Don’t get burned: top Japanese sunscreen brands

Everyone’s free to wear sunscreen. When it’s sunny, we wouldn’t suggest staying totally free from sun protection, however free you feel. Forget to slap on the SPF during a Japanese summer, and you’re in for a world of pain. Take that from someone who spent weeks looking like Zoidberg from Futurama last year.

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There are a bunch of different types: milky, cream, gel, watery essence, and mist spray. The right one for you depends on your skincare routine and skin type. Essences work well on dry skin, for example, and combined moisturiser-sunscreen is a great makeup base. Some people might find the alcohol content in a sunscreen drying, or they might like the cooling sensation on their skin.

Protect and care for your skin with Japan’s best brands of sunscreen. All of the products we mention are at least SPF 32-35, and most are 50+. The protection levels were revised in 2013, and most companies reformulated their sunscreens to make them even more effective.

(Special thanks to Ratzilla Cosme, a review/comparison site that gave us a much better idea of the variety of sunscreens out there. If you’re new to all this, it’s a great resource. We also found out that companies update and discontinue sunscreens like the rest of us change socks. So if you can’t find something we linked here at the time of writing, contact us for alternative ideas.

Biore

It’s pretty common for Japanese skincare brands to branch out into sunscreen. After all, wouldn’t you trust a company that makes great moisturiser and anti-aging cream to make a decent sunblock?

Biore sunscreen

Biore Sarasara UV products are popular (‘sarasara’ is Japanese onomatopoeia for ‘silky’). Your options include Rich Watery Gel and Rich Watery Essence. Or you could go for the spray-on sunscreen, which recently relaunched for summer in a larger can.

Skin Aqua

The Skin Aqua sunscreen range is one of Rohto’s sub-brands. The variety’s impressive: gel, milk, and essence formulas. All of them contain collagen and 2 types of hyaluronic acid to boost the skin. (Acid on the skin?! Yep, and it’s already in your body.)

Skin Aqua sunscreens

Skin Aqua is one of the rare brands to offer sunscreen bottles with a handy pump top. That helps when you’re measuring out the right amount to apply. You don’t want to skimp, but use too much and it’ll take forever to absorb.

Hada Labo

If you’ve heard of Hada Labo before, maybe it’s for the Gokujyun skincare range. Look out for Koi-Gokujyun products if you want to use something substantial – the ‘koi’ kanji means ‘thick’.

Hada Labo sunscreen

Hada Labo is also produced by Rohto. The name means ‘skin laboratory’. Scientific! Rohto’s even gone ahead and patented the technology behind the UV protection. There’s a downside: no mention of Hada Labo Perfect UV sunscreen being able to resist oil, sweat, or water.

Mentholatum

Damn, Rohto really wants you to buy their sunscreen. That’s 3 brands in a row!

The Sunplay line-up gives you choices. Super Moisture cuts moisturising and applying SPF down to a single step, and Super Cool keeps skin calm and refreshed. They have something in common: ‘the strongest!’ in massive kanji on the pack.

Sunplay sunscreen

Mentholatum Acnes sunscreen’s also medicated, to help reduce and prevent acne. That’s a lot of benefits in one bottle. No wonder it’s treated as a quasi-medical product in Japan.

Sunkiller

A name like that has a lot to prove from the start. And with individual product names like ‘Perfect Moisture’ and ‘Perfect Strong’, you expect a lot from a tube of Sunkiller. Slay those UV rays!

Sunkiller sunscreen

Some Sunkiller formulas don’t claim to be waterproof or sweatproof (some do, like the orange Perfect Strong Plus shown above) so always check). They’re better for when you’re relaxing in the sunshine and staying on dry land.

Anessa

Shiseido’s sunscreen is one of the pricier options. It comes in near the top of the range compared to other brands we’ve mentioned. But you’re paying for added benefits: Anessa’s mineral-rich Aqua Booster formula improves when it comes into contact with water. No need to reapply when you’ve been for a swim.

Anessa sunscreen

All of the latest Anessa sunscreens are Aqua Booster type. Look out for the gold (more waterproof) and silver (more moisture) bottles. The AA and A+N ranges have been discontinued, so they’re much harder to find.

Allie

The cosmetics company behind Allie is Kanebo, which you might know better for the Kate makeup range. They mainly make gels and mineral sunscreens, which are known for being impressively waterproof. The pack sizes are also good – up to 90g, compared to some brands that only come in 25ml bottles.

Allie sunscreen

If cutting your skincare routine down by one step wasn’t enough, try Allie UV protection BB cream. You can also get Allie face powder and eyeliner, but these don’t claim any sun protection. The eyeliner’s waterproof, at least.

Menturm

2 words: SUN BEARS.

Yep, that’s the name of the sunscreen range Menturm makes. Sun Bears. They’re here to keep you super protected, by a strong sunscreen formula. These mini yet potent milky formulas are designed for anyone planning an outdoor activity. As long as it doesn’t involve coral reefs.

Sun Bears sunscreen

It’s strong, but gentle. A little bit goes a long way, so don’t be fooled by the bottle sizes. Some of the sunscreens have a light fruity/citrus scent, and there’s a version for sensitive skin.

Unusually for a sunscreen range – but reassuringly for a sunscreen range – the Sun Bears lineup includes aloe aftersun lotion.

Nivea Sun

Wait, is Nivea Japanese? Doesn’t matter. Considering its popularity in Japan, Nivea Sun deserves a mention here.

Nivea Sun sunscreen

Anyone who’s used Nivea products before should know to expect some substantial cream sunscreens. They’re popular for use on the body, but might be a bit rich for the face.

What you can also expect is a soft Milky Essence, and (until it gets discontinued, again) a smooth Water Gel version.

Have a lovely, lobster-free summer

Stay safe and not bright red this summer. Order quality, effective Japanese sunscreen via DEJAPAN. If you’ve got questions about having sunscreen shipped internationally from Japan, send us an email first.

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