La Roche Posay SPF 50+ Anthelios XL Ultra-light Spray Review

I spent this past week in Maui where I ate a lot of shaved iced and spent a lot of time napping on beaches and very occasionally going into the water. I don’t love the effects of the sun on skin aging and damage, but I love the way it warms my body and turns off my overly anxious, mildly neurotic brain.

This spray from La Roche Posay is the primary sunscreen I used for UV protection. Definitely not perfect, but did a good enough job to warrant a review. Let’s have a look!

Disclaimer: This item was purchased by me. All opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing an item through an affiliate link does not add any cost to the customer but does help support this site’s upkeep.

Product Name
La Roche Posay 50+ SPF Ultra-light Anthelios XL Spray

The Claim
Sensitive and sun intolerant skin. Very water-resistant. Non-perfumed. Paraben-free.

Country of Origin

Where does it fit in your routine?
Apply after all skincare and before makeup.

Size and Price
200 ml. I purchased mine from Care to Beauty where it retails for $~32 but is frequently on sale (I purchased for $26 a few months ago and it is currently on sale for $20). Also available on EBay.

This is where the sunscreen is supposed to come it, but both the nozzle and tube inside the nozzle are super prone to clogging.

White, plastic spray bottle. The spray nozzle got clogged almost immediately, and so to use I would just unscrew the nozzle top and pour sunscreen out.

No added fragrance. Does have generic sunscreen smell, but not strong.

Color and texture
Sunscreen is white in color and very fluid cream like in texture. It’s very spreadable at first but settles/dries very QUICKLY.
As this contains no physical filters, there is not a traditional white cast but it does leave a whitish sheen on my skin. As long as the sunscreen is distributed evenly, this sheen is not very noticeable. However, as mentioned earlier this sunscreen dries quickly and tends to clump/coagulate in areas that are difficult to spread sunscreen on quickly. The white sheen is very noticeable where this happens.


Sunscreen swatches on the left. Center image shows bottom hand with sunscreen applied compared to top hand without sunscreen in natural sunlight. Right image shows the same hand situation in indoor lighting. As you can see, once dry the sunscreen does not have a white cast but does change the way light reflects off skin and manifests as a whitish “sheen.”


img_0945Full Ingredients:
Aqua/Water, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Alcohol Denat., Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Drometrizole Trisiloxane, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Ethylhexyl Triazone, Polyester-5, Acrylates Copolymer, Caprylyl Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Ethylenediamine/Stearyl Dimer Dilinoleate Copolymer, Isopropyl Lauroyl Sarcosinate, PEG-8 Laurate, Terephthalylidene Dicamphor Sulfonic Acid, Tocopherol, Triethanolamine

UV Filters

  • Octisalate (listed as Ethylhexyl Salicylate)
  • Tinosorb S (listed as Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine)
  • Mexoryl XL (listed as Drometrizole Trisiloxane)
  • Avobenzone (listed as Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane)
  • Uvinul T150 (listed as Ethylhexyl Triazone)
  • Ecamsule (listed as Terephthalylidene Dicamphor Sulfonic Acid)

Reef/Ocean friendly?
Maybe. This sunscreen does not contain any ingredients I have read to be linked with coral bleaching (which are oxybenzone, butyl paraben, octinoxate, enzacamene, nano zinc oxide, and nano titanium dioxide).
Octisalate and avobenzone are shown to have a negligent or no effect on coral. As far as I know, Tinosorb S, Mexoryl XL, Uvinul T150, and Ecamsule have not been directly tested for reef-safety. Ecamsule makes me a little nervous since it contains dicamphor, and enzacamene, another UV filter that is a camphor derivative, does result in coral bleaching.

Blocks UVB (280nm-320nm) Rays?
Yes. Octisalate (EHS in graphs below), Tinosorb S (BEMT), and Uvinul T150 (EHT) provide good coverage of UV rays in this range.

Blocks UVA1 (340nm-400nm) and UVA2 (320nm-340nm)?
Yes. Tinosorb S (BEMT), Mexoryl XL (DTS), Avobenzone (BMDBM), and Ecamsule (TDSA) provide coverage from UV rays in this wavelength range. Once the wavelength nears 400nm, there really are not a lot of filters that are super effective but avobenzone is one of the best filters for UVA rays in general. The problem with avobenzone, of course, is that it is notoriously unstable, but the inclusion of other filters, notably Tinosorb S, help stabilize avobenzone.


Source. Originally from DOI: 10.1039/b9pp00178f

User Experience

Things I like about this sunscreen:

  • Excellent mix of UV filters
  • No white cast
  • Impressive water resistance. Once dry, this sunscreen grips onto skin really well and seems to stay on even in ocean water (although the water in Maui was pretty calm at the beaches we went to)
  • Non-irritating and fragrance-free. Did not cause eye stinging, which I think is a testament to the water-resistance of the sunscreen because vey little (if any) washed off/melted into my eyes

This sunscreen also seems to work well, used in the right amounts. I have minimal tanning on my body despite generous sun exposure over the past week. My hyperpigmentation from former breakouts, which are prone to darkening with sun exposure haven’t really gotten any more noticeable. My SO, who is much paler than I am and burns very easily, is still pasty white on the parts of his body where I applied sunscreen (shoulders, neck, back). He has some flushing (minor sunburns) on his arm where he applied the sunscreen himself, but I’m chalking that one up to user error. Despite my protests to the contrary, he still thinks sunscreen needs to be “rubbed in” (which just means he’s applying too thinly and likely rubbing some sunscreen off).

Speaking of rubbing, this takes me to the biggest negative of this sunscreen. Out of the bottle, this sunscreen is fluid and fairly lightweight. However, as mentioned earlier, it dries quickly and is designed to grip onto skin. This is good for water resistance but makes it tricky to apply. Too much rubbing and the sunscreen actually starts to clump and ball up. If I don’t pat the sunscreen in fast enough, it settles into white streaks that once formed are difficult to spread. Although this sunscreen is gentle enough to use on my face, it is really difficult, if not impossible, to make it look good. On vacation in Hawaii, I don’t really care too much if my sunscreen looks streaky and visible, but I don’t see myself using this in any circumstance that requires brushed hair and real clothes.

Overall, I would buy this again for beach usage. If I hiked or jogged outdoors, I’d imagine this sunscreen would be good to use too.

Overall rating: 3.7/5

2 thoughts on “La Roche Posay SPF 50+ Anthelios XL Ultra-light Spray Review

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