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Best Pick: ANESSA Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk

Best Pick Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk

I‘m knee-deep in some proper sunscreen testing. I’ve tested budget ones and ones that require a bank loan; moisturising ones, matte ones, and ones that are perfect for afternoon top-up.

You might be asking how can I possibly try that many sunscreens and remember what the first one was like? How can I possibly tell one from another? You see, there’s a method to this. I do a split test. I cover half my face or one of my arms with a control sunscreen and then the other half tests the new stuff. It helps me to rule out isolated conditions that might affect the outcome. If I don’t wear a familiar sunscreen alongside the new one, I find it quite difficult to make objective observations about it and draw comparisons with the other products I’ve tested.

The sunscreen that I’m the most familiar with is the Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk SPF50 PA++++ from Shiseido. This is a lightweight, silky smooth-finish sunscreen fluid, and it’s virtually bulletproof. The gold-bottled Anessa has a long-standing reputation in Japan as the gold standard of sunscreens for outdoorsy activities, even after multiple reformulations over the years. I prefer it to other products in Anessa line because it sits the most smoothly and invisibly beneath makeup.

Best Pick ANESSA Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk (open)

It does speak volumes that I’ve repurchased this sunscreen (and its predecessors) countless times, almost as my “default” sunscreen. This is the one I always rely on to protect my skin (that tans easily but rarely burns) if prolonged direct sun exposure is going to be unavoidable. It has reliable protection with great durability that sets quickly into a satin finish (no matter what I have on underneath) and is reasonably priced, which is why I tend to reach for this sunscreen over other options, especially when I’m testing. I use it on both my face and body — lightweight and with no sticky or greasy residue. It is a bit OTT for just sitting in the office, but if you have combination/oily skin that is more sensitive to the sun then it’s a dream. The no-frills, flat bottle is also perfect portable packaging.

If you’re in Japan, Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk SPF50 PA++++ is readily available in drugstores. RRP for 60ml is ¥3,000 and it’s always 20–30% off at one place or another. If you’re lucky, you might even find the limited edition 90ml size for the same price. Outside of Japan, you can find it online at Amazon USA or eBay starting from $26.50+ — but be very wary of fakes. This is one Japanese drugstore product with a lot of Chinese counterfeits!

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38 Comments on Best Pick: ANESSA Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk

  1. I have tried North American Shiseido sunscreens and yes it is greasier and it feels heavier on the face (made me had acne bursts). I’m no sunscreen guru so I don’t know why. I don’t recommend it to oily skin types and definitely not as a makeup base, it clumps! But it still is a sunscreen so it serves it’s purpose.

    If I am to invest in a Shiseido sunscreen, I’d by the Japanese version, they just feel lighter and not so greasy, plus the formulation is like magic once it dries up on your skin.

    I admit that I am currently using Canmake Mermaid UV Gel 01 since I am having trouble finding the Shiseido Senka Aging Care Suncreen.

    So I am giving some thought about trying the Anessa version. Hoping it does not contain too much alcohol like the Biore UV Aqua Gel (It was great till my face started feeling dry)

    Any advices? Thank you!

  2. Thank you for your in depth reviews! Do you have a top 5 of “sport” sunscreens (I assume Anessa is at the top of the list)? My use case is surfing in the tropics, and I’m finding myself tanning despite multiple layers of physical sunscreen (retinoids for acne make my skin photo sensitive).

    Mostly looking for (1) strong UVA + UVB protection of course (2) very strong water resistance as I’m out in the water for 2+ hours at a time (3) does not sting eyes when it runs — find that oxybenzone and avobenzone sting terribly (4) prefer lack of controversial ingredients such as oxybenzone

    Not concerned at all about whitecast and how it feels on my skin. Do you think Anessa fits, and any other recommendations? Thank you so much!

    • I’m not an outdoorsy person and I don’t take up sports as a hobby but hypothetically, if I were to partake in something like that, the Anessa milk in the gold bottle (so the current formula of this) would be what I’d be using. I don’t have a top 5.

