In Japan, there is only one name that has been synonymous with sun protection for the last 100 years — Shiseido. The cosmetic company were the first in Japan to use SPF and UVA (PFA) ratings on sunscreens. They launched Anessa in 1992 and it was the first Japanese sunscreen brand that was specifically made for the beach. Its name is from the Japanese word “nessa” (熱砂) which means “hot sand”.
According to Intage market research’s sales data, Anessa have been Japan’s top-selling sunscreen brand for 2 consecutive decades. Their flagship product, the Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk has just had an upgrade. Some might wonder why Japanese companies are always tinkering with formulas. It makes perfect sense to update formulas and make sure that products reflect the latest in trends, research, and technology.
Shall we start with what was so brilliant about the original version? You can read the full review, but to recap: it’s a virtually bulletproof sunscreen fluid with a silky-smooth finish that manages to still feel lightweight whilst sitting beautifully directly beneath makeup.
It was good. So much so that it’s the only sunscreen I rely on when doing outdoorsy typed things in the summer. But I do think that Anessa have managed to improve on the original with the “new” 2022 formula. In a direct comparison, I found that the new formula is ever so slightly more natural and hydrating in feel and a smidgen more lightweight.
Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk N’s durability is exemplary; it’s even better than the original, despite the fluid feeling even more comfortable on the skin. It really does survive heat and humidity. After 8 hours in 32°C weather (half that time underneath a KF94 mask), there was still visible evidence that sunscreen is still firmly on the skin.
There was also none of the dryness that you might usually find with a long-wear sunscreen fluid. Some of them can cling to dry, flaky patches if you don’t prep your skin well. Others slowly dry out the skin as time goes by. Not a problem with Skincare Milk N. It leaves my skin perfectly prepped, smooth but not powdery or arid.
Who will love this? I honestly think that it will suit most skin types. It gives superb, durable protection without feeling sticky and greasy or like you’ve been coated with a thin layer of liquid chalk. It’s octinoxate (and oxybenzone)-free for those who need their sunscreens to comply with certain regional regulations. This does contain fragrance. I’m not complaining, because I’d much rather deal with a subtle fragrance that dissipates than put up with an unpleasant chemical odour.
You can find ANESSA Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk N in drugstores across Japan — RRP is ¥3,000 for 60ml and it’s always 25–30% off at one chain or another. It’s US$25 for 60ml at YesStyle. Shake it well before you use it and apply generously. Don’t confuse it with the old version that a lot of stockists still seem to be selling.
I love this new version sooo much! I only use it for my face (I use separate sunscreens for my neck and limbs). I finish off with Johnson’s baby powder to tone down the shine and mattify my face. I already have two backups of this because Anessa had a BOGO promo last 11-11.
Off-topic, but what SPF lip balm(s) do you recommend? I’m concerned about my lips thinning in the future due to sun damage, but I’m not sure if I should be as anal-retentive about high protection as my face (I normally use SPF 50+ on facial skin). Only SPF lip balm I like so far is SPF 20, US broad spectrum (no verified UVA rating) and I’m not sure that’s enough.
You’re not going to find Japanese SPF lip balms with that much high UV protection due to health and safety regulations. Most (especially the newer) UV filters aren’t permitted in leave-on cosmetic products that can come into contact with the mucous membrane.
I recommend using whatever lip product with SPF that you enjoy using the most. I like Mentholatum Melty Cream Lip and Nivea Rich Care & Colour.
Does Anessa sold in Singapore have the same ingredients as in Japan? I see some reviews of Anessa from Singaporean bloggers, as well as a bunch of international bloggers who buy it on YesStyle and Stylevana (Hong Kong-based, I think) and I wonder if those reviews are accurate if I want to buy directly from Japan.
Yes. Shiseido markets Anessa along with their other premium beauty products and brands throughout South East Asia and they actually have an R&D center located in Singapore.
I find the fragrance of this new version is off putting compared with the previous formula. Also it doesn’t set as fast, it feels like you are putting on Mild Milk.
This is a deal breaker for me. It sets like the mild milk?? I need it to set high UVA sunscreens that are sticky. If Anessa is now like mild milk version it won’t work
Would love to hear more about what your experience was
That really shows how incredibly subjective sunscreen is! I actually prefer this new fragrance over the old one. I also find it more lightweight and sets just a smidge faster yet more natural in feel. On my skin, it’s nothing like the Mild Milk.
It’s humbling to use a sunscreen almost as old as I am! I’m waiting for my order of the new version to arrive. If it’s anything like the 2020 version, it should be great.
What do you mean by “visible evidence” of it still being on skin after 8 hours? How can you tell if it’s completely invisible and feels like nothing on skin?
This (and its predecessor) doesn’t feel like nothing is on the skin. There is a distinct difference between my bare skin and where I’ve applied sunscreen — it feels like there’s a (transparent) silky smooth film over the skin. Water also rolls off the skin differently.
how do you like the gel version?
I personally prefer Allie for gel and Anessa milk.