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Review: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Shaka Fluid

Review: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Shaka Fluid

It’s La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Shaka Fluid SPF50+ that I want to talk about today, notable for its PPD46 UVA protection. Most reviews online of it have been unblemished and so, I was expecting to be blown away by it. But I wasn’t. In fact, I was so completely underwhelmed by it.

I can tell you that I’ve now tried the sunscreen with a light moisturiser beneath it, on bare skin, in ultra-hot and unbearably humid Japanese summer, and in pleasantly warm weather. Each time I’ve come to the same conclusion: Shaka Fluid and I do not quite see eye to eye.

The facial sunscreen boasts the “highest UVA protection achieved on an Anthelios product”. In theory, it’s a “non-greasy cream” with an “invisible, light-weight texture” that “does not leave white marks and does not migrate”.

But this isn’t what happened on my (relatively normal) skin at all. In Japanese summer weather, it didn’t sink in at all — it was so off-putting that I had to wash it off. I tried it again in a much milder climate. While it was significantly more pleasant, it left a greasy, filmy residue that transferred onto everything my skin touched. It wasn’t possible to apply makeup over it without wrecking the protective layer underneath. The texture was light and fluid, but the appearance was shiny — and not in a glowing or dewy way. Its distinct sunscreen-y odour didn’t dissipate with time.

It’s worth pointing out that Shaka Fluid‘s purported PPD46 is not actually on the packaging. I find this odd considering the sunscreen is heavily marketed around it. La Roche-Posay is boasting that Shaka Fluid has the highest UVA protection ever achieved in the lineup, so why isn’t its impressive PPD on the packaging for everyone to see? It couldn’t be due to E.U.’s labelling regulations. There are, after all, French sunscreens with PPD printed on the box (e.g. Bioderma) in Europe. I’m inclined to think the reason is that the PPD46 rating has not been tested according to international standards to be true.

(I never got the hype with Mexoryl. They aren’t as great as the rumours suggest, especially Mexoryl SX. L’Oreal is secretive about their proprietary Mexoryl filters and data on them is scarce because neither is as good as they sound. The veil of secrecy both blurs their inadequacies and helps the hype going. They’d sell them if they were that great, so there’s another conspiracy theory for you.)

Regardless, superior UVA protection is a bit of a moot point if the sunscreen doesn’t agree with your skin or you simply can’t stand it. It also needs to stay put on the skin in order to be protective. Shaka Fluid claims to be resistant to water, sweat and sand, but on my skin, the only thing it is resistant to is splashes of tap water. It comes off far too easily for me to feel confident that it will protect my skin.

So why did I persevere with Shaka Fluid? Firstly, as I’ve explained, most reviews online have been glowing, which made me question my own results. Secondly, it is still a lot less greasy and shiny than any French sunscreens I’ve ever tried. So it’s not as though I hate this sunscreen. I just do not want to use it again given the myriad of better and cheaper options I have available.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Shaka Fluid SPF50+, 50ml, is sold in drugstores across Europe for about €15.70. You can find it online for US$21.90+ here.

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16 Comments on Review: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Shaka Fluid

  1. Best sunscreen I’ve ever tried in my entire existence. I apply 1/2 tsp of it religiously every two hours on bare skin and by the end of the day there’s a very heavy layer of sunscreen that is very difficult to cleanse off my face, which proves it is a water/sweat resistant product. Maybe you’ve tried the older version? They newest version is pure perfection.

    • As far as I’m aware, there has always been just this one sunscreen with this name. Its previous version has a completely different product name — Ultra-Light Fluid. The Shaka Fluid has now been replaced by something called Invisible Fluid.

      I only tried the Shaka Fluid, not its older version or its current replacement.

