Although many people forget about it sun protection is a very important part of the skin care routine since it prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, freckles, spots and ultimately skin cancer caused by ultraviolet rays.
To understand how we can protect from sun damage first we have to understand the different uv rays and how they affect our skin.
Types of UV rays and how do they affect your skin
How do you tell the different UV rays apart and how do they affect your skin?
The sun emits three different types of UV radiation: UVA, UVB, and UVC:
- UVA: long waves, accounts for 95% of UV radiation that reaches the earth. It penetrates the skin's second layer and causes wrinkles and skin ageing.
- UVB: short waves, tends to damage the skin's top layers. It causes skin reddening, sunburn and damages the skin's DNA.
- UVC: shortest of all uv rays never reaches the earth because the ozone absorbs it. However, it can be found in man-made sources like mercury lamps and welding torches.
How to protect from UV rays
To avoid wrinkles, sun spots, sunburns, skin's DNA damage and ultimately skin cancer we should protect from the different types of UV rays.
By arming yourself with a broad spectrum sunscreen, protective UPF clothing and sunglasses with UV coating, you can safely enjoy outdoor activities without worrying about the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays.
But because UVA rays also penetrate clouds and glasses we should also protect ourselves when we are inside our home or car. For that, it is recommended to apply UV-protective films to your house, car or office windows to avoid sun damaged skin.
What is the role of sunscreen
Sunscreen plays an important role in a complete sun protection strategy because they have the ability to block UVA and UVB rays.
When used in the right direction good sunscreens have been proven to help prevent sun spots, sunburns, skin aging and skin cancer, the most common cancer in the world.
Why are Japanese sunscreens better?
Japanese sunscreens huge variety and features
It is a fact that Japanese sunscreens are one of the top selling Japanese cosmetics categories because of their effectiveness, quality, huge variety and relatively affordable prices.
Every year Japanese cosmetic brands introduce new sunscreens or improve existing sunscreens with new ingredients, features and functions.
UVA and UVB protection and clear product label information
For most effective protection, you need to block against UVB and UVA rays and Japanese sunscreens are very effective at this and at an affordable price.
Japanese sunscreens include clear information on the product labels about protection against UVB and UVA (the ultraviolet rays that cause tanning and premature aging). The dangers of UVA are well known so it is important to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with clear information on the product label.
In this regard, Japanese sunscreens include both the 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.
- PA stands for Protective Grade of UVA and measures the sunscreen's ability to block UVA rays. Similar to SPF rating the higher the PA number the more you are protected against sun damage.
More access to ingredients
Finally, in Japan sunscreens are considered cosmetics so they are not regulated as over-the-counter drugs. Because of this reason Japanese sunscreen manufacturers have more effective ingredients to choose from compared to manufacturers in other countries where sunscreens are considered OTC drugs.
Are Japanese sunscreens safe?
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.
Aside from the active ingredients, sunscreens might contain additional ingredients such as vitamins, preservatives, fragrances, emolients, antioxidants, etc.
Because they have a complex formulation it is important to choose a sunscreen that not only protects from ultraviolet rays but also it is gentle to the skin and environment.
In this regard, physical sunscreens are less prone to irritate the skin but both types have been tested as safe and effective.
In fact, many of the sun care products available today combine both physical and chemical sunscreen ingredients so the important thing is to test which type of sunscreen is the most appropriate for our own skin.
Japanese sunscreens have clear product label information and are made under strict controls of production. In addition, they come in many types and forms so you have many choices available to make the best decision for your health and our environment.
Best Japanese sunscreens
If you are wondering which Japanese sunscreens to try this summer you should definitely check out this list of most popular sunscreens.
Handy-sized sunscreen with a watery texture that spreads smoothly on the skin. Packed with 85% of beautifying ingredients and powered with the highest UV protection available to keep your skin moisturized and effectively protected.
Kao Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel and Essence
Light-weight sunscreen that in contact with the skin creates an uneven watery veil to prevent the formation of micro-gaps and completely protect the skin from UV damage.
Different sizes and textures are available for Bioré UV Aqua Rich Sunscreen series.
Very light-weight Japanese sunscreen that spreads smoothly on the skin without leaving any white cast or stickiness.
Formulated with coenzyme Q10, hyaluronic acid and Japanese mineral water to keep your skin moisturized and elastic during long-time.
Shiseido Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen
High protective and super waterproof Japanese sunscreen that has the ability to increase the protection against UV rays when the skin gets in contact with water or sweat. Other sunscreens thin out in contact with water but Anessa sunscreens become stronger instead!
Anessa sunscreens come in different types and textures so you can choose the most suitable for your skin needs.
Nivea is a very popular European brand for beauty and body-care products. 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).
Nivea sunscreens manufactured in Japan feature high UV protection yet they are light-weight and protect the skin from dryness.