Effective and High Quality Japanese Sunscreens!

[Recommendations From Tokyo's Female College Students] UV rays are a top concern when summer comes around, especially for women, since it is the cause of many skin problems. In truth, UV rays hit our skin throughout the year and not just in summer. Check out these recommended sunscreens from Japanese brands and prepare yourself for the upcoming summer!



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Why are Japanese sunscreens so popular?

Did you know that Japanese sunscreens enjoy a high level of popularity overseas? Here are 2 reasons why.

1. Japanese sunscreens block both UVA and UBB!


Here's some basic information about ultraviolet rays. 

To start, there are 3 types of ultraviolet rays.

The first type, ultraviolet A (UVA) reaches deep into our skin and is the cause of problems like wrinkles and sagging. The second type, ultraviolet B (UVB), causes inflammation on the surface of our skin and leads to issues like freckles and spots. Lastly, there's ultraviolet C which has the biggest impact on the human body. It's usually blocked by the ozone layer before it reaches us.

The SPF value that you usually see on sunscreen packaging is a number that mainly represents the product's ability to block out UVB. Additionally, you may see a number for PA as well, and that represents the product's ability to block out UVA. In Japan, it is common to list the product's ability to block UVA and UVB separately, but in America, for example, PA is not listed. "Broad Spectrum" is listed instead but since this is a combined value for the product's effectiveness against UVA and UVB, it's recommended for people who're particular about their sunscreen to go with Japanese products.

2. Comfortable on the skin and a feeling of freshness!


The Japanese products are light and don't turn white, so you won't have to deal with the hassle of adjusting the color by layering foundation on top. They don't give off a strong smell and can be applied with ease.


So why is sunscreen important?

The ultraviolet rays from the sun hit our skin repeatedly, day after day. While it is required by our body to produce vitamin D, over-exposure leads to issues like spots, freckles and even worse, the possibility of contracting illness. Sunscreen blocks the ultraviolet rays and is used to protect our body from these problems. The easiest way to work it into our daily routine is to apply it easily before going out or putting on makeup. Since ultraviolet rays are not an issue that comes up only in summer, it is also effective to use it on a daily basis.


When it comes to Japan, you should watch out for ultraviolet rays once the rainy season starts!


In Japan, a country with the 4 seasons, June marks the start of continuous days of rain, or what's known as the Japanese rainy season. You may think that since it's rainy and cloudy, it's okay to skip the sunscreen but the Japan Meteorological Agency's data shows that ultraviolet rays are at their strongest between June and August. This means that the rays are hitting our skin even during the rainy season in June. Don't forget to guard against the ultraviolet rays even on cloudy days.


The evolution of sunscreen


With this knowledge, even people who cared little for sunscreen before would start to appreciate the importance of its use. Today, there is a wide variety of sunscreens available from the various manufacturers. Originally, it was mostly liquid/cream types in bottles that needed to be applied on the skin. However, there are now spray types, ones with cooling effects, and even ones that you drink. Additionally, some products are so gentle on the skin that it can even be used on babies without causing irritation, so both parents and children can guard against the harmful ultraviolet rays.

Here are recommended sunscreens of different types, including some that act as a makeup base. You'll be sure to find something suitable in this list!

Lotion/Essence Type


Lotion/essence type sunscreens don't usually end up looking white and are typically easy to apply.  However, compared to other types, they are easily washed away by sweat, so you'll need to pay attention and re-apply it frequently. 

1. Repeatedly topping review site rankings - Kao Bioré UV AQUA Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+

Get this if you have trouble deciding which one to buy. Apart from its reasonable price, it also offers decent protection against the ultraviolet rays. This sunscreen was actually a winner in the Best Cosmetic category in the cosmetic rankings on a cosmetic review site in Japan. In 2017, a new, improved version of the AQUA Rich was put on the market. The ease of application and comfort on the skin remains the same, but the product is now even more resistant to sweat. The water capsules stay on the skin so your skin feels great all the time.

Kao Bioré UV AQUA Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+

Price: Open price

Details: SPF 50+ / PA ++++, watery with the aroma of fresh fruits, dries clear, sunscreen (for use on face, body)

Availability: At major drugstores 

HP: www.kao.co.jp/bioreuv/ (Japanese Only)

2. A unique product made from Japanese soy milk - Tofu No Moritaya Soy Milk UV Beauty Essence Shizen Seikatsu

Tofu No Moritaya started producing make-up products with soy milk in them, taking a hint from the beautiful hands of tofu makers. These soy milk make-up products enjoy strong support from female customers. What sets Tofu No Moritaya apart is its insistence on the quality of the soy milk used. They use soy milk that is 1.5 times as concentrated as regular soy milk, creating products that are as gentle and comfortable on the skin as the soy milk that we drink. This product can be applied smoothly and acts as a sunscreen, beauty essence, and make-up base.