  2. I have no idea what PPD is and have never seen such thing advertised in Australian market.

    I got my hand on a few free samples some time ago, and I’m glad I tried it without paying for a full size. It was indeed terrible. At first, I was quite surprised with its light, non grassy texture (compare to most EU sunscreens). However, once it’s on your skin, very soon it will start to ball up without touching. It doesn’t matter if you use it on top of a day cream or on bare skin. So I was quite shocked when it became so popular (BUT, if you have read any reviews from the asian market, such as Taobao, it’s night & day, so many people dislike it and mentioned the ‘ball-up’!).

    I recently came across POLA’s BA light selector sunscreen with rather interesting claim, I wonder what’s you opinion about it? Does such product really does a better job than Anessa (I recently started using Anessa BB and love it! It ‘s better than both Lancome BB and La Roche-Posay XL BB)? I do like the fact it goes after toner so would save sometime in the moring.

    • Pola’s BA Light Selector is a super-charged daily facial moisturiser with SPF so not really comparable to Anessa. It’s quite lovely but it’s also ¥11,000.

      • I wonder if it could be used as a suncream under makeup, or needs another suncream on top (for outdoor & driving)?

        If it requires another product on top, I don’t think it worth the $$$.

  3. surprised you dont like it – i absolultely love this one and the PPD is super high vs other japanese sunscreens.

  4. I have emptied one bottle of this sunscreen already….It works for me. I live in a tropical climate, and tbh I have never found any sunscreen, Asian or European, that dries down completely on me, so I’ve just learnt to use those that dry down to a tolerable level then powder over. I can’t comment on the PPD protection since I’m not knowledgeable enough in that area, but texture-wise this is ok for me. It’s one of my favourite actually.

  5. Thanks for your review. I was also expecting to be blown away by it, especially as I am a huge fan of their body and their kids sunblocks. I thought I had finally found a perfect sunscreen that would suit my skin, but instead it broke me out in rough bumpy skin almost immediately, and I had to stop using it after a few days. Just ordered the Klairs UV Essence and I’ll try the newly released Anessa too!

  6. Shows how subjective sunscreen is. This is my holy grail. Is it as light and weightless as your typical Japanese sunscreen? No. But the most flattering Japanese sunscreens are usually not water resistant at all. And even though they contain better filters than the stone age US sunscreens, their PA/PPD rating doesn’t come close to what LRP has achieved with their Shaka Fluid. On my normal skin the Shaka Fluid does sink in, it leaves an almost matte and comfortable finish and I can apply it again and again without balling or any other issues. And in contrast to the previous formulation this doesn’t leave a white cast, no matter how often and how much of it you apply. It’s as close to a perfect sunscreen as it gets, in my opinion and the UVA rating can’t be beat. Also, very happy this doesn’t contain octinoxate, which is in practically every Japanese sunscreen. It stings my eyes and is overall not the best sunscreen filter..

  7. I had the same experience unfortunately. There were so many reviews raving about how weightless and unnoticeable this sunscreen was with excellent protection, so I was excited to try it out. When I did, I found that it left a very unpleasant film on my face that felt very greasy and never sank in. Maybe it is because some people don’t apply the proper amount?

    Anyway, I guess the search for the perfect sunscreen continues…

  8. I actually love this but being in the UK we really don’t have the range of facial sunscreens like in Japan. Unfortunately suncream seems to be something people only wear when they go abroad, it makes it almost impossible to buy suncream from a shop in the winter months!

    This is the first facial suncream I have found in the UK that I can actually apply makeup over without it looking tacky and heavy. So, whilst some of the Asian products are much better, this is definitely the best option in the UK.

    • I feel that French sunscreens, in general, are formulated for occasional use only (i.e. the beach) during hot, but very dry summers. In high humidity and heat, it was simply unusable since it didn’t absorb into the skin at all.

  9. Thank you for this review; as someone who usually uses Anessa sunscreens I was also unimpressed with this supposedly superior European one. While it certainly is less heavy than most European ones and much more pleasant than the Anthelios light fluid, it never seemed to fully set on me and felt like it slid off in high heat and humidity.