      A sunscreen’s overall formula (and how it feels on the skin) matters just as much as the UVA/UVB rating. It’s a moot point whether it has superior UV protection or not if the sunscreen is heavy, greasy, and/or unpleasant. Sunscreen needs to be applied generously but it should never be rubbed on. Even if you do manage to apply the full amount on your skin correctly (absolutely no rubbing!), it also needs to stay put in order to be fully protective. If it’s making your skin greasy, that means it’ll slip and slide off your skin.

      • Thank you! Appreciate the advice — just purchased the new formulation from a seemingly trustworthy Amazon seller. I’ll likely layer some zinc oxide on top to be extra careful when surfing. Excited to use it for just strolling around as well. Happy holidays!

  3. You mention that there are many Chinese counterfeits of Anessa sunscreens – is this the same case for Kanebo Allie sunscreens as well?

    Also, you mentioned below that there’s no 100% guarantee of getting a real Anessa sunscreen unless you purchase from Amazon Japan. Unfortunately Amazon Japan doesn’t ship Anessa to my country. Would you consider it safe to buy from an Amazon seller that ships *directly* from Japan? (I realize there’s no 100% certainty, but I’m weighing my odds and would appreciate your opinion)

    • I’d say it’s nowhere as prevalent simply due to the huge gap in popularity between the 2 brands.

      It’s about the same as eBay. Beware if the price is the same or cheaper than the suggested retail price in Japan.

      • Would you say eBay is untrustworthy for getting Anessa products, even if shipper sells directly from JP?

            • Certainly! Because those sellers are anonymous individuals, not registered businesses. If they’re based in Japan and their prices are the same as Japan’s RPP or close to it and worldwide shipping is included, they’re most likely selling counterfeits (or extremely old stocks that are unsellable). International shipping isn’t cheap in Japan!

            • To clarify, you mean if the selling price with shipping included is equal or less than Japan’s RRP?

              How much would the shipping price be if the seller is using Japan Post without tracking?

            • Equal, less than, or any amount close to RRP.

              It depends on the weight but you’ll be looking at 750-900 JPY (depending on the packing method) to ship a single 60ml bottle to the US by air. Japan Post has currently suspended some or all its services for non-printed matter to many countries due to COVID. Surface and EMS are the only services still accepted for the US.

            • By that estimation, would you expect $28-30+ USD for gels and $40+ USD for milks to be reasonable prices and anything lower to be suspicious?

            • Just about. International shipping from Japan is quite expensive! There’s no way a seller in Japan can sell the 60ml size for US$27.99 with free shipping since s/he will make little to no profit on the sale, especially once you factor in all the fees that incur once the sale is completed.

  4. Hi Ratzilla I want to ask if water resistant and sebum resistant are regulated words in Japanese sunscreens. Do they have to follow some sort of water immersion test for 20 or 40 minutes that the EU and US sunscreens have to go through to be labeled as ‘water resistant’. Also do they run any tests for the sebum resistant claim or is it an unregulated word that doesn’t need any tests backing it.

    I’m also quite curious about the UVA protection of Japanese sunscreens. Sometimes I wonder how some sunscreens like the Skin Aqua Sarafit gets a PA++++ rating with just a bit of Tinisorb S and Uvinul A Plus. The main reason I started doubting their protection is because I have seen some independent dermatologists and labs in China and Taiwan that tested Japanese and European sunscreens on humans and in labs. Their findings were that Japanese sunscreens that they tested on humans had consistently lower SPF and PA/PPD ratings than stated on the bottle. Whereas the European sunscreens seem to offer better protection and the SPF and PPD values were much closer to the claims on the bottle. A lab also measured the protection offered by the sunscreen along the entire UVB and UVA range and the Japanese sunscreens seem to have sections that didn’t provide good enough protection. Whereas European sunscreens seems to cover the entire spectrum better and there were less obvious ‘dips’ in parts of the UVA spectrum.

    I don’t think these studies were peer reviewed and published but they were done by qualified third party dermatologists and cosmetic chemists whom as far as I know don’t have much of a conflict of interest. I’m wondering if there are any studies done by third party Japanese researchers that tested the SPF and PPD of Japanese sunscreens and whether they got a similar result to the one stated on the product.