Tofu No Moritaya Soy Milk UV Beauty Essence Shizen Seikatsu

Price: 30ml / 4,320 yen

Details: SPF 25, PA+++, fragrance-free, coloring-free, mineral oil-free, paraben-free

Availability: Official online store, authorized dealers (Tokyu Hands Shibuya, Ikebukuro Loft etc.)

HP: www.tofu-moritaya.com(Japanese only)


Gel Type


The main characteristic of gel type sunscreens is that they're not as sticky as the cream types that are easier to absorb into the skin. They can be applied smoothly even during the sweaty summers.

1. Potent effects but gentle on the skin - NIVEA-Kao NIVEA Sun Protect Water Gel SPF 50

This is an affordably priced sunscreen from NIVEA that's conveniently available at major drugstores. The high SPF is one thing, but the gel seems to melt into the skin upon application, leaving a familiarly pleasant feeling. The ingredients include hyaluronic acid and plant essences, protecting you from ultraviolet rays while staying gentle to the skin.

The NIVEA-Kao NIVEA Sun Protect Water Gel SPF 50 is available in a bottle, making it convenient to carry when out with the kids.  It's a sunscreen that is useful for any occasion.

NIVEA-Kao NIVEA Sun Protect Water Gel SPF 50

Price: Open price

Details: SPF 50, PA+++, fragrance-free, coloring-free, sunscreen (for use on face, body)

Availability: Drugstores, selected supermarkets, selected home centers, selected convenience stores

HP: www.nivea.co.jp  (Japanese only)

2. Stay hydrated even under the scorching summer sun - Kanebo Cosmetics ALLIE Extra UV Gel (Mineral Moist NEO)

The ALLIE is a well-known product that has topped the rankings in review sites in the past. This product stands out for its hydrating properties and the ease of application of the gel. Additionally, it's waterproof so it's great when you're headed out for water sports in the summer. It's made with Skin Fit technology, so the gel will stick close to the skin even on uneven surfaces like the corners of your nose. 

Kanebo Cosmetics ALLIE Extra UV Gel (Mineral Moist NEO)

Price: 90g / RRP: 2,800 yen plus tax, 40g / RRP: 1,400yen plus tax

Details: SPF 50+, PA++++, fragrance-free, coloring-free, sunscreen (for use on face, body)

Availability: Drugstores

HP: www.kanebo-cosmetics.jp/products/cn/ (Chinese)

HP: www.allie-uv.jp (Japanese)


Lotion Type


The lotion type is recommended for those who dislike sticky sunscreen. Your skin will feel nice, as if you've just applied a skin care product.

1. No worries even if you have sensitive skin; sunscreen that's suitable for the whole family - Kao Curél UV Lotion SPF 50+

Lotion sunscreen is recommended for those with weak or sensitive skin. The absence of UV absorbing agents is also a plus point, making it suitable for use when heading outdoors with children. Curél is also known for its incorporation of ceramide. Ceramide is naturally found in the skin and protects it from external irritants like ultraviolet rays. Kill two birds with one stone; get protection from ultraviolet rays and ceramide care at the same time!

Kao Curél UV Lotion SPF 50+


Details: SPF 50+, PA+++, fragrance-free, coloring-free, sunscreen (for use on face, body)

Availability: Drugstores

HP: www.kao.co.jp/curel/ (Japanese Only)

2. A new sunscreen experience! - KOSÉ SportsBeauty UVWEAR Super Smooth

Does your sunscreen wear off after you perspire even though you'd applied it before you left home in the morning? This is a common challenge many people face and one that this sunscreen solves. The Protect Wear formula enables the sunscreen to resist sweat, water and oil, adhering to the skin and protecting it from the harsh ultraviolet rays. It's got a non-sticky finish and cooling effect that will leave you wondering if it's really sunscreen that you'd just applied. The SportsBeauty is the official sunscreen for the JAL Honolulu Marathon; it's perfect for your summer sporting needs! The super smooth milk type Sarasara Change formula gives you smooth skin so this sunscreen is both long-lasting and comfortable.

