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Is La Roche-Posay a good sunscreen?

With summer in full swing, sun protection is more important than ever. One popular sunscreen brand, La Roche-Posay, offers a wide range of sunscreen products. But is La Roche-Posay a good choice for sun protection? Here’s a detailed look at the pros and cons of La Roche-Posay sunscreens.

What is La Roche-Posay?

La Roche-Posay is a French skincare brand owned by L’Oréal. It was founded in 1975 by a French dermatologist who utilized the La Roche-Posay thermal spring water in skincare formulations. The brand is recommended by over 90,000 dermatologists worldwide and focuses on sensitive skin products.

La Roche-Posay offers four main types of sunscreens:

  • Mineral sunscreens
  • Chemical sunscreens
  • Anthelios sunscreens
  • Melt-in sunscreens

Within each category, there are numerous options with different SPF levels, finishes, and skin types in mind. La Roche-Posay sunscreens aim to provide very high UVA/UVB protection, soothing antioxidant ingredients, and a comfortable texture.

Pros of La Roche-Posay Sunscreens

Here are some of the positives of using La Roche-Posay sunscreen products:

High levels of broad spectrum protection

All La Roche-Posay sunscreens provide broad spectrum SPF protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Their sunscreens are rated SPF 30 to SPF 100, with most options SPF 50+. This provides very high protection against sunburn, skin aging, and skin cancer risks.

Modern, photostable UV filters

La Roche-Posay uses more updated, photostable next generation UV filters like Mexoryl and Cell-Ox Shield. These provide more stable protection versus older filters like avobenzone which can become less effective with sun exposure and oxidative reactions.

Good for sensitive skin

Most La Roche-Posay sunscreens are formulated to be gentle for sensitive and allergy-prone skin. They are fragrance-free, paraben-free, and use La Roche-Posay’s signature thermal spring water to soothe and calm the skin.

Light textures that don’t feel greasy

A common complaint with sunscreen is a thick, greasy feel. Many La Roche-Posay sunscreens go on light and have a fast-absorbing, non-greasy finish. Their melt-in milk sunscreens in particular have a silky texture.

Multiple options for face and body

La Roche-Posay offers not just sunscreens designed for the face, but also larger volume and sport options suitable for the body. This makes it easy to find the right texture and level of protection.

Good value for money

While not the absolute cheapest, La Roche-Posay sunscreens provide very high protection levels and quality ingredients at an affordable price point. Ounce for ounce, they offer good value compared to prestige skincare lines.

Cons of La Roche-Posay Sunscreens

However, La Roche-Posay sunscreen products aren’t perfect. Here are some potential drawbacks to consider:

Limited tinted options

Those looking for tinted sunscreen may be disappointed. La Roche-Posay has only one lightly tinted sunscreen option as most of their sunscreens have a white cast.

Not reef safe

La Roche-Posay sunscreens use chemical filters like avobenzone and octocrylene that can harm coral reefs. They are not a good choice for ocean activities.

Can be drying

The high concentration of UV filters may cause some flaking or drying out of the skin, especially with repeated reapplication. Keeping skin well moisturized underneath can help.

Stinging eyes

Some users report stinging, watery eyes after applying La Roche-Posay sunscreens on the face. Using a formula meant for the face rather than body can reduce eye irritation.

White cast

The mineral sunscreens and higher SPF options may leave a white cast on darker skin tones. Opting for a chemical sunscreen with lower SPF can help minimize white cast issues.


While not exorbitantly expensive, La Roche-Posay sunscreens do cost more than drugstore brands. The price may be prohibitive for some shoppers who need to regularly purchase and reapply sunscreen products.

How Does It Compare to Other Brands?

How does La Roche-Posay measure up against competitors in the sunscreen space? Here’s an overview:

Brand Pros Cons
La Roche-Posay
  • High UVA/UVB protection
  • Modern UV filters
  • Good for sensitive skin
  • Limited tinted options
  • Not reef safe
  • Can be drying
  • Affordable pricing
  • Large size options
  • Several sport formulas
  • Lower SPF levels
  • Thick, greasy textures
  • Limited sensitive skin options
  • Great for face
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Reef safe mineral options
  • Few body sunscreen choices
  • Expensive
  • Can pill under makeup
  • Fun, innovative formulas
  • Many tinted options
  • Rosé scent
  • Very expensive
  • Not water/sweat resistant
  • Limited coverage

In summary, La Roche-Posay provides very high sun protection using quality ingredients, but is more limited when it comes to cosmetic elegance and budget friendliness compared to other popular sunscreen brands.

What Dermatologists Say About La Roche-Posay

Dermatologists often recommend La Roche-Posay sunscreens for their very high UVA/UVB protection and suitability for sensitive skin. However, some derms do note a few downsides.

According to Dr. Rachel Nazarian, a Manhattan dermatologist, “The high concentration of newer chemical filters [in La Roche-Posay sunscreens] make them photostable, so they don’t degrade in sunlight.” She adds that “they have a light feel compared to zinc-based sunscreens.”

However, New York dermatologist Dr. Hadley King points out, “The downside is that chemical filters can be irritating and are not reef-safe. They also contain alcohol pretty high up on the ingredients list, which can be drying and irritating.”

Miami dermatologist Dr. S. Manjula Jegasothy sums it up: “La Roche-Posay sunscreens provide superb broad spectrum protection and generally go on sheer without leaving a white cast. I recommend them for most skin types including those with sensitivity – just avoid the product going into eyes.”

Ingredient Analysis

On the whole, La Roche-Posay sunscreens are formulated with evidence-based UV filters at high concentrations along with antioxidants and skin-soothing botanicals.

Active ingredients usually include:

  • Avobenzone – Provides UVA protection but can be unstable
  • Homosalate – Absorbs UVB rays
  • Octisalate – Absorbs UVB rays
  • Octocrylene – Absorbs UVA/UVB rays but may be coral toxic
  • Oxybenzone – Provides broad spectrum protection but potential hormone disruption concerns
  • Mexoryl SX (ecamsule) – Photostable UVA protection
  • Mexoryl XL (tinasorb) – Photostable broad spectrum protection
  • Tinosorb M – Photostable UVA filter
  • Zinc oxide/Titanium dioxide – Non-irritating mineral SPF

These are combined with antioxidants like vitamin E, soothing La Roche-Posay thermal spring water, silicone for blurring, and alcohol/acrylate polymers to create a fast absorbing texture.

Some dermatologists prefer sunscreens with only mineral active ingredients like zinc oxide. However, La Roche-Posay balances newer chemical filters with mineral SPF to provide very high, broad spectrum protection.


Overall, La Roche-Posay sunscreens provide exceptional UVA/UVB protection using high quality, photostable filters ideal for sensitive skin types. While they are not the most cosmetically elegant or budget-friendly choice, their very high SPF ratings and modern UV filter combinations make them quite effective.

For those able to splurge and looking for robust sun protection suitable for face and body, La Roche-Posay is an excellent sunscreen brand recommended by dermatologists worldwide. Just be sure to apply properly and reapply sufficiently for reliable coverage against sun damage.