A Beginner’s Guide to Japanese Sunscreens – Get Through the Summer with Healthy Skin
Why Is Choosing A Good Sunscreen So Important?
In Western countries, sunscreen is often thought of as a seasonal product that only needs to be used during summer on hot days, at the beach, or on vacation. But in reality, it is so important to protect the skin with sunscreen, which is why it should be included in your daily skincare routine during all times of the year and especially in summer.
Sun protection should be a vital part of the daily skincare routine because UV rays can cause damage to our skin all year round, whether the sun is shining or not, and not just during the summer. A good sunscreen prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, freckles, spots, and ultimately skin cancer caused by ultraviolet rays.
In this article, we’ll explore what makes Japanese sunscreens so effective, and why you should consider using one daily. We’ll also introduce some of our favorite Japanese sunscreen brands that you can buy online, even if you live outside of Japan.
Why Use Japanese Sunscreens? Three Reasons To Switch To Japanese Sunscreens Today
1. Japanese sunscreens offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays
UVA and UVB can both have a damaging effect on your skin. The sun emits three different types of UV radiation: UVA, UVB, and UVC, and it’s important to understand the difference between them when choosing the right sunscreen:
- UVA: long waves that account for 95% of UV radiation that reaches the earth. UVA rays penetrate the skin's second layer, causing wrinkles and aging of the skin.
- UVB: short waves that tend to damage the skin's top layers. UVB rays cause reddening of the skin, sunburn, and even damage the skin's DNA.
- UVC: shortest of all UV rays. Luckily, UVC rays never reach the earth because the ozone absorbs them. However, they can be found in man-made sources like mercury lamps and welding torches.
Unlike most sunscreens produced in the US and Europe, Japanese sunscreens include clear information on the product labels about the protection levels against UVA and UVB rays. For the most effective protection, you should use a sunscreen that can block against UVB and UVA rays, and Japanese sunscreens are very effective at doing this at an affordable price.
UVA rays are the ultraviolet rays that cause premature aging so it’s important to choose a product that lists this information clearly. You can find this information easily on Japanese sunscreens as they measure it as a protective grade (PA). Japanese sunscreens will include both SPF and PA information on the product label:
- SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and measures the sunscreen's ability to block UVB rays. The number tells you how long your skin is protected compared with the time without sunscreen. For example, a high SPF 50 means that it would take 50 times longer to burn your skin than if no sunscreen is used. Japanese sunscreens tend to have a higher SPF than most Western sunscreens, meaning they can be applied less often.
- PA stands for Protective Grade of UVA and measures the sunscreen's ability to block UVA rays. Similar to an SPF rating, the higher the PA number, the more protected your skin is from sun damage.
2. Japanese sunscreens are multifunctional and hypoallergenic
One of the best things about Japanese sunscreens is that they are usually hypoallergenic and contain gentle ingredients that don’t aggravate your skin such as alcohol, parabens, mineral oil, and fragrances. This makes them perfect for users who suffer from skin allergies or have sensitive skin.
Another major advantage of using Japanese sunscreen is that many of the products are multifunctional – helping you to save time by performing several functions simultaneously. For example, products such as Canmake’s Mermaid Skin Gel UV Sunscreen works as a powerful sunscreen and makeup primer that can be applied before foundation.
Hada Labo’s popular Koi Gokujyun UV White Gel is a highly moisturizing sunscreen that incorporates six functions in one: lotion, beauty serum, emulsion, cream, pack, and sunscreen. Using this one product alone is sufficient as a makeup base and effective UV protection of SPF50+PA++++.
3. Japanese sunscreens are so lightweight and are formulated using the latest skincare technology
One of the biggest reasons why Japanese sunscreens are so popular is that their texture is quite unique. Unlike many Western sunscreens which are thick white creams that can be quite gloopy and leave white casts, Japanese sunscreens are extremely lightweight in texture and often have a gel-like format that slides onto skin easily like water. They have a non-greasy, non-sticky texture that doesn’t leave any white marks behind after application.
Japanese sunscreens also incorporate the best in skincare technology within their complex formulations to create extremely effective products. For example, Shiseido’s Anessa range of sunscreens includes a special kind of skin technology called Aqua Booster Technology Ex which makes the sunscreen become more effective upon contact with water or sweat rather than its protection thinning out.
