Jul 302010

I am always on the hunt for something to completely block the sun.  I happen to enjoy when those in my life tell me that my skin looks glowing, or when someone expresses genuine shock when I tell them my actual age (well, not really enjoy that last one, but you get the picture).  I live on the West Coast of the U.S, where the sun can be unforgivingly bright for months at a time–we will not see clouds until September or October, I’m guessing.  When Lisa Eldridge’s Sun Screen video recommended Institute Estederm’s Photo Reverse (60 euros for 1.6 ounces) as the sunblock that she personally uses when she visits sunny Italy, I knew I had to try it.

Institut Esthederm is a French brand that began during the 1970’s and, according to their website, employs over 30 scientists to develop new products.  Their philosophy:

The skin is a living organ of the human body composed or cells that are programmed to regenerate for 120 years. Institut Esthederm’s research is based upon the conviction that cutaneous ageing is not inevitable, and accordingly all of Institut Esthederm’s producrts are developed to maintain the skin in its optimal state as it evolves. The skin is an active organ that has all the inner resources needed to be well-balanced. Institut Esthederm’s products are made from patented actives that specifically help re-educate the skin so that it can learn to power itself by restarting its life cycle. The skin is a fragile organ that is connected both to the body and to the affects its good functioning. Institut Esthederm products, made from tested, traceable and selected actives, act on the skin while respecting its particularities and its environment. This is cutaneous ecology.

As Eldridge’s video points out, Institut Esthederm does not have SPF ratings on its products.  Instead, Photo Reverse is advertised as “No Sun” product (the tube says simply, “Prohibited Sunlight”). According to the packaging, Photo Reverse “encourages the skin’s adaptation and protection against the sun” so I suppose SPF ratings do not really make sense for them.  Other products in Institute Esthederm’s line allow some sun exposure; Photo Reverse is said to block it all.

Formerly, I thought that only physical sunscreens were effective for blocking sun to prevent dark patches from getting darker.  I’ve been using Photo Reverse for a few weeks, and so far I love it.  It is a white liquid that disappears on the skin.  Although advertised as water and sweat resistant, Institut Esthederm recommends re-application every two hours.  Photo Reverse has a very emollient feel, it leaves my skin with a very moisturized glow. I’ve been using powder over it to knock it down.  It does sit well under either liquid or powder foundations, but leave a good 20 minutes after application before applying to let it sink into the skin.  It looks better on the skin that the physical sunscreen that I had been using.  If I am going to be poolside for an hour or more, I supplement my protection with an SPF-rated hat from Outdoor Research.

Results:  So far, so good.  No sun means no sun–my skin looks lighter and brighter since I started to use Photo Reverse.  This is the most effective sun screen that I have ever used, and yes I’ve used ones that are marked SPF 100.  Some darker patches look faded, although they are not completely gone.  I’m excited to keep using the product to see what happens.  I have confidence that if I am going to be out for a while, this will block the sun if anything can.

Where to buy:  Institute Ethederm seems to be sold everywhere in Paris, including Sephora, Galleries Lafayette department store, and little beauty shops sprinkled throughout the city.  I paid 60 euros for this at Galleries Lafayette.  I was unable to locate a U.S. source, although perhaps some of my readers have a spa or boutique nearby that carries it and can post hints in the comments. Other Instute Ethederm products can be shipped within the U.S. from other sources that I found through a Google search–for example, Cult Beauty ships worldwide.

Ingredients:  Water, Dicapryl Carbonate, Octocylene, Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl, Tetramethylbutylphenol, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Dipropylene Gycol, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triasine, Gyceril Stearate, Hydroxypropyl Dimethicone Behenate, PEG-100 Stearate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Palmaria Palmata Extract, Andrographis Panicaluta Leaf Extract, Artemia Extract, Carnosine, Algae Extract, Disodium Adenosine Triphosphate, Hexapeptide-2, Decyl Glucoside C20-22 Alkyl Phosphate, C20-22 Alcohols, Xanthan Gum, Gutylene Glycol, Propolene Glycol, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Discodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide.

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