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Three Favourite Japanese Sunscreens

My Three Favourite Japanese Sunscreens

Are you still struggling to find a sunscreen that it’s a pleasure to wear? My three current favourite Japanese sunscreens might give you some inspiration. They’re all lightweight formulas with SPF50+ PA++++ protection.

My skin is non-sensitive but I’m very picky when it comes to sunscreen – I refuse to make do with greasy, sticky formulas. For me, a “good” sunscreen isn’t just about numbers, certain ingredients, or lab performance. It’s vital that it stays put in real-life situations. Cosmetic elegance isn’t a trivial element.

It wasn’t difficult to narrow my sunscreen favourites down to these, because I simply grabbed the 3 that I’ve used the most this past several months. Because surely if I reach for them the most then there’s a reason for that?

There are more Japanese sunscreens reviews to come. You can browse all the Japanese sunscreens in the database here.

Also, check out the Japanese sunscreen 2022 guide.

My Three Favourite Japanese Sunscreens - ALLIE Chrono Beauty Tone Up UV

ALLIE Chrono Beauty Tone Up UV

This is the new and improved formula of the Nuance Change UV Gel that I featured as a Best Pick last year, and it has been trending in Japan. For good reason: it gives skin a gorgeous radiant finish that’s transfer-resistant, and it’s suitable for everyday wear and outdoors settings.

More lightweight than before, but with the same plump, juicy feel and radiant glow. It’s for anyone with non-oily skin who wants a sunscreen that will give excellent UV protection, prep skin for makeup, and add a touch of cosmetic radiance at the same time. It’s like a final skincare step and the first makeup step in one.

“Sheer Ecru” has ecru (light beige) micro-shimmer particles and it’s the one I’ve been reaching for the most lately. I keep coming back to it again because it’s incredibly quick and pleasing to use. If you’re looking for a sunscreen that will not only protect the skin but help to make it look far better, then this should be on your to-try list. It’s ¥1,979 (about US$14.70) for 60g here.

My Three Favourite Japanese Sunscreens - NIVEA UV DEEP PROTECT & Care Gel


This Japanese body sunscreen gel glides on like a dream and then completely disappears on the skin. Feels satisfyingly fresh and cool on a hot day.

It doesn’t leave a grubby sort of feeling that often comes along with water/sweat-resistant sunscreen. None of that here. The water gel applies beautifully and sinks in quickly — after about 20 seconds there’s just nothing left at all to suggest that you’ve applied anything to your skin. Apart from a gentle floral scent. It’s perfect for the neck and arms when you’re running errands.

This is a great option for people who want a perfectly undetectable sunscreen that won’t stain clothes. A 90g bottle will only set you back ¥871 (roughly US$6.50) at Amazon Japan.

My Three Favourite Japanese Sunscreens - ANESSA Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk N

ANESSA Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk N

Anessa does sunscreen in Japan like nobody else. You’re guaranteed to get the most thought-out and up-to-date technologies, and the flagship product is the gold-bottled milk. Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of it. It’s my go-to sunscreen if prolonged direct sun exposure is inevitable.

This new and improved version of its flagship product is excellent. Absolutely light and sheer and without greasiness or chalkiness or any kind of annoying side-effect. It’s intensely tenacious, sits well directly beneath makeup, and won’t leave a white cast on the skin. I really can’t think of anything I don’t like about this Japanese sunscreen.

60ml is currently US$21.21 at Dokodemo.

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15 Comments on Three Favourite Japanese Sunscreens

  1. Maybe a dumb question, but if using a semi-nightly retinoid like 0.025% Tretinoin, are Japanese sunscreens still okay to use? Any particular ingredients I should be avoiding in sunscreens when using prescription retinoids?

    • They’re perfectly fine! Some people find powerful retinoids like tretinoin make their skin a lot drier than usual but there’s no particular ingredient you need to avoid while using them.

  2. I am currently using the most recent version of the Biore Aqua Rich Gel as body sunscreen, but i despise how it transfers white and powdery on my clothes (i tend to wear only dark colours). does this nivea sunscreen have any of that powdery finish that will transfer as white? Hopefully the temperature cools down so i can wear long sleeves again but i would look for something different to wear for next summer.

    • It’s the titanium dioxide in the Biore gel that is responsible for the white residue. Nivea doesn’t contain it — it’s completely invisible and non-staining on clothes.

  3. Is SPF50/PA++++ necessary for normal daily activities? I recall the Japanese guidelines being SPF20-30/PA++(+) for everyday and SPF50/PA++++ only for outdoor activities and sports.

    Also, does iron-like Anessa rub off at all when wearing a mask? Is the fragrance noticeable when mask-wearing?

    • I personally stick to SPF50+ PA++++ sunscreens since they offer a tiny room for user error. (I do use moisturisers with SPF that have less UV protection if I’m not going anywhere.)

      Anessa and Allie are both transfer-resistant. The fragrance dissipates within minutes.

      • I use Allie and I still notice some transfer on the nose area and edges of my KF94 mask where it touches my face, although not as bad as other sunscreens. Wondering if Anessa is truly mask-proof since it has a reputation for being budge-proof?

        • I haven’t noticed product transfer with the Allie gel, but I apply powder to my nose and where my mask touches my face. I think its glowy finish makes it inevitably not as budge-proof, especially in oilier areas.

  4. How do you think the Nivea Deep Protect Gel would hold up during very hot, very humid summer marathon training runs lasting from 1-3 hours in early morning or evening sunlight?

    During two separate half marathon races and countless long runs of up to 30km, I have tried both the Allie Chrono Tone Up in Sheer Ecru and the Sakura colors and the new 2022 Shiseido Anessa Perfect UV Milk and 2022 Anessa Perfect UV Gel. None of these prevented tanning on arms and legs despite using quite a lot before each session. 1 tube of Allie Chrono lasted just 1 week given high volume of training. The 2022 Anessa Milk and Gel sunscreens did a better job but it is getting expensive because the bottles are still small. I am now only using the Anessa Milk and Gel because they have done a better job at preventing tanning but my skin has gotten a shade or two darker despite using copious quantities on arms, legs, neck, back, face (any exposed skin). My face has not darkened as much perhaps because of other skincare actives in combination with the Anessa UV.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Summer weather in New York City is similar to Tokyo or Seoul.

    • The Nivea is formulated for the incidental sun exposure you get during everyday activities such as walking to and from the corner store. It’s most certainly not suitable for marathon training runs (or other similar activities).

      Sunscreen should be your skin’s last line of defence. The first is sun avoidance followed by covering up. Is there a reason why your arms, legs, and back are exposed? It’s very common for marathon runners (both genders) in Japan to wear long sleeves, pants, and caps during races even in spring/summer.

  5. Thanks! I have tried the Nivea sunscreen & it’s good. I just wish it was fragrance-free, but I know I’m a minority in this.

    • Fragrance is added to mask the unpleasant chemical odour that all sunscreens inevitably have. Ones that don’t have fragrance added as an ingredient either use essential oils as an alternative or have odour-neutralising chemicals added so the product will smell like “nothing”.

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