The Best Japanese Sunscreen


When I was living in Tokyo and buying Japanese sunscreen for the first time, I didn’t know my whole concept of sunscreen was about to change forever. Instead of realizing this, I was confused in the drugstore, attempting to translate the labels and choose from a selection of products that all looked very similar to me.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with sunscreen. While I love that it protects me, with my sensitive combination skin, I tend to burn easily and sunscreen has always wreaked havoc on my face. It’s caused all manner of traumas and I’d never found one I liked.

And then I (accidentally) discovered the best sunscreen in the world. I’m fairly minimal when it comes to beauty and maintenance. If a product runs out (even in a foreign country) I’ll just go and buy the nearest alternative. That is not however, the case with my sunscreen.

The Best Japanese Sunscreen

Nivea Sun Super Water Gel Japanese Sunscreen
The Winner
Nivea Sun Protect Super Water Gel

This is the first Japanese sunscreen I happened to buy. It has a cult following and has become my holy grail of sunscreen ever since. If you do nothing else, buy this sunscreen.

This Japanese sunscreen has a thin gel consistency, which makes it easy to apply in a nice light layer. A little bit goes a long way. You can barely feel it on your face and it is non-greasy. It dries quickly with a matte finish, and has a very slight tacky consistency. The gel is translucent and it stays like that, with no risk of white streaks or chalky residue, especially on darker skin.

The product is perfect for oily, combination, acne-prone and/or sensitive skin. I’ve never experienced breakouts, not even in incredibly humid Japanese summers. It doesn’t really have much of a fragrance and can be used on both the face and body.

In terms of protection, Japanese sunscreen has two measurements. PA is a measurement for preventing ultraviolet A waves (UV-A) and this sunscreen has PA+++. The more + the better, and there is only level above this. SPF is a measurement for preventing ultraviolet B waves (UV-B) and this sunscreen is SPF 50.

Nivea Sun Protect Super Water Gel comes in both pump packs and small bottles too, which I’ve come to love as they are incredibly practical for taking everywhere, even in carry on luggage. I have mailed it in bulk to overseas friends who adore it and when I moved away from Japan myself, I packed quite a few bottles to take with me. Luckily, it can now be ordered on Amazon.

Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence Japan Sunscreen
The Runner Up
Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence

My second favorite Japanese sunscreen is this product by Biore and it is very similar to the Nivea product in many ways. It has a thin consistency and is easy to apply. It’s non-greasy, dries matte (slightly tacky) and is great for sensitive skin too. It is suitable for face and body, and also has a cult following too.

In terms of differences, this product gives a little more UV-A protection (PA++++) and has a slight lemon scent. In the end, they are both incredible products and it really just comes down to personal preference!

If you’re curious about other brands on the market, these are some of the most popular Japanese sunscreens that are available outside of the country. Our favorites are at the top:

Japanese Sunscreen ProductUV-AUV-B
Nivea Sun Protect Super Water GelPA+++SPF50+
Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery EssencePA++++SPF50+
Shiseido Senka Aging Care UV SunscreenPA++++SPF50+
Rohto Skin Aqua Super Moisture GelPA++++SPF50+
Kanebo Allie Extra UV Gel SunscreenPA++++SPF50+
Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Mild MilkPA++++SPF50+
SK II Atmosphere CC CreamPA++++SPF50
Fancl Sunguard Sunscreen UV LotionPA+++SPF50
Skin Aqua Tone Up UV EssencePA++++SPF50+
Kose Suncut Sunscreen GelPA++++SPF50+

    1. Hi Rash, thanks for asking! As far as I know, The Nivea Super Water Gel is fragrance free, but does contain ethanol. And the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence contains both fragrance and alcohol. Alcohol is listed early in the ingredients lists for both products. Hope this helps!

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