A Simple Guide to Japanese Sunscreen | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
a photo of a pair of hands with one squeezing sunscreen onto the other hand

A Simple Guide to Japanese Sunscreen

By Margherita Aug 1, 2022

Hot and sunny summer days are fun to spend outdoors, but the Japanese know how easy it is to get burnt—that is why Japanese sunscreen is some of the best you can find on the market, and we are here to uncover what you need to know before buying some.

What You Need to Know About Japanese Sunscreen

First of all, let’s make a couple of concepts around sunscreen clear.

When choosing Japanese—or any—sunscreen, it is important to pay attention to three elements: SPF, PA ratings, and the type of sunscreen.

SPF, aka the sun protection factor, indicates how much time it will take for your skin to burn and, therefore, how long that particular sunscreen will protect you from sunburn (UVB radiation). As a general rule of thumb, the higher, the better.

No matter how high the SPF is, though, some UV radiation will always get through the sunscreen barrier, so make sure to wear clothes to protect you from direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day and seasons when the sun is stronger.

The second, but no less important, criteria to consider when picking up sunscreen from your drugstore is PA. PA, short for “protection grade UVA,” measures and indicates the spectrum of protection against UVA radiation.

A fun fact: the PA rating system was actually developed in Japan in 1996! PA values range from low and moderate UVA protection (PA+ and PA++) to high (PA+++) and extremely high UVA protection (PA++++).

Now that you know what to consider when choosing a strong and reliable sunscreen, let’s take a look at different textures and types of sunscreen and a few of our budget-friendly recommendations.

a photo of a woman rubbing sunscreen onto their arm

Image credit: Canva

7 Different Types of Japanese Sunscreen 

Seven (seven!) different types of sunscreen are available in Japan: you can choose between cream, milk, gel, lotion, spray, powder, and stick.

Cream and Milk

The heaviest but most effective sunscreen when it comes to protecting your skin is the one that comes in the form of cream or milk.

The cream type is thicker and a bit more difficult to spread, but it is long-lasting and moisturizing. The milk one has a film-like feeling, being something lighter than cream. It is easier to spread and ideal for sensitive skin.

Our Recommendation: ALLIE Chrono Beauty Milk and Gel UV

ALLIE is an eco-friendly sunscreen brand created in 2000. The milk formulation is smooth, ultra water- and sweat-resistant, with hyaluronic acid to keep the skin moisturized.

The gel version is resistant to friction and has a fresh, non-sticky feel.

Gel and Lotion

Next up are gel and lotion.

Sunscreen gels and sunscreen lotions have light and fresh textures. Both are extremely easy to apply and feel super light on the skin, especially on hot summer days. However, since they are thin and close to a liquid consistency, they are not long-lasting so remember to reapply them frequently.

Our Recommendation: Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel

One of the most loved, best-selling gel sunscreens on the market right now is Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel.

This Biore water-base sunblock is light and spreads smoothly, preventing an uneven coating of the product to a micro level. The SPF 50+ and PA++++ rating ensure high coverage against UV and UVA and make this sunblock gel a perfect makeup primer, leaving the skin moisturized but not sticky.

a photo of a person spraying sunscreen onto their arm

Image credit: Canva

Spray, Powder, and Stick 

Last but not least, sunscreen can also come in spray, powder, or stick form.

Spray, powder, and stick types are the easiest to carry around and the most convenient for reapplication, even over makeup, when you are busy running errands.

However, these types are the least effective against actual UV-ray protection, even with a high SPF and PA. It is better to avoid using them by themselves and to apply them in conjunction with creams or gels as much as possible.

Sunscreen powder can be used on top of makeup to reduce the stickiness of sunscreen and to keep the skin smooth.

Our Recommendation: Anessa Perfect UV Spray Sunscreen

Anessa Perfect UV Spray sunscreen’s 2022 formula is highly resistant to humidity and water, creating a strong and uniform barrier against UV rays. It can be used on the face, body, and air and can also be easily removed with face or body soap. Perfect when in a hurry or when you simply do not want to get your hands sticky with cream or gel.

Protect Your Skin Using Japanese Sunscreen This Summer

It’s the hottest and sunniest time of the year, so whether you are roaming around the city or laying down on a sandy beach, do not forget to apply a generous amount of your favorite Japanese sunscreen to keep your skin healthy.

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Featured image credit: Canva