KOSÉ SportsBeauty UVWear Super Smooth

Price: Open price

Availability: Drugstores

Details: SPF 50+, PA++++, refreshing scent, coloring free, sunscreen (for use on face, body), super waterproof

HP: www.kose.co.jp/sportsbeauty/ (Japanese only)

3. UV care that you can understand just by looking - FUJIFILM ASTALIFT White Perfect UV Clear Solution

This UV blocking make-up base from FUJIFILM penetrates deep into the skin, cutting off even the deep ultraviolet rays. The "UV Action Capsules" add to the ultraviolet repelling effects. Beauty essence is released from the capsules so it helps to prevent your skin from drying under the heat, keeping it beautiful. What's more interesting is the UV sensor cap that will change colors when exposed to ultraviolet rays. You'll be able to tell just how much ultraviolet rays are present just by looking at the cap! This is a valuable make-up base to have in your anti-UV arsenal!

FUJIFILM ASTALIFT White Perfect UV Clear Solution

Price: 30g / 3,900 yen plus tax

Details: SPF 50+, PA++++, pleasing Damask Rose fragrance,  pink color that tones up the skin tone

Availability: Official online store, authorized dealers (drugstores, variety shops etc.)

HP: www.astalift.com.sg/index.php?route=product/product&path=62&product_id=72

HP: h.fujifilm.jp/special/taiwan/astalift/index.html (Traditional Chinese)

HP: shop-healthcare.fujifilm.jp/special/astalift-white/uv/ (Japanese)

4. A brand that is highly trusted by women - SK-II Atmosphere Airy Light UV Emulsion SPF 30 PA +++

SK-II is well-loved in Japan and overseas. The smooth milky lotion will give your skin a lovely texture, making it look even better than before. When you use this product, your skin will look like it has come alive. The lotion also includes beauty essence, protecting your skin from ultraviolet rays, infrared rays and air pollution while making your skin healthier. You'll never let go of this product once you start using it.

SK-II Atmosphere Airy Light UV Emulsion SPF 30 PA+++

Price: Open price

Details: SPF 30, PA+++, fragrance-free, coloring-free, sunscreen (for use on face, body) 

Availability: Official online store, authorized dealers (Matsumoto Kiyoshi Shibuya Part 1, Shinjuku Takashimaya etc.)

HP: www.sk-ii.com

HP: www.sk-ii.com.hk (Traditional Chinese)

HP: www.sk-ii.jp  (Japanese) *You can search for the list of authorized dealers here


Cream Type


With strong moisturizing properties, the cream type sunscreen is perfect for those with dry skin. However, they don't come off easily and you'll need to take care to cleanse properly to prevent it from causing acne or rough skin.  

1. Beautiful aesthetics with Hollywood-class UV protection - Shiseido Clé de Peau Beauté Cream Protection UV

While this is a cream type sunscreen, it's popular for being light and leaving the skin with a smooth finish. It can also be used as a makeup base, so it's perfect for saving time on busy mornings. Roses are used in the product to give it a refreshing scent - yet another charming feature of this product!

Shiseido Clé de Peau Beauté Cream Protection UV

Price: 50g / 9,000 yen plus tax

Details: SPF 50+, PA++++, flowery fragrance, beige color, sunscreen (for use on face, body)

Availability: Authorized dealers (GINZA SIX, Shibuya Hikarie etc.)

HP: http://www.cledepeaubeaute.com

HP: http://www.cledepeau-beaute.com/hk/ (Traditional Chinese)

HP: http://www.cledepeau-beaute.com/jp (Japanese)


Spray Type


The advantage of spray types is that you can apply sunscreen without getting your hands dirty. It also makes it easy to apply sunscreen to hard-to-reach places like your back. You can even use it on your hair, enabling you to protect it from harmful ultraviolet rays.

1. No worries even if your makeup gets messed up in summer - Ishizawa Laboratories Shigaisen Yoho Meiku Wo Mamoru UV Spray

Is your make-up perfect in the morning but a complete mess when you check it in the evening? Isn't that a common occurrence for many women, especially in the summer heat? Enter the Shigaisen Yoho Meiku Wo Mamoru UV Spray. It's a sunscreen that goes on top of your make-up, drying clear without that white look at everyone dreads. It also prevents shine so your make-up can stay pretty throughout the day.

Ishizawa Laboratories Shigaisen Yoho Meiku Wo Mamoru UV Spray 

Price: 60g / 1,500 yen plus tax

Details: SPF 50+, PA++++, fragrance-free, coloring-free, sunscreen spray (for use on face)

HP: www.ishizawa-lab.co.jp (Japanese only; automatic translation available for simplified and traditional Chinese)


Originally made just to prevent sunburn, sunscreens now prevent aging, beautify and to prevent skin cancer and other diseases as well.  Make the sun a friend, not an enemy this summer and enjoy the outdoors to the fullest!

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

About the author

Taking the train and going around Japan is a favorite holiday option for me. Japanese history, culture, and pop culture have been my interest for over 20 years, and I'd love to share more about these with you!

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