The Ultimate Guide to The Best Japanese Sunscreens Updated Every Year

The Ultimate Guide to The Best Japanese Sunscreens Updated Every Year-Japanese Taste
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    In Japan, sunscreens are often daily-use products during summer, and for many people year-round. They’re used as part of a person’s daily skincare routine, which means they need to be formulated differently to the sunscreens we’re used to in the west. In the west, sunscreen is typically only applied as-needed. We wear sunscreen when we’re planning to spend extended periods in the sun, so it’s not required to feel or look particularly good on the skin.

    Sunscreens in Japan are made to be worn all day. They’re worn at school, and at the office. They’re worn under makeup and other cosmetics. So they can’t feel too oily or be damaging to your skin. That’s why sunscreens in Japan are often much lighter and more watery than sunscreens sold elsewhere. They soak into the skin quickly, and leave behind very little residue, so it often feels like you’re not wearing sunscreen at all. In addition, Japanese sunscreens are typically packed full of hydrating skincare ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, collagen and more. You can read all about Japanese sunscreens and why they're so good for you on our Beginner's Guide to Japanese Sunscreens.

    Japanese Sunscreen Protection Ratings

    best japanese sunscreens

    The sun produces three different kinds of UV rays: UVA, UVB and UVC. All three forms of UV radiation are extremely harmful to human skin, but we only need to worry about the first two, as UVC is blocked by the earth's ozone layer.

    UVB radiation damages the outer layer of your skin and causes sunburn, but UVA damages the deeper layers of your skin, and is the primary cause of skin tanning. UVA is also closely associated with premature skin sagging and aging. Exposure to either UVA or UVB radiation can cause skin cancer.

    Japanese sunscreen packaging usually displays two different protection ratings: SPF and PA. The SPF rating corresponds to how many times greater the protection from UVB radiation. For example, SPF 15 means that only one fifteenth of the UVB rays will reach your skin, and SPF 50 means that only one fiftieth of the rays will reach you.

    While the SPF rating relates to UVB protection, the PA rating relates to UVA protection. The PA level of a sunscreen isn’t graded by numbers like SPF is, but by plus symbols, with PA++++ being the highest level on the scale. All of the sunscreens included in this list are from the two highest PA ratings: PA+++ and PA++++. Just like SPF, the PA ratings are a little bit complicated. But to put it simply: PA+++ means it would take your skin between eight and sixteen times longer to tan than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen, and PA++++ means that it would take your skin sixteen times longer or more to tan.

    Top 10 Best Japanese Sunscreens for Summer 2024

    Now that we’ve covered why Japanese sunscreen is so popular, and the unique protection ratings, let’s take a look at the ten best Japanese sunscreens that you can use to keep your skin healthy and hydrated this summer. We update this post every year just before summer to make sure we're providing the best, most up-to-date information about Japanese sunscreens to help you make informed decisions to protect your skin. 

    Best Japanese Sunscreen for Dry Skin

    Kose Sekkisei Skincare Non Sticky Skin Brightening UV Gel Sunscreen Gel SPF+ PA++++

     Dry Skin Brightening

    Kose Sekkisei UV Gel is perfect for sensitive skin. It has been specifically tested for allergens, and tested on people with dry and sensitive skin, to ensure that the formula is gentle on all skin types. In addition, its formula is designed to protect your skin from outside pollutants and irritants. Sekkisei UV Gel was developed as a shield, not only for UV rays, but for dust, dirt, pollen and other things that can damage your skin. 

    The formula includes coix seed (Job’s tears) which is known for its skin whitening and brightening properties, and various botanicals such as angelica root extract, rose myrtle fruit extract and melothria root extract to keep your skin soft and hydrated under the harsh summer sun. 

    Kose Sekkisei Skincare Non Sticky Skin Brightening UV Gel Sunscreen Gel SPF+ PA++++ 90g
    Kose Sekkisei Skincare Non Sticky Skin Brightening UV Gel Sunscreen Gel SPF+ PA++++ 90g


    Best Sunscreen for an Active Lifestyle

    Kao Bioré UV Athlizm Skin Protect Milk Sunscreen SPF 50+ PA++++

     All Skin Types Super Waterproof

    Kao Bioré Athlizm Skin Protect Milk was designed to have enormous staying power on even your most active days. This high-performance sunscreen is perfect for people who spend a lot of time enjoying the outdoors in summer.

    This long-lasting sunscreen is super waterproof and highly sweat and friction-resistant. Its formula features Bioré’s Tough Boost & Outer Skin technologies, which use friction-resistant polymers to ensure their sunscreen lasts, forming a “second skin” that protects you from UV radiation, but is also light and deeply hydrating. 

