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My Top 5 SPF50+ PA++++ Japanese Sunscreens for 2017

Only new 2017 launches need apply!

IIt’s time for my 7th annual Japanese sunscreens ranking. I’ve chosen a variety of formulas for all budgets that I think suit a wide audience in this year’s run-down of my top five newly released SPF50+ PA++++ sunscreens of 2017.

Having normal (and very resilient) skin allows me to test a large variety of sunscreens, however what suits my skin/lifestyle/personal preference might be terrible for yours so please be sensible when following recommendations.

Details of each of the Japanese sunscreens are linked below. If you missed last year’s top picks, you can check it out here. So check out my picks below (in no particular order).

1) Parasola Illumi Skin UV Essence

Warm weather is here and if you hunting for products that will get your legs into presentable condition lightning fast, then this colour-correcting sunscreen should be on the to-try list. I dub this “K-pop idol legs” in a tube. It’s loaded with good-for-skin ingredients (3 types of vitamin C, Job’s tears, ceramide, and hyaluronic acid just to name a few!) to make sure skin is fully moisturised and healthy looking. Its blue-lavender tint and luminising effect really do noticeably brighten up skin tone and create the illusion of slimmer legs. (You can use this sunscreen on the face — I haven’t done so — but it’s really intended for your limbs.)

2) NIVEA SUN Creme Care UV Cream

Think of this as a rich, nourishing, dry-skin moisturiser cream with added sun protection. It makes your skin all plump and supple, and gives it a gentle youthful sheen that sits beautifully underneath makeup. The superb UV protection is the icing on the cake! If you hate Nivea Creme’s signature scent, this isn’t for you — this smells exactly it.

NIVEA Sun Creme Care UV Cream

3) Sports Beauty UVWear Super Smooth

A sunscreen milk that gives superb long-lasting UV protection that is suitable for everyday wear and the outdoors. True to its claim, it absorbs super quickly, feels unexpectedly lightweight, and leaves a really silky-smooth finish yet it doesn’t feel drying on the skin.

4) ACSEINE Super Sunshield Bright Veil

Acseine makes brilliant alcohol/chemical-free sunscreens for drier, sensitive skin, but since I only pick from new launches for my annual top list, it sadly, until now, never had any qualifying contenders. This is the same as Japan’s cult favourite Super Sunshield EX — very lightweight, non-sticky, non-greasy, waterproof — but with an amped up instant skin-perfecting effect. Its soft-focus pigments blurs the surface and gives that “lit from within” effect. (Hover over image below for ingredients.)

5) Skin Aqua UV Super Moisture Milk

This has an invisible finish and a to-the-point formula that ideally suited for drier skin. It’s not as lightweight as the Sports Beauty sunscreen mentioned above, but it does have a more hydrating feel. If you have no problem with dryness, you may find that you can skip moisturiser altogether.

ROHTO SKIN AQUA UV Super Moisture Milk

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43 Comments on My Top 5 SPF50+ PA++++ Japanese Sunscreens for 2017

  1. Hello, I live in the USA and would like to purchase the Acsceine sunscreen you recommended but the page is in Japanese when I try to find stockists. can you help?

  2. Can you please recommend for me a moisturizer with built in sun screen for oily and sensitive skin?

  3. Hi there,
    Do you prefer Acseine Bright Veil over EX ? Which one is better in your opinion and why ? Are there any differences in shade? I’d love to hear your opinion.

    • I prefer the Bright Veil simply because for its skin perfecting effect. If you have fairly good skin, you can get away with using it on its own. Sunshield EX feels more or less the same but without the instant beautifying effect. It’s tinted as well but it doesn’t make a difference.

  4. Hi, love your blog! Is the Acesine sweat and sebum proof? I didn’t see a proper review on your site. On the Japanese site, it says that it is waterproof. Is this the equivalent of sweat and sebum proof? Thanks and keep up the good work!

    • No, water, sweat, and sebum all have different compositions. They’re not the same. The Acesine is targeted at dry, sensitive skin — it doesn’t claim to be resistant to sweat or sebum.

  5. Hey, Ratzilla! Love your sunscreen reviews- thanks so much for creating this site! I’ve found some favorites thanks to you!

    Do you know much about the Japanese formulation of the Shiseido wetforce sunscreens? I am currently using up my bottle now of the US version, but have heard the Japanese formula contains different filters that aren’t available here and has less of a whitecast.

    • Shiseido International “WetForce” suncare line is marketed and sold as an imported brand in Japan (just like Dior and Lancome). It’s more expensive in Japan than the US. It isn’t really that popular, probably because of that price. It’s hard to justify paying nearly 5,000 JPY for a 60ml bottle when Anessa (Shiseido’s drugstore suncare brand) use the same techologies and have very similar formulas for significantly less.

      Yes, the filters used are different.

