Summer is finally on its way and as we begin spending more time outdoors, it’s a good idea to adjust our skincare routines according to the season to ensure that our skin stays protected and healthy.
An effective sunscreen is a must-have product for the summer season and should be applied every day to maintain protection against harmful UV rays. Unlike many western sunscreens which are thick heavy creams that can be greasy or leave white marks behind, Japanese sunscreens consist of an innovative range of super lightweight lotions and gels.
These sunscreens can also function as makeup primers, so you won’t even notice that you have layered on the factor 50 before leaving the house!
In this article we’ll introduce some of our favorite Japanese sunscreens for 2021 and compare products including:
- Hado Labo Koi Gokujyun UV White Gel 50+PA++++ - best sunscreen for oily and sensitive skin
- Kao Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+ PA++++ - best lightweight waterproof sunscreen
- Canmake Mermaid Skin Gel UV Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++ - best sunscreen for wearing under makeup
- Shiseido Senka Mineral Water UV Essence SPF50 PA++++ - best value for money lightweight sunscreen
- Shiseido Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Mild Milk SPF50+ PA++++ - best waterproof sunscreen for sensitive skin and children
- Nivea Sun Protect Super Water Gel Sunscreen Pump Bottle SPF50 PA+++ - best value lightweight sunscreen for humid weather
- Kao Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++ Big Size 155ml - best gel sunscreen for moisturizing effects
- Shiseido Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk SPF50+ PA++++ 60ml - most powerful waterproof sunscreen
- Rohto Skin Aqua Super Moisture Milk Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++ - best all-round lightweight sunscreen
- Menturm Verdio UV Moisture Essence SPF50+ PA++++ 50g - best sunscreen for skin allergies and sensitive skin
Best sunscreen for oily and sensitive skin
Hada Labo UV White Gel is a multi-functional lightweight Japanese sunscreen that has the triple functionality of a moisturizer, face primer, and makeup base in one product. Formulated with highly hydrating components such as hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, this sunscreen leaves skin feeling smooth and hydrated and is suitable for use on sensitive skin.
When it comes to fighting against UV damage, Hada Labo’s UV White Gel provides a protection level of SPF50+ and PA++++ to stop any harm coming to your skin. This sunscreen is a consumer favorite thanks to its easy application and lightweight formula. The non-greasy texture and lack of white cast makes it an effective makeup base that can be used even on oily skin.
Best for lightweight waterproof sunscreen
The Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence combines strong UV protection with a lightweight texture to form a unique water-based Japanese sunscreen. This sunscreen features UV blocking ingredients such as water capsules, which when applied to the skin create a pleasant, watery veil.
This sunscreen feels as light as water on the skin, no matter how often it is applied, and is super waterproof for up to 80 minutes without the need for reapplication. Its new formula contains "Micro Defense" technology which prevents the formation of micro gaps, covering the body evenly like a second skin. It also contains moisturizing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, royal jelly, and citrus essence to keep skin feeling hydrated.
Best sunscreen for fast absorption and wearing under makeup
This convenient portable sized sunscreen from Canmake is the ideal product to slip easily into your handbag and reapply when you’re out and about and doubles up as a makeup base.
We love the refreshing sensation this product has when applied onto the face. The sunscreen has a smooth, watery gel texture that glides easily onto skin, without feeling sticky or rough, helping foundation to sit better on top and last longer. In addition to providing powerful UV protection of SPF 50+, it’s also packed full of moisturizing ingredients and is absorbed quickly onto the skin. Mermaid’s non-fragranced, alcohol-free formula makes it suitable for use on sensitive skin too.
Best value for money lightweight sunscreen
This sunscreen is part of Shiseido’s Senka skincare range, known for its affordability and effectiveness, and this product is no different. The Senka sunscreen comes in a gel format and has a very lightweight texture that is absorbed easily into the skin without leaving any white cast or stickiness behind.
The formula is packed with a blend of coenzyme Q10, hyaluronic acid, and Japanese mineral water to keep your skin keep hydrated and maintain elasticity. With a high protection factor of SPF50 PA++++, it helps prevent any damage caused by UV rays and dark spots or mottled skin.
Best waterproof sunscreen for sensitive skin and children
A favorite sunscreen among beauty bloggers and YouTubers, this highly protective and super waterproof Japanese sunscreen is suitable for use on sensitive skin, babies, and children with a SPF of factor 50.
This 5-star rated product has several interesting features when it comes to sunscreen. For example, its unique Aqua Booster Technology Ex means that the sunscreen’s protection actually increases when it comes into contact with water or sweat instead of being reduced.
The sunscreen’s special formula spreads evenly and easily onto skin and helps it to look bright and dewy in sunlight. Despite its strong waterproof effect, it can be easily removed with regular soap.
Best value lightweight sunscreen for humid weather
This gel sunscreen from Nivea Japan has a lightweight texture and contains hyaluronic acid to moisturize the skin and protect it from dryness caused by UV rays. Its non-greasy and non-sticky watery formula make it an ideal makeup base as well as a sunscreen offering a high level of SPF 50 protection.
Nivea Sun Protect is also allergy tested and free from fragrance and colorings so it can be used on sensitive skin too. Just one pump of the product provides coverage for the entire face meaning it will last a long time before you need to replace it.
In Japan, Nivea products are manufactured and marketed by a joint venture between Beiersdorf (parent company of Nivea brand) and Kao Corporation (Japanese conglomerate owner of popular brands such as Curél, Merries, Bioré, and Attack).
Best gel sunscreen for moisturizing effects
This lightweight sunscreen from Biore combines powerful sun protection technology and UV blocking ingredients with moisturizing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, royal jelly, and citrus essence to create an effective product.
Upon contact with skin the gel sunscreen uses its “Micro Defense” technology which creates an uneven watery veil to prevent the formation of micro-gaps and completely protects the skin from UV damage, aging skin, and sunburn.
Most powerful waterproof sunscreen
Shiseido Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk is a waterproof Japanese sunscreen offering a high level of protection. The formula was last updated in February 2022 and features new technology that provides stronger UV protection when encountering water, so that you can spend more time on the beach or by the pool. Testing by Shiseido revealed that the sunscreen remains water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
In addition to providing strong protection against UV rays both in and out the water, Anessa sunscreen contains protective and moisturizing ingredients including marine collagen, super hyaluronic, green tea, and tormentilla extract.
Best all-round lightweight sunscreen
Rohto Skin Aqua Super Moisture Milk is a lightweight Japanese sunscreen that will leave your skin feeling silky and soft. The sunscreen has a water-like texture and is easily absorbed into skin without leaving white marks.
Skin Aqua sunscreen is also blended with 4 kinds of moisturizing components, including hyaluronic acid and collagen, to keep your skin hydrated during sun exposure. It is also waterproof and sweat resistant so you can relax when swimming or exercising knowing that your skin is still protected.
The non-sticky, non-greasy formula is completely absorbed by skin making it ideal to apply before makeup as a primer.
Best sunscreen for skin allergies and sensitive skin
Menturm Verdio UV Moisture Essence is a lightweight Japanese sunscreen that protects skin not only from UV rays, but also any other environmental skin stressors such as pollen, dryness, and fine particles.
It has a water-like texture and is formulated with natural botanical ingredients such as aloe vera and green tea which has anti-inflammatory benefits that can help to soothe sunburn. Menturm Verdio’s gentle formula is free from colorants, parabens, mineral oil, and fragrance, making it ideal for consumers with sensitive skin.