    I’m really enjoying the aesthetics of Japanese sunscreens but I wonder if that comes at a price. For instance they tested Anessa Perfect Milk to only have medium protection whereas Avene and La Roche Posay seem to have high to very high broad spectrum protection. I might switch to European sunscreens on days when I’m gonna get more sun exposure to ensure I’m wearing a product that will actually give me sufficient protection.

    • Japan requires mandatory in-vivo ISO 24444:2010 (UVB) & ISO 24442:2011 (UVA) tests for all sunscreens. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it’s currently the only region in the world that requires in vivo test for UVA protection. (Other countries recommend and do use the ISO test methods, but companies aren’t legally required to follow them.) So the SPF and PA printed on Japanese sunscreens are, in fact, the real value!

      Every spring and summer, I see newspapers, blogs, and news segments in Taiwan and Hong Kong using BASF sunscreen simulator to test and find sunscreens supposed “true” UV protection then (mis)rate them. BASF’s sunscreen simulator is not useful for evaluating the effectiveness of final products. There is no value of it unless you’re a sunscreen formulator — their results and ratings are completely pointless. I’m not sure what those Chinese and Taiwanese tests you’re referring to are but they’re clearly implying Japanese cosmetic companies are violating their own country’s laws and regulations. Personally, I find their implications incredibly ironic… China and Taiwan are known for corruption and lax regulations.

      All that being said, there’s a lot more to sunscreen than just its SPF/PA/PPD rating — the overall formula matters just as much, if not more! It’s a moot point whether it has superior UV protection or not if the formula is heavy, greasy, and/or unpleasant. Sunscreen needs to be applied generously but it should never be rubbed on. If you do manage to apply the full amount on your skin correctly (absolutely no rubbing!), it also needs to stay put in order to be fully protective. If it’s sliding around on your face, you’re not going to get anywhere close to the labelled protection.

  5. Do you know what’s the difference between Aqua Booster EX Technology and Aqua Booster Technology? What’s the EX for? According to Anessa’s website, this gold bottle is the only one with EX Technology. The other Anessa sunscreens just has Aqua Booster Technology.

  6. How can I be sure that I am using a reputable Amazon seller, I am scared of purchasing a fake product.

  7. This is by far the best sunscreen in the current Anessa lineup. The mild SPF50 is far too oily and doesn’t really set if you apply enough to get the stated spf. I wonder why the mild spf 50 can’t just be an alcohol and fragrance free version of the Perfect Skincare milk, perhaps because alcohol acts as a solvent and stabiliser or marketing decision?

    • The Mild SPF50+ is first and foremost intended for kids and babies (and this would most likely be applied on them over bare skin). Expectation needs to be very tapered if you’re using it on yourself, especially if you don’t have very sensitive skin.

      They have completely different formulas, so simply taking out the alcohol and fragrance wouldn’t automatically make it suitable for little kids. It’s actually quite a popular sunscreen for outdoorsy activities amongst mums with young kids.

  8. Thank you very much for the review. Does this leave any
    white cast? How is its finish compared to the Skin Aqua UV super moisture milk?
    Having dimethicone as the first ingredient, it makes me feel like it will be
    similar to the mild version which I have tried that never really sets and remains
    silicone-y all day long sliding around and transferring to whatever touches my

    • Yeah that product feels like spreading facial oil over skin that never really sets. The Perfect Skincare milk feels a lot nicer as it sets to a slightly shiny transfer resistant primer like finish. If you don’t like the feel of dimethicone or cyclopentasiloxane I think the Allie gels are better. They have similar UV filters and feel more like moisturising cream that sets to a transfer proof semi matte finish.

    • There’s no white cast, at least not that I can tell on my fairly light skin. Skin Aqua UV Super Moisture Milk is nice for the price, but for me, it’s a no-go when it’s hot and humid.

      The Mild version is first and foremost intended for kids and babies. I think expectation needs to be very tapered if you’re using it on yourself, especially if you don’t have very sensitive skin. I don’t care for it for my face, but it’s also not formulated to suit my needs or skin type either.

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