Today I was given a tube of Anthelios SX Daily Moisturizing Cream with Sunscreen. As moisturizers go, it is beyond mediocre with the usual silicones and glycerins. What makes this cream, made by La Roche-Posay, interesting is the sunscreen. It promises to offer an impressive full-spectrum protection, including UVA rays.

There are three sunscreen ingredients in Anthelios. Octocrylene for blocking UVB rays. Avobenzone for blocking UVAs. And something called Ecamsule that blocks the UVA rays that Avobenzone misses. Put them altogether and this is a sunscreen whose power to block rays leaves mineral sunscreens in the shade.

I hadn't realized until today (I attended a lecture given by L'Oreal's skin scientist at the Alliance Francaise) quite how important it is to keep UVAs away from your skin. UVBs cause burning, so for a long time sunscreens focused on those and assumed the As were relatively benign. Not so, they penetrate deeper into the epidermis and damage collagen and DNA. 95% of the UV rays that reach our skin are As and they are everywhere. Unlike Bs, they can pass through windows and clouds. They are assaulting me as I write this.

Ecamsule is also known as Mexoryl. The patents to Mexoryl are owned by L'Oreal (the parent company of La Roche-Posay). So you will only it in L'Oreal products. There is an Anthelios sunscreen as well.