May 18, 2015

The Best Japanese SPF and Sunscreens

I purchased this item and I receive a small commission if you shop using the links in this post.

japanese sunscreens

I wanted to compile a rather small list of the best Japanese SPF and Sunscreens that I’ve personally used and loved for many a fine year. I’ve used a lot of Japanese sunscreens over the years but three featured in this post are ones I come to back to again and again and again because I love how well they perform, how great they look and feel under makeup, and how fabulous the formula is.

Unfortunately, the US market hasn’t quite caught up to the Japanese one when it comes to creating lightweight, easy to absorb SPF formulas. I truly believe the Japanese excel at this which is one of the reason I purchase sunscreen products from Japan. They also happen to be affordable picks as well!

Let’s take a look!

japanese spf

Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+ PA++++
This is by far one of my favorite gel based SPF sunscreens! This is actually promoted to “apply like water” and can be used on both your face and body. The texture is that of a gel and absorbs into skin so easily without leaving behind a heavy, sticky feel. There is not pastiness or chalky finish with this product and it leaves skin feeling quite hydrated. It’s unfortunately not waterproof nor a particularly good choice if you prefer a more matte SPF. It was actually discontinued last year but recently became available again in new packaging and reformulated to meet Japanese SPF standards plus, as pictured on the left, it now comes in a limited rose fragrance formula (the original has a subtle citrus scent).

Biore UV AQUA Rich Watery Mousse SPF 50+ PA++++
This is actually just as lovely as the Watery Essence formula (although I like the Watery Essence a bit better) with a mousse-like texture that absorbs equally easily into the skin and features hyaluronic acid that adds moisture and helps retain it. The texture is interesting in the fact it has a whipped up mousse formula that quickly breaks down and turns watery as you apply it on skin. It’s very light and leaves my skin nicely hydrated. It’s unfortunately not waterproof but absorbs easily into skin.

Kanebo Allie Extra UV Gel Mineral Moist N SPF SPF 50+ PA++++
Allie’s Gel Mineral Moist is actually one of the formula I use the most often! This absorbs SO easily it’s like a lightweight moisturizer! The gel texture was newly formulated and acts to bond to the skin making it perfect for warm weather as it resists water, sweat, and sebum allowing it to remain on your skin for a longer amount of time offering better protection.

japanese sunscreen swatches

Swatch Above: Watery Essence, Watery Mousse, Mineral Moist

These are just some of the many great SPF and Sunscreen formulas that can be found in Japan. The main reason I love Japanese SPF formulas is the fact they absorb so easily and feel like I’m applying moisturizer versus SPF. Here in the US many SPFs are formulated with a very heavy texture that don’t absorb easily. Sometimes you’re forced to wait several minutes to apply your makeup as well! Not the case with Japanese formulas! They tend to apply easily, absorb easily, and allow for instant makeup application.

These are a few that top my “Best of” list but there are literally dozens and dozens of others that are equally great!

You can shop these and others from seller AlphabeautyUK.

Do you have a favorite Japanese sunscreen?

Do share!

I purchased this item and I receive a small commission if you shop using the links in this post.

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

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  • malini

    Hi is etude house sunprise must daily good or similar to these? Just thought of ordering that

  • Patricia

    Hi Isabella!
    I found out about Japaneses sunscreens a few months ago and soon bought some to test them on me. I bought the three versions of Biore (blue, pink and white) and love them all.
    After years using American ones, after tried the Biore, I don’t want to return to the ocidental ones.

    As I live in Brazil, I have almost the same difficultes to buy any foreign brand. Thanks to eBay, I have no complains and always have a few as backups.


    • Isabella Muse

      I am so happy to hear it Pat 🙂 Japanese sunscreens are definitely ahead of the game and I’m happy people are discovering the great formulas out there 😀

  • Rebecca

    I love how much easier to absorb the Japanese and Korean sunscreens are. It makes SPF application feel like less of a chore and more of a proper skincare step IYKWM.

  • Dee

    Just wanted to say I bought both the Biore UV AQUA Rich Watery Mousse and Essence a year ago based on your reviews and love them BOTH !! ty

  • Katherine T.

    Muse, I’m really interested in these sunscreens, but is there an ingredient list in English? I’m sensitive to SD or denatured alcohol and fragrance, and I want to know more about the sunscreen ingredients (natural, chemical, broad spectrum). Thanks

    • Isabella Muse

      Unfortunately I don’t have a complete ingred list at the moment Katherine but googling should reveal these 🙂

    • Patricia

      Check at Amazon – they sell a lot of Japanese sunscreens and some of them have the ingredients on the Description or the Customer Questions & Answers.
      Good luck!


  • Ashley

    I wonder when we will be able to buy these products here in the states? If enough women here purchase them, surely they will develop a cult following.
    How do you know so much about Japanese skincare products? Do you buy them randomly online? Did you yourself read reviews online from other bloggers and then decide to try them? I’m curious. I’ve never purchased any beauty product from overseas. You seem to know a lot about Japanese products. What made you become curious in trying their products? Curiosity?

    • Isabella Muse

      I’ve been to Japan a few times Ashley and developed a love of Japanese cosmetics/makeup during those visits 🙂

    • Isabella Muse

      typically $8 to $10 Japanese retail but typically online around $14.

