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7 Japanese Sunscreens To Try This Summer

Last Updated on 2024-05-05 by Teni

Ready for another sweltering summer in Japan? One thing we’ll all need in our arsenal is some serious SPF. So, I’m introducing 7 Japanese sunscreens to try this summer. (Well, all year-round!)

Ever since I moved to Japan, I’ve been a fan of the sunscreens available on the domestic market. I love that the formulas are lightweight and allow my skin to BREATHE. Plus, Japanese sunscreens do a fantastic job of working double duty as primers and moisturizers while keeping the sun’s harmful rays at bay. I’m currently working on a longform “All About Japanese Sunscreens” post, but here’s a quick rundown:

A Quick Intro To Japanese Sunscreens

You might have noticed that Japanese sunscreens have a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating, usually between 35 to 50, and they use a PA (Protection Factor A) rating, too. SPF measures how well a product protects against UVB (UltraViolet B) rays that penetrate the upper layer of your skin.  

But Japanese sunscreens also measure PA, the strength of protection from UVA (UltraViolet A) rays. This is why you’ll see products measured from PA+ (the lowest level of protection) to PA++++ (the highest level of protection). UVA rays penetrate the deeper layers of skin and cause prematuring aging, which is why sunscreen is one of the biggest Japanese anti-aging beauty secrets

I use several kinds of sunscreen according to the day’s activities, heat/humidity levels, and makeup. Some sunscreens I only apply to my face, while others are more suitable for my arms and legs. My list of 7 Japanese sunscreens to try this summer are based on the products that are currently in rotation. 

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7 Japanese Sunscreens To Try This Summer


1. Shiseido Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk

Type: Milk

Rating: SPF 50+ PA++++

Scent: Citrus Soap(?)

I’m kicking off my list of 7 Japanese sunscreens to try with my Holy Grail, Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk. This sunscreen makes frequent appearances on The Wagamama Diaries, as well as beauty lists that I write for clients. This is my tried and true favorite that I absolutely swear allegiance to! And, this summer, a limited edition Pokemon version just came out, and it just makes me squeal every morning seeing Eevee on the shelf!

Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk has a dual layer milky formula that leaves my skin with a soft powdery finish — without leaving an unsightly white cast. It provides great coverage and does wonders for my oily skin, even on the most humid and active days, thanks to its “Aqua Booster Technology.” However, it’s rather pricey, so I only use it on my face, neck, and chest. As a primer, it gives my makeup a nice matte finish. The trick is to give it a real good shake and apply sparingly, then go back and apply another layer. Another thing worth mentioning is that you will need to double cleanse in order to get this stuff off your face! Check out my list of 10 J-Beauty Cleansers and Exfoliators!

Available on Amazon | Amazon Japan 

Limited Edition Eevee Version: Amazon | Amazon Japan

2. Shiseido Anessa Perfect UV Liquid

Type: Milk

Rating: SPF 50 PA+++

Scent: ???

Comparable to Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk is Shiseido Anessa Perfect UV Liquid, is a tinted sunscreen with fantastic staying power. I have to retract my previous complaint about Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk because this tinted sunscreen is very expensive — it’s around 5,000 yen for 22 mL!  With that said, since I don’t need to use liquid foundation with this product, I actually end up saving some yen. 

I do have to mention that shade that I have, (the darkest available, Ochre 40, I think) is a bit too light for my skin. I have to go over it with my trusted KATE powder foundation. Overall, this is a good choice if you’re looking for makeup and sunscreen coverage and don’t want your skin to feel weighted with a ton of product. 

Available on Amazon Japan

3.  Nivea Sun Super Water Gel Sunscreen

Type: Gel

Rating: SPF 50 and PA+++

Scent: None

Anessa is what I use on my face, chest and neck, and Nivea Sun Super Water Gel is what I use on the rest of my body. It’s a lightweight formula that glides onto the skin and is easily absorbed. Though the product has “super water” in its name, it’s unfortunately not waterproof. But, it’s a great product to have on family beach days because it comes in a pump bottle (with a cap!) and applies easily with minimal effort. I’ve mentioned my daughter’s skin troubles before and this  (along with entry #5 ) is one of the few sunscreens that she can wear without suffering any inflammation, redness, or itchiness. 