    Suitable for all skin types, this sunscreen is perfect for a hike, a day at the beach, or any summer sport or outdoor activity.

    biore athlizm japanese sunscreen

    Kao Bioré UV Athlizm Skin Protect Milk Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++ 65g


    Best Sunscreen for Babies

    Pigeon Baby Sunscreen UV Baby Milk Waterproof SPF 50+

    Sensitive Skin Ceramide

    Pigeon UV Baby Milk is the best Japanese sunscreen for babies, and one of the best for adults with sensitive skin, too.

    Since this sunscreen can be used on newborns from 0 months old, it's one of the gentlest sunscreens on the market. Its protection level is still extremely high, boasting SPF 50+ and PA++++, so it has the highest level of protection against both UVB and UVA available. In addition, its formulation contains highly moisturizing ingredients like ceramide and hyaluronic acid, so it's great for people with dry skin, too.

    Some sunscreens require soap and scrubbing to completely remove, but Pigeon understands babies have very sensitive skin, so this formulation can easily be removed with gentle baby soaps.

    Pigeon UV Baby Milk is a milky lotion, so it doesn't dry sticky, and it's very easy to apply. It has no parabens, fragrances, alcohols or UV absorbers, so you can rest assured your baby's skin is in excellent hands.

    pigeon uv baby milk best japanese sunscreen

    Pigeon Baby Sunscreen UV Baby Milk Waterproof SPF50+ 50g


    Best Eco-Friendly Sunscreen

    Kanebo Allie Gel Sunscreen UV EX SPF 50+ PA++++

    Combination Skin Hyaluronic Acid

    Kanebo Allie Gel Sunscreen is a very popular sunscreen in Japan, which has been getting more and more popular recently. Each time this sunscreen gets renewed, it gets more environmentally friendly, as Kanebo keeps looking for ways to reduce waste.

    Allie doesn't use UV absorbers, like OMC, which are known to cause severe damage to coral reefs, and the package uses a composite of plastic and paper to cut down on unnecessary reliance on plastics. In fact, the current version of Allie uses less plastic in the packaging and in the sunscreen tube than previous versions of the same product.

    Allie Gel UV EX is a waterproof sunscreen that leaves a slightly dewy look on your skin after application. It comes highly recommended for combination skin types, so if you have dry and oily areas on your face, this is perfect for you. It's fantastic as a makeup base as it's friction-resistant and doesn't ball up, and it includes hyaluronic acid for skin hydration. Hyaluronic acid is one of the most popular skincare ingredients in Japan. You can learn more about it on our guide here

    kanebo allie eco-friendly sunscreen

    Kanebo Allie Gel Sunscreen UV EX (Coral Reef Safe Sunscreen) SPF50+ PA++++ 90g


    Best Budget Japanese Sunscreen

    Nivea Sun Protect Super Water Gel Sunscreen SPF50 PA++++

    Oily Skin Allergy Tested

    Nivea Sun Protect Super Water Gel sets the benchmark for Japanese sunscreens, and it's one of the cheapest sunscreens on the market.

    Unlike western sunscreens, Nivea Super Water Gel is extremely lightweight, soaks into the skin in seconds, and leaves no white cast. Other sunscreens might feel greasy or sticky after application, but thanks to Nivea's unique formulation, this sunscreen feels like spreading water on your skin. For that reason, this is the most recommended Japanese sunscreen for oily skin–although it’s suitable for all skin types. Just like many other Japanese skincare products, it contains hyaluronic acid to moisturize your skin. It's also fragrance and colorant free. 

    While this is a very high-quality sunscreen, it does have some drawbacks to make it so cost-effective. It’s non-waterproof, so if that’s important to you, it may be better to try something else on this list. In addition, it has UV protection ratings of SPF 50 and PA+++. The maximum rating levels are SPF 50+ and PA++++, so it’s slightly less-effective than some other sunscreens.

    What it lacks in those areas, however, it more than makes up for with its price and very lightweight feeling. The average price of the 10 Japanese sunscreens on this list is $0.70 USD / gram, but Nivea Sun Protect Super Water Gel comes in at a very reasonable $0.10 USD / gram.

    Nivea Sun Protect Super Water Gel Sunscreen SPF50 PA++++ 80g
    Nivea Sun Protect Super Water Gel Sunscreen Pump Bottle SPF50 PA+++ 140g


    Best Sunscreen With Collagen

    Shiseido Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk SPF50+

    All Skin Types Waterproof

    Shiseido Anessa Perfect UV is considered the gold standard for Japanese sunscreen. It’s one of the bestselling sunscreens in Japan, and it’s heavily advertised on TV and in drugstores in the summer. 

    While some sunscreens come off easily in water, Anessa sunscreen is famous for its Auto Booster technology, which makes the sunscreen more effective when it comes into contact with water, sweat, or moisture in the air. This works because the moisture evens out the coverage of the sunscreen, ensuring that there are no gaps or weak spots.

