For the past few years, I’ve been trying to take my facial sunscreen more seriously. Usually, I would just slather on whatever body sunscreen we had on hand, along with a hat and called it a day. I was miserable the whole time because it was always thick and heavy and sticky. Finally, this is the first year I really started exploring Japanese sunscreens. Most really nice facial sunscreens at Ulta and Sephora are so expensive, like $30+ a tube, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that two out of three of my Japanese favorites are under $15!
The first one I tried was the Biore Aqua Rich. It was a game changer for me! I have oily skin, especially in the summer and all of the American sunscreens I have tried always left me feeling sticky and greasy. This one literally feels like water on the skin and it plays under makeup well. It contains royal jelly extract and hyaluronic acid to maintain the moisture in the skin without weighing it down. It is waterproof for eighty minutes and has no white cast.*
Next I tried the Nivea Super Water Gel because it seemed very similar to the Biore. I figured it would be nice to have a back-up option in case the Biore was ever out of stock. The Nivea is also SPF 50 and absorbs really nicely without any weight. It also has hyaluronic acid. The big difference between the two is that the Nivea is not waterproof.*
The Shiseido sunscreen stick is more of a splurge at $29, but I mostly use it for reapplication on days I’m outside a lot, so to me, it’s worth it. I am not going to claim the stick is perfect over makeup. If you press too hard or wipe too much, some of your makeup may rub off, especially if you don’t use a setting spray to set your makeup. But I feel like a little makeup lost is better than using an SPF spray or powder (the other two popular versions of sunscreen for reapplying throughout the day) and not having complete coverage. The Shiseido stick is definitely a little heavier than the Biore or Nivea, but it doesn’t feel greasy or leave a lot of shine. It’s waterproof for eighty minutes and reef-friendly (which the other two don’t mention.) The stick is so convenient–I carry it in my pencil case so I always have sunscreen with me.
I recently read this article in The Atlantic that explains why American sunscreens lag so far behind their Asian and European counterparts. (Spoiler alert–the FDA is holding things up!) I definitely suggest testing Korean and Japanese brands if you’re having trouble finding a good sunscreen for your face, because like many things…Japan Does It Better!
*Thanks to Naoto for translating the Japanese packaging.
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P.P.S. The links are not affiliate links–I’m just sharing where I initially made the purchases of the three sunscreens.