  6. When purchasing Japanese sunscreens, what is a good way to determine weather they are intended for daily wear vs outdoor use? I live in Florida and have very fair skin, so I feel that, for the most part, daily wear or “incidental exposure” sunscreens aren’t enough protection. I know that the Anessa line is supposed to be very good for use outdoors, especially when it comes to water activities, however I’ve also heard that it wears very heavily. I am looking for something I can wear every day, sometimes under makeup, that falls somewhere between an incidental exposure and a full-on water sport sunscreen. If you have any suggestions, I would appreciate them.

    • Japanese sunscreens formulated for sports/outdoors activities are always labelled as such by the manufacturer (in Japanese, of course)— if it doesn’t say so, it’s not suitable. There’s no guess work or analysing ingredients/formula involved. My site generally includes this info.

  7. Thanks for this list! I always enjoy reading about what new sunscreens are available and I’m looking forward to trying out some of these. Especially the sports beauty as I’ve been looking for something to wear when I will be outside for some time.

    I’ve been using Japanese sunscreens for a number of years now and typically go through them fairly quickly so I never worry about “expiration dates.” But I just found a tube of sunscreen stashed in the back of my cupboard so I looked up the manufacturing date. It’s a couple of years old and I’m questioning whether or not I should still rely on it. I’ve heard that 3 years is the standard time that sunscreen are supposed to be good for, but not sure if this is reliable information? Do you know where I can find some official information regarding the length of time after manufacture that sunscreens are expected to be effective for? Thank you so much! 🙂

    • Standard shelf life for cosmetics is generally 3 years from the time it was manufactured unless noted by the company. Once opened, it should be finished within 6 months-1 year unless stated otherwise. Fancl, for example, state their sunscreens have a shelf life of 2 years (and 90 days onced opened).

  8. Hi there!
    What is the best product for everyday sun protection… and then also when I’m on vacay or doing summer outdoor activities, a stronger formulation?

    I have very light skin with dark melasma patches for over 10 years now, and despite my zinc wearing obsession, (best I’ve found is eltamd) my skin has still darkened in splotchy patches anytime I’m in the sun and in winter they do lighten a tad but never go away!

    I’ve tried HQ and a myriad of products and even BBL laser, ACV and lemon, and nothing really gets rid of these spots!
    I need something that is really going to block those UVA rays & so I need PPD protection!
    Also,
    Is there anything that can truly fade my melasma and whiten/bleach those splotches & help brighten my skin?

    What is the best mandelic products?

    {I have slightly dry skin prone to acne as well…)

    Please help….
    CC

    • That is really individual and hard to answer, especially since I don’t have the same skin as you. The best sunscreen is the one that you’ll actually use correctly and generously — whatever that may be. Perhaps take a look at one of the sunscreens featured above or from previous years. I’ve also written about some sunscreens that I personally like (as well as ones I feel neutral about or don’t care for) in past reviews.

      • Thanks, I’ll review the ones above. I’m just looking for one with a high PA rating that is not thick as I apply foundation over the top…. As far as skin lightening, are there any products you could recommend?

        • Majority sunscreens that I’ve written detailed reviews or featured in my annual top sunscreen lists have the maximum SPF and PA ratings.

    • elta md does not have enough zinc in it to help honestly the only cure for melisma is staying out of the sun completely or a physical cover like a hat with face flaps look on coolibar for that also you need something like 20% or more zinc like shiseido babies and children I avoid the sun like the plague and this is the only one that does give me some protection

  9. Thank you for your great reviews, I’m always glad to have a vague guideline for buying new sunscreens. That being said I saw you talking about the recommended amount of sunscreen you apply doesn’t need to be a quarter teaspoon.

    This makes me curious, how much do you normally use for your face? I know that the 1/4 “rule” is a bit tricky since everyone’s skin surface differs in size but I always thought better safe than sorry and slapped it all on my face. Could it be that you don’t need to apply that much when it comes to Japanese sunscreens?

    • The correct amount to get the UV protection indicated is 2.0 mg/cm2, but despite popular belief, this doesn’t equate to 1/4 tsp on the face. What that actual works out to completely depends on the consistency of the product and the face size. You may actually need significantly more (or less).

      I’ve commented in depth about this topic before in other comment threads in the site, so I’ll link to them instead. Do read through this http://disq.us/p/xl9st2 and http://disq.us/p/1ecph6q

  10. Hi! Love the ranking, as usual (the SportsBeauty is definitely going on my wishlist). I was wondering though if you could recommend a sunscreen similar to the now-discontinued Shiseido Anessa Perfect Essence Sunscreen?

  11. Hi there,
    Would you be able to post a list with the top physical only sunscreens? Or is there already such a post on here?
    Thanks for your reply in advance!

    • There isn’t a list of my top physical only sunscreens. Currently, I don’t have plans in doing one simply because ones I truly like using are few and far between.

      The Acseine is as good as it gets for alcohol-free, phsyical-only sunscreens. There isn’t really comparable or similar alternative, unfortunately.