Available on Amazon | Amazon Japan

4. Awake Ray of Bright Radiance Moisturizer 

Type: Cream

Rating: SPF20 / PA++

Scent: Floral

If you’ve ever seen me in my Insta Stories with a fabulous glow as I walk around the neighborhood with my daughter and dog, it’s all because of Awake Ray of Bright Radiance Moisturizer! I still haven’t figured out if Awake is a Japanese or American brand, but this sunscreen is legit! I never thought I could pull off a dewy look, but it turns out I was just using the wrong products. 

Awake Ray of Bright Radiance Moisturizer leaves a soft, pearlescent finish, though you have to be sure to rub it in to avoid whitecast. My only “complaint” is that  Awake Ray of Bright Radiance Moisturizer is only SPF20 / PA++, so it’s not the best choice if you’re doing strenuous activities or will be out all day. 

Available on  Amazon Japan

5. Rafra UV Milk 

Type: Lotion

Rating: SPF50+ PA+++

Scent: Citrus

I don’t know where I’d be without beauty boxes, because they’ve introduced me to many products that I now genuinely love, like Rafra UV Milk. I tried Rafra Essence UV Gel in a Raxy Beauty Box and remain a fan of this brand. 

This one is a water-based lotion with a pleasant citrus scent and loaded with moisturizing ingredients like collagen, hyaluronic acid, ceramides and royal jelly. Though it is scented, it uses no artificial fragrances (or colors) and it’s gentle enough that I can apply all over my daughter’s sensitive skin. Rafra UV Milk is formulated with vitamin C derivatives and has 10 different kinds of ingredients that keep skin moisturized.

Available on Amazon Japan

6. Kose Suncut Perfect UV Gel 

Type: Gel

Rating: SPF50+PA++++

Scent: None 

I’m new to this brand and actually purchased two bottles last fall when the limited edition summer designs featuring Ariel were off-season. I thought they’d be a good backup to have on hand when Anessa runs out. The formulas, however, are completely different (2-layer milky liquid vs a creamy gel) but I can’t complain.

Kose Suncut Perfect UV Gel does a fantastic job of being an affordable and effective sunscreen. And, on top of that, the formula is waterproof! My only gripe is that the gel formula doesn’t compare to Anessa when it comes to keeping my oily forehead in check. I look sweaty after applying it, but since I wear this during my morning walks, I don’t mind. I tend to use this one for my arms and legs, though, because I don’t like the way it feels on my face.

With that said, Kose Suncut Perfect UV Gel doesn’t feel heavy and my skin feels smooth after using it.

Available on Amazon | Amazon Japan

7. Kanebo ALLIE Nuance Change UV Gel CL (Lucent Breeze)

Type: Cream

Rating: SPF 50+ PA++++

Scent: Lemony Green Tea

My most recent sunscreen arrival is ALLIE Nuance Change UV Gel CL, courtesy of My Little Box. ALLIE sunscreens boast a “Friction Proof” formula that’s resistant to sweat, water, and sebum/oil. It also uses hyaluronic acid and collagen to moisturize the skin. Lucent Breeze is one of 3 tints available in its Nuance Change UV Gel lineup. These new reformulations launched last year as pearlescent sunscreens to enhance the skin’s tone and luminescence. 

ALLIE Nuance Change UV Gel CL Lucent Breeze uses menthol for a cooling effect, perfect for those hot humid days! However, it leaves a pearlescent/blueish tint on my skin. If “whitening”/brightening” is your thing then I’m sure it’s a good one, though!

Available on  Amazon Japan

Bonus: 5 Tips for Summer Skincare

7 Japanese Sunscreens To Try This Summer



More summer in Japan posts:

50 Must-Haves For Summer in Japan

Get Glowing Skin This Summer — 10 Japanese Skincare Products To Try

The Colorful World of Japanese Tinted Sunscreens

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