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Why I Have Anthelios XL 50+ Sunblock And You Don't


I buy it by the dozen, and Vichy undereye stuff, too, in Paris

The best sunscreen protection out there is offered by a chemical called Mexoryl, but while Europeans enjoyed its protection for the past decade, it wasn't allowed on the American market. Did a single European drop dead from using it? I don't believe so. No, they simply got to avoid skin cancer and the aging effects of the sun. And meanwhile, the FDA has yet to update their 30-year-old regulations for sunblock, as the science surrounding skin and cancer has expanded dramatically, writes Natasha Singer for The New York Times:

Critics have clamored for the F.D.A to update the rules, saying that the standards have not kept pace. At the same time, they complain, the agency has allowed manufacturers to make vague and improbable-sounding marketing claims, leaving consumers confused and, worse, misled about what to use and how to use it to protect themselves.

The pressure on the agency has been mounting in recent weeks. Last month, reports by Consumer Reports and by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit group in Washington, found that a variety of popular sunscreens lacked sufficient broad protection against the sun’s harmful rays. And in May, Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut’s attorney general, sent a scathing petition to the F.D.A. saying that unclear sunscreen labels and inflated marketing put people at risk.

“Most sunscreens are deceptively and misleadingly labeled, most perniciously to give consumers a false sense of security,” Mr. Blumenthal said last week. “In my view, the F.D.A.’s failure to act is unconscionable and unjustifiable in any public sense.”

John Bailey, the executive vice president for science at the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, an industry trade group, said that the directions on sunscreens adequately convey coverage. “These are very beneficial products which should be used to protect against the adverse effects of sunlight,” said Dr. Bailey, who has a Ph.D. in chemistry.

Nonetheless, the F.D.A. seems poised to address the labeling issue. Although it has been planning since 1999 to confirm new rules, Rita Chappelle, a spokeswoman for the F.D.A., said the agency expected to issue new sunscreen standards in the coming weeks. But until they are released, Ms. Chappelle said the agency would not answer questions about forthcoming regulations.

One fact about sunscreens is indisputable: They can impede sunburn and lower the incidence of at least one form of skin cancer in humans.

And make you look like a lot less of an old bag. A few weeks ago, I called L'Oreal/Anthelios flack Jennifer Jones, and she wouldn't tell me whether higher numbers of Anthelios than SPF15 (which is currently all you can legally buy in the States) will soon be available...but it sounded like she was hinting that there's something in the approval process.

In the meantime, you can either get Anthelios XL 50+ (pour visage -- for face) at Zitomer Pharmacy in Manhattan, or buy it in bulk in France, like I do. Of course, what I pay about $10 for in France, you'll pay $39 for at Zitomer, plus shipping. The price of buying illegal "drugs," you know? (Hey, isn't pot cheaper?)

More of my posts on Anthelios and the silly FDA here.

Posted by aalkon at July 6, 2007 12:41 PM


I find it hard to believe that any part of the Bush administration would be lacking in competence or regard for science.

Posted by: Jon Tyken at July 6, 2007 8:20 AM

It doesn't have to cost quite so much to buy locally. I
bought Ombrelle (SPF 60), which has the same active ingredients,
from Feelbest in Canada. About $20 (Canadian) each. And yes,
they do mail order.

Update: a quick look at their web site seems to indicate
they no longer sell Ombrelle. They do sell the Anthelios for
about $25 U.S.

Posted by: Ron at July 6, 2007 10:49 AM

According to my dermatologist, the new active ingredient in the Neutrogena 70 SPF, "Helioplex" is just as effective as Meroxyl. Still doesn't explain why the FDA won't approve Meroxyl here, tho.

Posted by: deja pseu at July 6, 2007 11:17 AM

I find it hard to believe that any part of the Bush administration would be lacking in competence or regard for science.

It has nothing to do with the Bush administration. The FDA is an entrenched bureaucracy that trascends all administrations.

Posted by: kishke at July 6, 2007 11:19 AM

This is why I'm always amazed when Democrats argue for more government, bigger government, etc. Bureaucracy is very often the one thing standing in the way of progress or just sensible policy.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 6, 2007 11:39 AM

It has nothing to do with the Bush administration. The FDA is an entrenched bureaucracy that trascends all administrations.

Yeah, I'm gonna have to cop to a cheap shot there.

Posted by: Jon Tyken at July 6, 2007 2:23 PM

when I was in France in 2002, I purchased some Vichy astringent for my face. I wondered if the taint of the 'Vichy' name from WW2 had disappeared or maybe it never existed. The astringent was excellent, btw.

Posted by: moe99 at July 6, 2007 10:09 PM

Thanks for all the info. I just bought exactly what is illustrated (the SPF 60, the one on the right) at the Shoppers Drug Mart in Toronto. Total cost including taxes for 100 ml was $29.00.

Next time you're Canada, you can pop into one of these stores (they are everywhere). It's not as cheap as Paris, but at least you can get it.

Posted by: Chrissy at July 7, 2007 3:59 PM

Or if you don't have a passport, you could ask someone who is planning to attend Carabana, which I believe takes place in August, to pick some up for you.

Posted by: Chrissy at July 9, 2007 4:14 PM

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