What Are The Ingredients That Make A Great Japanese Sunscreen?
Sunscreens are formulated with multiple active ingredients to protect against ultraviolet rays but broadly they can be divided into two types:
- Chemical absorbers: chemical substances that absorb UV rays so that your skin does not absorb them. Examples of chemical absorbers are: oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, and octylcrylene.
- Physical blockers: substances that protect the skin from UV damage by scattering ultraviolet rays. Most common physical blockers in sunscreens are mineral-derived components such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
Many of the sun care products available today combine both physical and chemical ingredients. The best way to find a sunscreen that’s right for you is to select one that is appropriate for your skin type.
Aside from the ingredients mentioned above, Japanese sunscreens may contain additional ingredients such as natural botanical extracts and plant-based ingredients like aloe vera leaf, royal jelly, and jojoba oil.
You’ll find that many Japanese sunscreens also contain highly moisturizing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and collagen to keep skin hydrated and stop it from drying out in the sun. These ingredients also provide anti-aging benefits to the skin.
Are Japanese Sunscreens Safe?
Japanese sunscreens contain extremely high-quality ingredients, have clear product label information, and are made under strict controls of production making them very safe to use. In addition, they come in many types and forms, so you have plenty of choices available to make the best decision for your personal needs and our environment.
What Kinds of Japanese Sunscreens Are There?
There are several different kinds of Japanese sunscreens available to buy. Firstly, there is a cream type of sunscreen – these are usually highly moisturizing and great for keeping skin hydrated.
You can also find lotion sunscreens which are usually more lightweight than creams and are easily applied and absorbed into the skin, providing even coverage. The other main kind of Japanese sunscreen is the gel type, which is extremely lightweight, smooth, easy to apply, and practically invisible once absorbed into the skin.
5 Best-Selling Powerful Japanese Sunscreens That Won't Break The Bank & Are Effective On All Skin Types
Now that you know all about Japanese sunscreens and what makes them so effective, here are a few recommendations for some of our favorite brands and products to check out:
Isehan Kiss Me Mommy UV Aqua Milk SPF 50+ PA++++
A lightweight moisturizing sunscreen made with 80% natural ingredients including raspberry, aloe, and jojoba oil, and hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and collagen. This is a gentle product suitable for sensitive skin and children.
Isehan Kiss Me Mommy UV Aqua Milk SPF 50+ PA++++ 50g
Kao Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+ PA++++
Unique water-based sunscreen formula combining strong UV protection with light-to-the-touch texture. This sunscreen contains a new formula containing "Micro Defense" technology which prevents the formation of micro gaps, covering the body evenly like a second skin.
Kao Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+ PA++++ 70g
Nivea Sun Protect Super Water Gel Sunscreen Pump Bottle SPF50 PA+++
Nivea Sun Protect Water Gel has a lightweight formula that feels like spreading water on the skin that can also be used as a makeup base. This product is suitable for sensitive skin as it is allergy tested and contains hyaluronic acid to protect it from dryness caused by UV rays.
Nivea Sun Protect Super Water Gel Sunscreen Pump Bottle SPF50 PA+++ 140g
Rohto Hada Labo Koi Gokujyun UV White Gel SPF50+ PA++++
Hada Labo UV White Gel is an extremely popular, multi-functional lightweight Japanese sunscreen that contains hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and vitamin C that work deep into the skin. This is a gentle, non-greasy product suitable for all skin types.
Rohto Hada Labo Koi Gokujyun UV White Gel SPF50+ PA++++ 90g
Canmake Mermaid Skin Gel UV Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++
Refreshing and smooth, watery gel-type sunscreen that glides onto skin without feeling sticky or rough. It can be used as a makeup base, helping foundation to sit better and last longer. Comes in a convenient portable handbag-sized tube, perfect for reapplying when out and about.
Canmake Mermaid Skin Gel UV Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++ 40g
Best Japanese Sunscreens Per Year
Many Japanese sunscreens renew their products every year with updated formulas to reflect the latest breakthroughs in skincare technology. We have a sunscreen article that we update yearly to have the most accurate and up-to-date Japanese sunscreen recommendations which you can find here.
Are you a lover of Japanese sunscreen? Let us know about your holy grail Japanese sunscreen in the comments below!