The terrible truth about American sunscreens

I’m so sorry to make this post and video. I wish I could tell otherwise but I’m here to give my best advice so in a nutshell, American sunscreens are far from being optimal especially in 2019 and here is why. 

If you are not new to my blog or/and youtube channel you will have noticed that I’ve never reviewed American sunscreens. 

In the United States sunscreens are regulated by the FDA and not as simple skincare. Therefore, laboratories have to pay a lot of money to show that their UV filters are safe… Hence, all the newest filters are still not available in the USA.  

UVB filters in the United States  

As a quick reminder, the SPF indicated the degree of protection against sunburn (here to know more). We know that sunburn is mainly due to UVB and to a lower extent UVA. Hence the highest the SPF is the less UVB is transmitted to the skin. Higher SPF provides some UVA protection but that’s far from being optimal hence the need for the UVA protection factor. 

In the United States, only « old » UVB filters are available which restrain the choice for the consumers especially if you are sensitive to one UVB filter. To achieve a high SPF (I always recommend SPF50+) a blend of UVB filters is required. In general, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, Zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide are the main filters found. So basically if you can’t use those filters you are screwed and has to use mineral sunscreens. 

The new filters such as Iscotrizinol, Tinosorb S, Tinosorb M, Uvinul T150 are for example banned in the USA. There are highly photostable, less problematic for sensitive skin and some of them are broad spectrum. It also helps to have a better texture. 

In terms of protection, in the USA the SPF is a bit different from the worldwide norma but that’s not a problem. They are all fairly similar. 

UVA filters in the United States

Here is the saddest part. UVA is divided into UVAII and UVAI. Having high UVA protection will protect your skin from unnecessary aging. Especially UVAI is the UVA rays that penetrate the deepest in the skin and grilled our collagen, produced free radicals… If you want to keep your skin in young mode strong UVA protection is very important. 

Excellent sunscreens have to protect against the full spectrum UVB, UVAII, and UVAI. In the USA only 3 filters against UVAI are available, avobenzone, Zinc oxide, and Mexoryl SX. Mexoryl SX is unfortunately only used by l’Oreal. The La Roche Posay Anthelios SX SPF15 moisturizer is the only American sunscreen that I know of that used Mexoryl SX and it’s only SPF15 which I do not recommend. 

Typically the UVAI protection in USA sunscreens are achieved with zinc oxide or avobenzone and here are the problems: 

-Avobenzone is not photostable and degrades upon UV exposure. You have to hope that it is properly stabilized in the sunscreen that you buy. 

-Zinc oxide has a white cast and a lot is required to achieve « proper » UVA protection and the dispersion has to be excellent. 

-Avobenzone and Zinc oxide cannot be mixed to achieve higher UVA protection because it destabilizes avobenzone. 

Last but not least, all USA sunscreens have to be broad-spectrum (UVB, UVAII, UVAI) but it is a pass or failed method. There is not required of a minimum of UVA protection like in Asian or in the EU. 

My recommendation

If you are in the USA, I encourage you to use Asian sunscreen (SPF50+ PA++++). Lots of them are easy to find on amazon.com or on Yestyle. If you prefer to use American sunscreens opt for Zinc oxide based sunscreens. 

You can watch my video to know more as always.  

Thank you for your time. 

Cyrille 

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