  • Zoe

    I recently found out why so many Asian and European sunscreen has much better textures- it has to do with ingredient regulations by the FDA. But some sort of legislation is going to be put into effect soon to make it easier for US companies to use the same components. Excited form that any, but unail then it’s great to read about these Japanese products!

  • Vanilladreamcream

    After reading your review of suncreens, I went to buy Biore UV AQUA Rich Watery Mousse. However I felt that it was too suffocating. I wanted something that was light but was moisturizing. It’s definitely lighter than a lot of the US ones (like neutrogena ultrasheer dry touch and aveeno positively radiant) but it left a major white cast and it felt like something was on my face the whole time and was uncomfortable. I wanted to wash my face off asap at the end of the day. I don’t know if I had slathered too much because I did put two layers on because I was outdoor the entire day but it wasn’t as comfortable as I thought it would be. I don’t know if it’s because they changed the formula because it’s supposedly the 2014 edition. I actually like the texture of sana’s morning kiss that you reviewed earlier. Out of all the sunscreen you have tried, which is most like sana’s morning kiss skincare base but is a good outdoor sunscreen? thank you

    • Isabella Muse

      Sorry to hear it VanillaDreamCream! 🙁 Perhaps try the watery essence, the texture is a gel and a little lighter than the mousse version. Unfortunately, haven’t really run across a texture like morning kiss!

    • Kimberly

      Hey @Vanilladreamcream, try Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel. Even though it says “Gel”, it most definitely isn’t a gel. It’s a thin lotion that’s hydrating and wonderful as a foundation primer/base. Another great one is Biore UV Kid’s Milk. I think it’s alcohol free and is hydrating and a great foundation primer/base. I have dry skin and really love both of these sunscreens. They set and dry down very well, leaving the skin feeling silky and hydrated without any white cast or greasiness! I love and rotate between the 2. Cannot recommend them highly enough. I order mine from eBay, and they usually cost around $10-$12. Good luck! Xoxo.

  • Nikki

    I have these! On the stage of testing so I’m quite excited to read your experience using this since we both have the same skin type 😀

  • joseph valenti

    The Neutrogena Ultra Light Liquid Spf 70, gives a pretty close approximate feeling as the Japanese sunscreens, I wish more companies made them in America !

  • reehana Shah

    There is just nothing comparable in the US market for Japanese sunscreen. I’ve been so reluctant to buy any ever since I ran out of my stockpile that I picked up when I was in Japan. Thanks for listing a reliable ebay buyer!

  • Elena

    I tried the Biore face milk 50+++ oil absorbing face lotion after seeing it or something similar on your blog a few years ago. I have never looked back and nothing works as well. I have to get it on ebay but I don’t care, I love it!

  • Linda

    I’ve been using Hada-Labo UV, SPF 50+. It goes on like a gel. I really like it. I bought it on Amazon, and will likely repurchase this formula.

  • HapaGirl

    YASSSS KWEEN!!! I love me some Japanese sunscreens. I just got back from a trip to Japan and I shamelessly stocked up on Biore Aqua rich watery essence. There’s also a more runny, watery formula (with a fine tip nozzle) that I bought – formula is the same, maybe a bit lighter for oily skinned gals like myself. I went to a cheap grocery store/department store near my relative’s house and got a bunch of extra big tubes for less than 900 yen, which is a steal considering how strong the dollar is right now!!

    • Isabella Muse

      interesting haven’t seen that Hapa gotta look for it!!!!!!!!! that’s typically the price, some drugstores in Japan also have sales for 30%! that makes it an even better deal 😀

      • Linda

        I use the UV Creamy Gel (Hada- Labo). It’s in the light blue tube. Hope you had a great vacation. Glad you’re back. Love your honesty, style and the wide range of products you review!

        • Isabella Muse

          thank you Linda! this comment made my day 🙂 hugs!

  • Nacchan

    I’ve used the skin aqua uv moisture gel spf 35 +++ i like it, it’s light and absorbs fast! but lately i’ve been using the skin skin aqua uv moisture milk spf 50+++ and it’s even lighter!

    I need to get my hands on the biore one!

  • Sarah

    I’ll have to try some of these. I HAVE to wear sunscreen when I go out, but everything here in the US is just heavy, uncomfortable and makes a mess of my cloths. So, I tend to not use sunscreen on a daily basis (with the exception of my face products that all have SPF). I only put it on if I’ll be outside for longer than 5 minuets, and it’s too hot for long sleeves and pants or I can’t take an umbrella for shade. That means I’m pretty much a shut in or I look like Ralph’s kid brother in A Christmas Story, only in July. Seriously, I don’t spend time outside at all. I’d like to be able to have something I can use on a daily basis and actually go outside whenever I want without having to completely cover up or change into clothing I’m ok getting sun block all over (cuz I have to put sunblock on every inch of skin not covered by a bra or underwear not just the exposed bits.)

  • Janie

    Hi Muse! I’ve been following your blog a long time. Thank you for this post! I’m going to Korea soon; do you have any Korean SPF recommendations?

    • Isabella Muse

      hi Janie! Yay lucky you! I don’t really use Korean SPFs in all honesty so I don’t have any recs for them. I’m more a Japanese SPF fan! Although Etude House does put out their “play” spfs every year and those are apparently very popular maybe check them out in store? Have fun on your trip!!!!!!!