Sunscreens are one of Japan’s most popular beauty items. According to reports, the suncare market in Japan generated over USD0.47B in revenue in 2024 alone, signalling a huge demand for sunscreens. But what sets Japanese sunscreen apart from the rest? Let’s find out.

What makes Japanese sunscreens different?

Japanese sunscreens are made differently.

Japan as a country takes its suncare seriously. You’d rarely see someone from Japan going outside on a hot and sunny day without sun visors, umbrellas, and clothes that keep their skin well protected. 

Sunscreens in Japan are considered cosmetic products compared to American sunscreens, which are considered medication and regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. This means Japanese beauty companies producing sunscreen products have more leeway in terms of innovating formulations. This allows them to come out with various textural consistencies, added skincare benefits, and even makeup priming that may make sunscreen more compelling to consumers.

This variety allows versatility in options, especially concerning skin type. For example, glowy-finish sunscreens may not be very appealing to folks with oily skin, while those with dry skin may want a product that doesn’t cling to drier areas on their face. Someone with sensitive skin may look for formulas that won’t irritate their skin without compromising on sun protection.

Now that you know why Japanese sunscreens stand out from the suncare crowd, check out some recommendations to try based on your skin type.

Sunscreen for oily skin

1. ALLIE Chrono Beauty Facial Gel UV EX SPF50+ PA++++ 

If you wear makeup and hate the pilling and greasy effect that some sunscreens have on your skin type, this Japanese sunscreen may be for you. It’s a primer and sunscreen in one that prevents a dreaded oily shine which can wear down your foundation. It is also resistant to sweat, sebum, and friction, and since it doubles up as a primer, it’ll help your base makeup products last longer.

The ALLIE Chrono Beauty Facial Gel UV EX SPF50+ PA++++ retails for SGD30.50 per 60G at Watsons.

2. Shiseido Urban Environment Triple Beauty Suncare Emulsion SPF50+ PA+++

This sunscreen is ideal for those with oily skin — if you’re looking for moisture without the added shine. It’s oil-free, which means that it has a lower chance of clogging pores or causing acne. Described as the first of its kind to protect the skin by converting a portion of UV rays into “Beauty Beams”, it works by enhancing the appearance of the skin for a gorgeous glow. It also has an anti-sebum effect which promises to fight skin damage caused by UV, excess sebum and pollution. 

The Shiseido Urban Environment Triple Beauty Suncare Emulsion SPF50+ PA+++ retails for SGD68 per 30ML on the brand’s website.

Sunscreen for dry skin

3. Biore UV Aqua Rich Aqua Protect Mist SPF50 PA++++ Sunscreen

If you have dry skin, you may be looking for a sunscreen with moisturising ingredients. This one from Biore is formulated with squalene that works to retain glow and moisture without being sticky. Plus, it offers convenience with its mist format, dispersing an ultra-fine mist to form a thin, even protective layer against UV rays. Use it on top of makeup as well as on your body and hair.

The Biore UV Aqua Rich Aqua Protect Mist SPF50 PA++++ Sunscreen is priced at SGD22.30 per 60ML at Watsons.

4. SEKKISEI Skincare UV Defense Essence Milk

This sunscreen is formulated with three types of Job’s tears, also known as coix seed, adlay or adlay millet, an ingredient that is known for its deeply nourishing and antioxidant skincare benefits. If you live an active lifestyle, you will appreciate the Stretch Veil technology that prevents it from smudging during sports and any other lively activities. It’s also environmentally friendly because it uses SEKKISEI’s original coral-friendly formula to protect marine environments.

The SEKKISEI Skincare UV Defense Essence Milk is priced at SGD37 per 60G on Metro.

Sunscreen for sensitive skin

5. Sunplay Skin Aqua Super Moisture UV Gel

If you have sensitive skin, look for sunscreens that do not have added fragrance, colour, or mineral oils that may further irritate your skin. This Sunplay sunscreen does not contain any of those ingredients. Not only does it protect your skin from UV rays, but it also blocks out harmful pollutants with its Allergen Defense Technology.

The Sunplay Skin Aqua Super Moisture UV Gel is priced at SGD21.05 per 80G at Watsons.

6. Anessa Moisture UV Sunscreen Mild Milk SPF50+ PA++++

This “mild” version of Anessa’s popular sunscreen range is also an ideal match for those with sensitive skin because it’s packed with skincare ingredients such as peony root extract, Super Hyaluronic Acid, and glycerin that keep your skin moisturised and soothed. Plus, it claims to provide light, non-irritating UV protection and won’t leave a white cast! 

The Anessa Moisture UV Sunscreen Mild Milk SPF50+ PA++++ is priced at SGD47 per 60ML at Watsons.

Which of these Japanese sunscreens are you adding to your skincare routine?

Don’t forget to double cleanse with these Japanese facial cleansers to remove your sunscreen!