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Sunscreen Products, Tips and Words in Japan

A breakdown of trending sunscreens in Japan

By 5 min read

Summer in Japan is associated with matsuri (festivals) like the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto or the Tanabata Matsuri in Sendai. It’s also when the beaches get crowded with everyone trying to enjoy the season. While it’s fun experiencing all the seasonal attractions that come with the season, it’s hard to deny the unbearable heat and humidity that comes with spending the day outdoors.

Once the heat sinks in, solar ultraviolet radiation increases which can lead to sun damage like developing premature wrinkles. Thankfully a quick trip to a yakkyoku (pharmacy) and picking up a good sunscreen can help prevent this.

Sunscreen related kanji

Make sunscreen a part of your daily routine.

Here’s a quick list of sunscreen related kanji (Japanese writing) and words you might need.

English Japanese Romaji
Sunscreen hiyakedome
Tone-up (skin brightening) トーンアップ ton appu
Comes off with soap せっけんオフ / せっけんとし sekken ofu / sekken de otoshi
Sensitive skin びんかんはだ bin kan hada
Ultraviolet rays しんがいせん shin gai sen
No artificial coloring ちゃくしょく mu chaku shoku
Additive-free てん mu ten ka
Can be used as a makeup base しょうしたにも keshou shita ji ni mo

Popular sunscreens in Japan

A day in the sun without having to worry about the sun.

Sunscreen comes in an overwhelming assortment of creams, sprays, sticks, essences and aerosols. Out of the hundreds of products available in stores and online retailers in Japan, these five have been getting a lot of attention recently.

Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+

In the past, cream sunscreens have had a bad reputation for feeling heavy on the skin. Enter the lightweight, fast-absorbing sunscreen from Biore’s UV AQUA Rich Watery Essence line. As the best-selling body sunscreen on Amazon Japan, this sunscreen is a game-changer. Sunscreen under the Biore UV AQUA Rich Watery Essence line can be used for both the face and body. It is formulated using hyaluronic acid and royal jelly to retain skin moisture. This sunscreen also comes in gel and spray forms.

  • Buy Online: Amazon, Rakuten
  • For the face and body
  • Allergy tested
  • Suitable for all skin types (non-drying and non-comedogenic)
  • Waterproof

&be UV Milk

&be was created by Yusuke Kawakita, a makeup artist and social media personality who has spent over twenty years in the beauty business. The brand’s UV milk was part of the top selection at the 2021 @cosme awards, which ranks popular cosmetics in Japan. It vows to effectively protect against UVA and UVB rays, skin stressors and pollution while remaining gentle on your skin owing to its powerful blend of moisturizing and antioxidant ingredients.

  • Buy Online: Amazon, Rakuten
  • Colors: standard (non-tinted) and natural beige
  • Non-chemical
  • Formulated with natural extracts

Mediheal Teatree Soothing Sun Cream SPF 50+

Korean sheet mask titan Mediheal released its first sun cream in April this year. Promising a “moist and soothing feel”, this high coverage cream is formulated with cica (centella asiatica), the brand’s star ingredient, and tea tree oil, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This cream isn’t waterproof, however, so it may require reapplying if you pat your face dry with a towel or after sweating.

  • Buy Online: Amazon, Rakuten
  • Can be used as a make-up base
  • Protects against blue light from devices
  • Soothing formula

Allie Gel UV EX SPF 50+/PA+

Released this year, ALLIE Gel UV has already earned its share of awards and become a favorite for many. This “beach-friendly” sunscreen by Japanese brand Kanebo comes in sustainable packaging and vows to protect your skin without damaging the environment. The line also includes tone-up and sheer tinted SPFs for the face available in most drug stores across the country.

  • Buy Online: Amazon, Rakuten
  • Scented and unscented versions are available
  • Water, sweat and friction-resistant
  • Allergy-tested

Mommy UV Mild Gel for Babies and Kids by Isehan

Popular both domestically and abroad, this product by Isehan protects the delicate skin of babies and kids. Formulated with natural ingredients, this gel can be used for both face and body and shared by everyone in the family, even those with sensitive skin. There’s also a waterproof SPF 50 version available, which has a milkier texture.

  • Buy Online: Amazon, Rakuten
  • Unscented
  • No mineral oils, alcohol or additives
  • Contains aloe vera extract, jojoba oil and acerola fruit extract
  • Allergy-tested

Sunscreen FAQs

Don’t ruin a day at the beach with a sunburn!

Don’t know the best lotion for your face or how much should you apply? Here are some quick tips.

Do I need sunscreen even if it isn’t sunny?

The short answer is yes. UV rays are harmful regardless of the weather. The UV index, available on most weather apps or on the Japan Meteorological Agency website, tracks the ultraviolet solar radiation in your location and will show you how much sun protection you need daily.

Are higher SPFs better?

SPF (sun protection factor) doesn’t refer to the intensity, but to the duration of sun protection. Basically, the higher the SPF the longer the sunscreen will protect you. All sunscreens regardless of SPF level need reapplication every two hours or less, if in contact with sweat or water.

How much sunscreen should I apply to my face?

Follow the “two-finger rule”: apply two strips of sunscreen the length of your index finger on your face, chest and neck. Don’t forget to put sunscreen behind your ears, eyelids and at the back of your neck. To make sure it absorbs completely, apply it at least 15 minutes before exposure.

How can I choose the best sunscreen for my skin type?

  • Sensitive skin: look for products without alcohol or fragrance.
  • Oily skin: use sunscreens that have zinc oxide or titanium oxide and stay away from silicones or oily formulas.
  • Dry skin: check for moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid.

Remember that finding products for your skin type is important but staying consistent is equally important to reap the full benefits.

Have you tried any of the sunscreen mentioned in this post? Let us know in the comments!

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