American women "in the know" are clamoring for Mexoryl, the miracle sunscreen ingredient considered to be one of the most effective filters of all wavelengths of ultraviolet light. The product has been a key ingredient in sunscreen lotions for more than a decade all over the world, including Europe, Asia, Canada, and South America. Mexoryl is currently illegal in the United States because it has not yet received FDA approval, but it is easy to purchase online.

A recent New York Times article titled "Psst! This Stuff Keeps You Young, but It's Illegal" reported on the sunscreen Mexoryl SX, made by the Paris-based skin-care giant L'Oréal. Mexoryl is also available in Ombrelle Extreme, Garnier's Ambre Solaire, or the coveted Anthélios XL by La Roche-Posay. The article tells readers how to buy these products online from Canadian or French pharmacies, like feelbest.com, or on eBay.

So far the Food and Drug Administration has approved only three ingredients protective against UVA: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and avobenzone (trade name Parsol 1789).
But Mexoryl seems more effective than any of these at protecting against UVA light. It is hard to tell whether Mexoryl will make it to the United States market anytime soon. A L'Oréal spokesperson said the company has 'initiated a process of discussion with the F.D.A. regarding Mexoryl and is continuing to work closely with the F.D.A.'

One of the reasons for Mexoryl's effectiveness is that it is very "photostable" compared with other UVA filters, which tend to decompose when exposed to sunlight. American suntan lotions, while good at screening out the sun's UVB rays, don't offer much protection against UVA rays. 'Ultraviolet A light ages your skin, says Dr. Darrell Rigel, clinical professor of dermatology at New York University. "And the reason it does that, it's a longer wavelength, so it can penetrate deeper into the skin... You get the lines, the wrinkles, all the things associated from aging." Mexoryl 'is the No. 1 individual ingredient in terms of protection from Ultraviolet A radiation,' Rigel said.

"Safety is not an issue, said Dr. Rigel. 'It's just bureaucracy." Although buying or selling sunscreens with Mexoryl is illegal in the United States, you can still find it at some pharmacies. 'People really want this stuff. People go to pharmacies and they keep it under the counter, like it's a secret ingredient, like prohibition or something and people will still buy it,' Rigel said. "Everyone is always telling us, protect yourself from the sun, but then the government won't give us permission to have the best sunscreen? Give me a break."