  10. I think that your review is a bit biased against European cosmetics in favor of probably Asian cosmetics which makes perfect sense as the site was created for them.
    Please allow me to express my points.

    The European Union does not require that sunscreen manufacturers reveal the PPD value and La Roche Posay is not a niche brand aimed at skincare enthusiasts. They are the bestselling pharmacy brand in Europe and they aim their products to millions of users that have barely heard about UVA rays. Adding the PPD on a very busy packaging that must by law include so much information is not something they think is very important to do just so that they can be appealing to a few thousand people that might get attracted by that and who will read about it online anyway. If their method of testing was not accurate, they would not do it. Why bother? Why put it online so that it can be questioned? It makes no sense.

    In terms of the water resistance, La Roche Posay claims it is very water resistance and you are saying that a splash of water removes it. Are we supposed to believe that they have done such a terrible job? That they have created a beach sunscreen that a splash of water removes it? Have you tested it? Did you use a UV camera to know that there is no protection left behind? What is your argument? That you feel it is not there anymore?

    Now regarding the cosmetic elegance, yes of course it is not as cosmetically elegant as a sunscreen that contains a small amount of filters just because it does not have to have a PPD value much higher than 16 in order to get “the highest UVA protection of PA++++”, so I do not understand what is the myriad of better and cheaper options available. The only better product would be a product with PPD 46 that is more elegant, and I think that there is not a myriad of them, not even a few of them, there is basically none.

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment. I’ll address each of your points.

      Just because I dislike this sunscreen and find its claims questionable, doesn’t mean I’m somehow biased against European cosmetics in general. Over the past decade, I’ve written very favourably on plenty of Western skincare products here on this site, including La Roche-Posay other products!

      It’s worth remembering that L’Oreal, the largest, most profitable cosmetic company in the world, has a tremendous amount of power and influence. Over the years, they had lost or settled countless lawsuits against them, from patent infringements to deceptive advertisements to false claims. They’re not above conducting unsavoury business activities. Let’s not forget that they have been sued by Johnson & Johnson over a decade ago over blatant lies about PPD.

      You’re right that the EU doesn’t require companies to disclose PPD value. But like I pointed out in my review, L’Oreal has heavily marketed Shaka Fluid around its UVA protection and PPD in the UK and Asia — it isn’t a trivial detail brought to attention by some enthusiasts online. One would expect it to be on there because the brand is the one loudly boasting it! If there’s room for “anti-oxydant” and that “shake shake” picture on the packaging, there’s certainly space there for “PPD46”. And if they chose to omit it out of fear that it will confuse the average consumers, then why have it large and bold in the advertisements?

      I wasn’t saying a splash of water removed it, in fact, quite the opposite! I said that on my skin, the only thing it seemed to be resistant to was water. It transferred onto everything that came in contact with in everyday life. There was very clear, visible reference, much like hand creams that leave greasy fingerprints, foundations that smudge and transfer to clothes, or self-tanners that get all over the bedding. If I’m hot and sweaty, I can literally wipe the sunscreen almost entirely off my skin.

      What’s considered “better” is entirely subjective. For me, it isn’t just about the PPD. It’s vital that it stays in place. Cosmetic elegance isn’t a trivial element either. Judging by the oily, filmy residue that comes off onto my fingers and phone, and the stains it leaves on clothes, this sunscreen isn’t staying put well enough to protect my skin. As far as I’m concerned, any sunscreen that I can apply generously without it sliding around on my skin or slipping off would be far better.

      Consider a large number of European sunscreens do not reveal PPD whatsoever, there could be plenty of others that match or even surpass Shaka Fluid’s purported value. We just have absolutely no way of knowing.​ You seem quite dismissive of the PA++++ label, but it’s no different from Europe’s standardised UVA circle logo in practice. Minimum of 1/3 of SPF50 is PPD16, which is the same as PA++++.

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