In Sight: Stopping the Sun

Ecamsule (INCI: Terephthalylidene dicamphor sulfonic acid), also known as Mexoryl SX, has been used in the formulation of sun care products in Europe, Canada and other parts of the world since 1993, but only recently did it appear in a US skin care. Just this summer, Anthelios SX, a moisturizer containing the sunscreen ingredient, patented by L’Oréal, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for US distribution. Since that time, product manufacturers and skin care professionals have taken significant interest in the ingredient because of its full-spectrum of protection. Although there may be excitement surrounding the ingredient, however, its formulation in a skin care product other than the approved formulation remains prohibited.

Many dermatologists are excited that the ingredient formulation was approved, Leslie Lucchina, MD, being one of them. Lucchina is a dermatologist at the Boston Center and finds the new sunscreen ingredient to be innovative. “Mexoryl SX is the latest and greatest in sun protection,” said Lucchina. “People have been waiting for this to be approved.”

Mexoryl SX is an active that, when added to skin care products, filters out UVA rays. According to L’Oréal, ingredients available for formulation in sun products previously have filtered UVA rays; however, those ingredients were not photo-stable. “The thing that makes [Mexoryl] unique is its photostability,” said Lucchina. “It doesn’t degrade when it is exposed to light and is incredibly stable when exposed to the sun.”

Although UVB rays cause sunburn, it is the UVA rays that cause long-term damage such as wrinkles and some types of skin cancer. “Most people think about UVB rays as being the problem in terms of sun exposure. In reality, UVA accounts for over 80% of the damage that occurs to the skin in terms of aging, DNA damage and ultimately skin cancer,” said Darrell Rigel, MD, in a L’Oréal press release. Therefore, the ability of the ingredient to protect against UVA rays while remaining photo-stable gives it the potential to provide products with full-spectrum protection.

The improvement in sun protection, according to Lucchina, will benefit her patients and people across the country. “A lot of the sunburns we see are due to a combination of things: not using the correct amount of sunscreen, not using the correct SPF and not reapplying often enough,” explained Lucchina. Although the benefits of the ingredient may not be seen immediately, the possibility of fewer wrinkles and decreased risk of skin cancer provides value for the future.

Lucchina finds the future of ecamsule to be promising. “I believe that a lot of companies will start to put the ingredient into other modes of use. For example, they will include it in face lotions and foundations,” said Lucchina. Currently, however, companies other than L’Oréal are not approved to formulate with the ingredient.

Another benefit that the ingredient might have in the future, according to Lucchina, is its protection for those with photosensitivity. “This will be great for the individuals with a disease such as lupus that makes them sensitive to light. They often come back from being in the sun with a red, itchy rash, and Mexoryl SX will be great for treating things like that,” said Lucchina.

L’Oréal intends to launch other products containing ecamsule or Mexoryl SX. The company reportedly plans to introduce other daily moisturizing products containing ecamsule in some of its other brands in addition to announcing more sunscreen formulations containing the ingredient.

With global warming ever-increasing the penetration of the sun, the emergence of sun care innovation is not only beneficial but vital. Many have high hopes for ecamsule, but as of now, it scope remains limited.

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