Japanese Sunscreens – Why to use them, where to buy and my top 5.
Well summer’s almost here and it’s time to step up your sunscreen game if you haven’t done so already. Sun damage is the leading cause of premature skin ageing as well as the cause (or exacerbator) of uneven skin pigmentation such as age spots, freckles and acne scars.
I often recommend using Japanese-made sunscreens on this blog and there’s a very good reason why. Asian skin tends to be slightly oilier than most, add that to high humidity weather and you have an environment for very oily skin.
Since having both even toned and matte-looking skin is held in high-esteem in Asian cosmetic culture, it’s important for companies to produce effective, high protection sunscreens that have a very light texture and control oil production too.
These sunscreens are perfect for guys who’re looking for sunscreens that aren’t a chore to use and, in my opinion, the texture and finish of these sunscreens blow western ones right out of the water.
So, which ones should you try? Read on for my recommendations!
Firstly i’ll start by saying that all of these sunscreens have a PA rating of +++, this means they have a PPD of at least 8 to 10 – perfect for day-to-day sun exposure unless you’re very prone to melanoma or live very close to the equator. There’s no real way of telling exact PPDs (beyond them being at least 8 to 10) as Japanese companies are reluctant to release exact quantities.
Secondly the ones i’ve chosen are mostly mattifying sunscreens as men tend to have oilier skin in general. If you’d like to have me review a few moisturising ones, just send me an email and i’ll get right on it.
On to the sunscreens!
Sofina Perfect UV Lucent Sunscreen
I’ve reviewed this sunscreen before and it’s still a favourite of mine. It’s light, very watery and very very mattifying. I’d go as far as to tell guys to avoid this unless they have particularly shiny looking skin. This slightly dried out my normal skin with an oily t-zone because it’s so mattifying but it was excellent on a friend with oily skin.
Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen AA
This is the latest release from Shiseido’s line of sunscreens in Asia, Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen AA contains more chemical sun filters than most Japanese lines – most notably Tinosorb – which probably makes this one of the highest protection Japanese sunscreens you can find.
It’s everything you could expect from an Asian sunscreen; light, watery and mattifying.
Kao Biore Perfect Face Milk SPF50
This is a drugstore sunscreen that’s far less costly than the ones above yet retains that same desirable matte/light finish. It’s a great starter product if you’re buying your first one and has a large fan base.
Kanebo Allie Precious Barrier Sunscreen Water Touch N SPF50
This sunscreen from Kanebo is slightly more moisturising than the others in this list, hence ‘Water Touch’. This is unscented, has the texture of skimmed milk and dries down to a semi-matte finish. It’s very light and non greasy like all Japanese sunscreens but it provides your skin with a touch more moisture than most of the other ones. Great for skin that’s a little bit dry or those that find the other sunscreens in this list a bit too mattifying for them.
Mentholatum Sunplay Clear Water SPF 50
This is another cheap option and a great in-between product that I find myself reaching for quite often. It’s not as mattifying as Anessa, Sofina and Biore but not as moisturising as the semi matte Kanebo. This very runny lotion sits right between the two and provides the perfect balance between oil control and moisture for my normal to combination skin.
And that concludes my Top 5 Japanese sunscreens!
A few things to note when using Japanese sunscreens:
- Due to the zinc content in these sunscreens, they can be tricky to wash off. My preferred method is by using cleansing oil (click here and scroll down to find out what a cleansing oil is and how it works) but a thorough wash with warm water should be able to do it as well. If you wash your face and the water forms droplets all over your face rather than just a regular wet film, it means you haven’t got it all off
- If you have tanned skin, these sunscreens may look a little white on you initially. This effect seems to dissapate after half an hour or so but if not, you can always mix in a little blob of liquid bronzer to get rid of the white cast. My favourite is the one from Clinique for Men.
- Avoid any Japanese sunscreens that have the word pearly, nuance, bright or white in their names – that usually indicates a very white cast, shimmer or pink tint to the sunscreen.
- All of these contain alcohol, that’s what makes them so matte and quick to dry so avoid them if you’re sensitive to alcohol in skincare or if you have dry skin.
If you’re looking for a place to buy Japanese sunscreens, I highly recommend Ichibankao. They stock all the ones I mentioned (apart from the Mentholatum one which you can grab on eBay) and since they’re based in Japan you can be sure you’re getting fresh stock. Prices are listed in Yen so you’ll have to use a currency converter but everything’s in English, worldwide shipping is included in the price and you can pay through PayPal. I usually receive my products from them about 10 working days after ordering which isn’t bad at all! Oh and you can also grab a bottle of the fantastic Fancl Mild Cleansing Oil there too.
Failing that there are dozens of other retailers you could purchase from such as adambeauty (which has tracked delivery and $2 worldwide postage), a quick google or eBay search should provide you with a lot of options!
In conclusion, I highly recommend you try one of these if you dislike wearing sunscreen or if you have oily skin – Japanese sunscreens will completely change the way you think of sunscreen in general, that’s a SCforM promise!