the label under different names:

  • Ecamsule
  • Trephthalylidene dicamphor sulfonic acid

Related: What Are The Best UV Filters?

Is your sunscreen up to the job? Download your FREE “Sunscreen Audit” checklist to find out if your sunscreen is both effective AND safe:

What Does Mexoryl Do?

Ok, it’s a UVA filter. It absorbs UV light and transforms it into a less damaging form of energy (heat). But, what makes it better than other UVA filters?

Basically, it offers the same UVA protection as zinc oxide, but it’s more pleasant to use. The catch? It needs to be used with other UVB filters.

Related: Why Zinc Oxide Is My Fave UV Filter

Why Is It So Difficult To Find Mexoryl In The US?

You know how you always like to complain the FDA doesn’t protect you enough? Well, it may be a bit slack on cosmetics, but it’s pretty strict on drugs. Sunscreen is a drug (you can check out my post about the difference between a cosmetic and a drug here).

Cosmetics are approved quickly. Drugs must undergo extensive testings to make sure they won’t kill you. It takes a looong time. Some UV filters have been waiting for approval for more than 12 years! This, even though they’ve been freely available in Europe all this time.

But, there’s a backdoor.

A company can petition the FDA to approve a new UV filter as part of a New Drug Application. It’s super expensive and it limits the types of formulas you can use it in so few companies bother with it.

L’Oreal did bother. In 2006, armed with data from Europe, Canada and other corners of the globe, it petitioned the FDA for approval of their patented UV filter “Ecamsule”. It won.

The catch? Well, as I mentioned, L’Oreal (and the many brands it owns) can use it only in very few products and they’re expensive (someone must pay that hefty FDA fee). So… Mexoryl hasn’t exactly taken hold in the US… On the contrary, every year it gets harder to find. 😉

What Are The Best Sunscreens With Mexoryl?

This is tricky:

  1. There aren’t many options available.
  2. Some of them still contain avobenzone and other UVA filters.
  3. Most of them are loaded with alcohol.

So, rather than the best, I’ll tell you where you can start your search. Deal?

  • Biotherm Creme Solaire Anti-Age SPF 30 (€24,70): available at Sephora France
  • La Roche Posay Anthelios SX Daily Moisturizing Cream With Sunscreens ($33.99):available at Dermstore and Ulta
  • La Roche Posay Anthelios XL Ultra Light Fluid SPF50+ (£11.60): available at Feel Unique and Look Fantastic

The Bottom Line

It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? Here you have a wonderful UVA filter that works without side effects and it’s super hard to find! Let’s hope things change soon. I’m tired of putting up with poorly formulated sunscreens, aren’t you?