La Roche-Posay (LRP) has reformulated and renamed their cult Anthelios Ultra-Light Fluid (ULF) with an SPF rating of 50+ and a PPD of 42. It is now known as the Anthelios Shaka Fluid with the same SPF rating and an increased PPD of 46. The ULF has been discontinued as of 2019.
This is a major reformulation with several formulatory changes. There were 34 ingredients in the now-discontinued ULF, and there are 22 in the Shaka. The company claims that the Shaka is lighter in consistency, is completely invisible, and will not sting if used around the eyes and on the eyelids. The company further claims that the coverage is more even, that the new formulation is more resistant to water, and that it is also reef-safe.
Let us first discuss the changes to the sunscreening agents. The previous iteration, the ULF, contained 6 'chemical' (colloquial term) or organic (scientific term) filters: Avobenzone, Octocrylene, Mexoryl XL, Uvinul T 150, Tinosorb S and Mexoryl SX.
The new iteration, the Shaka, contains 6 chemical filters as well: Octisalate, Uvinul T 150, Tinosorb S Lite Aqua, Avobenzone, Mexoryl XL, and Mexoryl SX.
Octocrylene has been dropped from the formulation and replaced with Octisalate. Everything else (with the exception of Tinosorb S) remains exactly the same, just present in different concentrations. As for Tinosorb S, it is still there, albeit in the form of Tinosorb S Lite Aqua (INCI: Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine and Acrylates/C12-22 Alkyl Methacrylate Copolymer; LRP uses C12-22 Alkyl Acrylate/Hydroxyethylacrylate Copolymer instead). For the uninitiated, there are three versions of Tinosorb S: Tinosorb S (oil-soluble), Tinosorb S Aqua (water-soluble), and Tinosorb S Lite Aqua (water-soluble). In the case of the latter two, the oil-soluble Tinosorb S gets encapsulated in microscopic polymers that allow for the ingredient to get added into the water phase, resulting in a less greasy feel.
The other formulatory changes are listed below:
1. Corn Starch has been dropped as an absorbing agent. In the ULF, corn starch was the culprit that was responsible for the white streaks that some reviewers complained about. Because this has been excluded from the Shaka, there are no white streaks whatsoever. It is well and truly invisible as the claim on the bottle states.
2. All silicones have been removed. The silicones gave the ULF a slippery feeling, and was responsible for the pilling some reviewers reported. The Shaka Fluid feels like water in comparison.
3. Tocopherol, or Vitamin E, is much higher up on the ingredients list in the Shaka.
4. Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides has been added to the Shaka.
5. Propanediol, a penetration enhancer, has been added to the Shaka.
6. Isononyl Isononanoate in the ULF has been replaced with Isopropyl Myristate in the Shaka. This is an emollient and texture enhancer that serves as the 'base' for the sunscreen filters to be incorporated into (alongside with alcohol). Anecdotal evidence suggests that this is a supposedly comedogenic ingredient, but according to the ingredient directory on Paula's Choice (quoted verbatim): "...this assessment comes from dated research that doesn’t apply to how this ingredient is used in today’s cosmetics." Make of it what you will. This formulation marks the first time I am using Isopropyl Myristate, so I cannot speak to its supposed comedogenity (especially because I regularly exfoliate and use Retin-A, so my skin turns over before it can get clogged), but if you are sure that this is a problem ingredient for you, perhaps you should steer clear of this sunscreen.
7. Phenoxyethanol, a preservative, has been removed.
8. Ethanol (Alcohol Denat). was the third ingredient in the ULF; it is now the second ingredient in the Shaka.
9. Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, a gelling agent primarily present in the cell walls of plants, has been added to the Shaka.
The Shaka Fluid is a vastly superior formulation. LRP has truly outdone itself. The ULF was spectacular in its own right, but it was disagreeable with some because of its heavy silicone content and the corn starch. The Shaka is far more watery in consistency, sinks in quicker (so quickly that you will find yourself pouring more of it out of the bottle), is perfectly tolerable around the eyes without any stinging or tearing (it is exceptionally non-irritating), leaves no white streaks, does not ball up, and leaves a satiny, demi-matte finish that is never oily or greasy. That a sunscreen that is so light in consistency can offer remarkable protection from UVA (PPD 46) is frankly unbelievable.
In my MakeupAlley review of the now-discontinued ULF, I advised people to pat the ULF on because the high silicone content left it susceptible to balling up if rubbed around. This advice can now be discarded. You can smear the Shaka all over your face like it's water.
I will end this review by quoting an excerpt from my MakeupAlley review of the now-discontinued ULF. I find that every word of it holds true for the new Shaka Fluid: "This is the best facial sunscreen in the world from 1) a cosmetological standpoint, 2) and in terms of efficacy. There is no American, Asian, or European facial sunscreen that can beat this one if you are looking for the highest UVA protection possible, but with the cosmetic elegance of a relatively low-protectant sunscreen. This is the unbeaten Godzilla of facial sunscreens. There is a reason why this is a cult product. This sunscreen, if you use it right, will freeze your face and stop the ravages of time. Hyperbole, of course, but you get the idea."
3 bottles in and a couple of months later and I have got the application process down pat. Use the skinny nozzle to draw a line on each section of your face, then rub the fluid in. This works better for me than dispensing it on my hands, since it sinks in so quickly that your hands will inevitably absorb some of the fluid.