  12. Do you have any top picks that are chemical only (and preferably sweat/sebum resistant) ? I noticed these all contain at least one physical blocking ingredient, which i find tends to leave a white cast on my skin.

    • Top picks? Honestly, no, otherwise it would have been featured here. The immensely popular Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence is all chemical and the new 2017 formula is sweat-resistant — I wrote a review on it recently. The Suncut Ultra UV Protect Gel (Water Splash) is sweat/sebum-resistant and it feels and looks the same on my skin as the Biore just mentioned.

  13. I’m a bit confused about photostability.. It’s my understanding that avobezone Is photostable for 2 hours. How many hours are the tinsorbs
    and unival photostable? It would be nice to put it on in the morning and go, similar to what I do with zinc oxide. Thanks for your help.

    • That isn’t exactly true and it isn’t that simple. Avobenzone on its own isn’t stable and it degrades even quicker when combined with certain ingredients (e.g. Octinoxate, uncoated minerals). According to Dermatologic Therapy, “Control degradation studies have shown that one hour of sunlight exposure reduces avobenzone absorbance by 36%” and when combined with Octinoxate “the absorption capacity of avobenzone was reduced by 36%, 15 minutes after UV exposure.” The degradation starts as soon as it is exposed and it is gradual. Stabilised avobenzone can maintain its UV absorbance even after 4 hours of exposure according to a 2010 Pubmed study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20806994).

      • thank you for the response. how about the tinsorbs and unival. How many hours are they photostable?

        • Newer generations filters like Tinosorb M degrade very minimally, but that’s in lab tests only. Nothing lasts all day without broken down by whatever is on the skin, being absorbed by UV, or simply physically wearing off. It doesn’t matter if a filter (or combination) remains stable for years, it doesn’t stay on the skin for extended periods of time and certaintly not in the amount needed for UV protection.

          If you’re apply it following the 2mg per square cm rule (despite popular belief, that doesn’t equal 1/4 tsp on the face), a sunscreen will last 2 hours guaranteed. With advanced filters and under ideal conditions, maybe 4 hours. 6-8 hours is science fiction.

  14. I enjoy reading your reviews and I have to admit that I once the first quarter of the year has past, I keep an eagle’s eye for your Top Sunscreens of the Year list! Can’t wait to try a couple of these.

  15. I’m so glad to see the Skin Aqua on this year’s list because it really is a great sunscreen! The former formulation was also my HG and now that they’ve bumped up the PA rating I love it even more. Funnily though I don’t find this sunscreen greasy at all and I have oily skin.Thank you for putting this list out every year!

  16. I love Nivea Creme’s signature scent… but I find this newly launched Nivea Sun Creme Care UV Cream smells more like… Nivea Men?

    • Hmm.. I’ve no clue what Nivea Men smells like but I have the Japanese formula of the classic Nivea Creme and this smells like it to me.

  17. Thanks for these recs! I wonder if you’d be willing to give your opinion on this. You have noted before that sunscreen formulated for “everyday use” is not suitable for spending a significant amount of time outside – in my case, 3-5 hours a day for my job. I do not sweat except in the dead of summer, and I always apply at least 1/4 teaspoon of sunscreen and reapply at least once every 2 hours (plus I wear a hat and sunglasses and UV-protective clothing; I need to use my hands so umbrella isn’t an option); but do you think that’s still not going to work compared to a sunscreen formulated for outdoor activities?

    • It really depends on your skin and your own comfort level. Sunscreens formulated for everyday wear are intended for incidental sun exposure only — you shouldn’t be in the sun long enough to develop to tan if you’re using one. Personally, I wouldn’t use a daily use sunscreen on myself if I’m going to be spending 3-5 hours outside. That being said, I don’t reapply and I don’t use measuring spoons. I suggest doing what you feel works best for your skin and lifestyle, whatever that may be.

      • Thanks for taking the time to respond and responding so fast! I don’t measure out the sunscreen either, but at this point I can eyeball if it’s more than 1/4 tsp. I haven’t gotten a tan since I became really diligent about sunscreen, but I still may switch to outdoors-formulated sunscreens for greater peace of mind.

        By the way, I’m not boasting about not sweating – when I lived in Japan I sweat like a pig for months every year, indoors and outdoors! The struggle is real there! I grew up in a tropical country and I swear it is more humid in Japan.

  18. I always wait for your annual recommendation every year. But this year, my sunscreen ran out very soon and wanted to try the new lunches. And I tried skin aqua uv milk and then I like it so much. And I guess it would be on your annual list this year. Now, I’m right. I found that your recommendation is always suitable for me. Thanks!

  19. Yes! I always your annual sunscreen recommendations. I’ve had a lot of fun trying a variety of brands thanks to your posts. My only concern this year is the ban that Japan has on shipping sunscreens to other countries. It’s a real bummer that this happened!

  20. Yes! Glad to see two alcohol-free ones made the list. I’ll have to look into them more. Thanks!

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