    Anessa sunscreen wins the “Best With Collagen” category this year because it’s one of the few sunscreens that contains this fantastic skincare ingredient, yet it’s still affordable and extremely powerful against UVA and UVB radiation. Not only does Shiseido Anessa Perfect Skincare Milk contain collagen, but it also has hyaluronic acid and green tea extract, making it not simply a sunscreen, but a combination skincare product and sunscreen.

    Shiseido Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk SPF50+ 60ml
    Shiseido Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Mild Milk SPF50+ 60ml


    Best Hypoallergenic Sunscreen

    Isehan Kiss Me Mommy UV Aqua Milk SPF 50+ PA++++

    Sensitive Skin Collagen

    Isehan Kiss Me Mommy is not only the best hypoallergenic sunscreen, it’s one of the best sunscreens for kids, people with sensitive skin, and people who prioritize natural and moisturizing ingredients.

    Kiss Me Mommy, as the name suggests, was developed as a kids’ sunscreen. However, it’s now popular among people of all ages, as it’s affordable, hypoallergenic, and gentle on sensitive skin. Most Japanese sunscreens contain alcohol, but Isehan Kiss Me Mommy is alcohol-free, it’s also free from fragrances, colorants, preservatives and mineral oils.

    Even though it’s made from over 80% natural ingredients, it’s still SPF 50+ and PA++++, meaning it has the highest available protection against UVA and UVB radiation. Finally, it includes collagen, ceramide, aloe vera and hyaluronic acid to keep your skin hydrated and fresh all day long.

    isehan kiss me mommy sunscreen

    Isehan Kiss Me Mommy UV Aqua Milk SPF 50+ PA++++ 50g


    Best Sunscreen/Serum 2-in-1

    Kanebo Veil of Day UV Protection Day Serum SPF 50 PA+++

     Dry Skin Highly Moisturizing

    Kanebo’s Veil of Day is a skincare serum with UV protection built-in. It’s SPF 50 and PA+++, so it’s just one level below the maximum for UVB and UVA radiation protection.

    This serum is an intense deep moisturizer that injects your skin with moisture for 12 hours. It’s composed of 75% water-based ingredients that form a water veil over your skin, and protect it from drying out under the sun’s harmful UV rays.

    You can use it as a makeup base to allow your cosmetics to be applied evenly and smoothly, and to prevent your skin from drying out underneath them.

    Its formulation causes an aqueous membrane to form on top of your face, which is up to ten times thicker than in comparable products. This membrane acts as a second skin and locks in the product’s moisturizing ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, to keep your skin hydrated throughout the day.

    kanebo veil of day

    Kanebo Veil of Day UV Protection Day Serum SPF50 PA+++ 40g


    Best Sunscreen/Skin Whitener 2-in-1

    Transino Whitening UV Protector Makeup Base SPF 50+ PA++++

     Dry Skin Makeup Base

    Transino Whitening UV Protector is the best skin whitener/sunscreen 2-in-1–although it’s actually sold as a 5-in-1 skincare product. Transino says this product can be used as a whitening cream, moisturizing milky lotion, sunscreen, makeup base, and pore cover to prevent blackheads.

    Because Transino UV Protector contains a large quantity of tranexamic acid, it restricts the production of melanin, and whitens and brightens your skin. It's also full of natural moisturizing botanicals like peony root extract, engelhardtia chrysolepis leaf extract, and Chinese skullcap extract to nourish your skin.

    It's a waterproof sunscreen suitable for the beach, but can wash off with regular soap. You can also easily apply makeup on top of it. It's hypoallergenic and contains no fragrances or colorants.

    transino whitening sunscreen


    Best Cost-Effective Sunscreen

    Rohto Hada Labo Koi Gokujyun UV White Gel SPF 50+ PA++++

    All Skin Types Bestseller

    Rohto's Hada Labo series is one of the most popular skincare ranges in Japan, so it's no wonder their Koi Gokujyun UV White Gel is one of the bestselling sunscreens at Japanese Taste with dozens of five star reviews.

    This sunscreen embodies everything good about Japanese sunscreens. It's multi-purpose, has strong UV protection, and is great for your skin. Hada Labo UV White Gel is SPF 50+ and PA++++ - the highest rating of UVB and UVA protection available. It's also full of hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, to keep your skin hydrated and soft.

    It's an incredibly lightweight formula, so it leaves your skin feeling fresh after application, not heavy and greasy like some other sunscreens might, so it's great for oily and acne-prone skin. This sunscreen sinks into your skin quickly, leaving no white cast, and it's ideal for use as a makeup base.

    It's sold as an all-in-one skincare product, so it's great for people who don't want such a time-consuming skincare routine. You can use it as a moisturizer, toner, sunscreen, and makeup base. Not only is it popular, it's extremely cost-effective at only $0.23 USD / gram, which is 65% less than the average price of sunscreens on this list.

    hada labo best japanese sunscreen

    Rohto Hada Labo Koi Gokujyun UV Gel SPF50+ PA++++ 90g



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