I’ll be very honest here: I never really bothered to use sunscreen—unless I was at the beach or something—until I hit my 30s. I’m not an especially outdoorsy person, though I’m fond of long walks on not-too-hot days. I generally need to fry for a few hours under a tropical sun to burn at all, and I tan quickly. And I quite like the look of my skin when tan: I turn a burnished gold! But I never seek it out, of course.
Tanning easily and burning rarely sounds like a nice combo, doesn’t it? But in my early 30s, I started to notice that the more delicate areas of my skin—neck, chest, shoulders, backs of knees—would develop a rash within a half hour of being in even moderate sun, and even through thicker clothes! No burning and flaking, or even much redness—just an itchy, slightly bumpy reaction which lasts for a couple of days (ugh).
It appears to be a sun allergy, which can develop when you haven’t been exposed much to the sun (um, I live in Toronto, so yeah) and it can improve with more exposure (no, thanks).
This new reaction prompted me to get with the sunscreen program, which really is a good thing, since who wants sun-damaged skin and heightened risk of skin cancer, right?
Now, applying sunscreen to my body is pretty easy, but I’ve long known that sunscreen—at least the kind that’s usually added to foundations—can give me acne. Aaaargh.
I quickly discovered that La Roche-Posay made a good sunscreen that didn’t cause me too many problems, so I was loyal to it for a while. But it was a chemical sunscreen (octocrylene), and I was curious about trying a mineral sunscreen. I was concerned with some chemical sunscreens, including octocrylene, having potential hormone-disrupting behavior and also causing damage to coral reefs.
A couple years ago, I spotted a tube of Shiseido Ultra Sun Protection Cream for Face, SPF50, at Winners for CA$12.99, so it was a bit of a no-brainer for me to pick it up. It contained both physical (mineral) and chemical sunscreens, zinc oxide and octinoxate, respectively.
I waited for the summer (2016) to use it, then realized that it actually expired that summer. No matter, I used it anyway, and it seemed to work just fine.
I used both the Shiseido and the La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF30 (a more lightweight product) so I actually still have some of it left. The Shiseido is fully expired by now, but I find it still works! I wonder if it’s because the mineral component doesn’t really expire.
The Shiseido is also a “very water resistant” formula, which means it is pretty tenacious. The first few times I wore it, I found I was starting to break out with cystic acne; I don’t think I was washing it off properly. Now, whenever I use any sunscreen, I make sure to oil cleanse first, and use a second cleanser after that, which seems to do the trick.
The formula is a cream, not particularly runny, and I found it to meld into my skin quite easily. It has a light floral fragrance which I don’t really notice after the sunscreen has been applied.
Here it is rubbed gently onto the skin (alongside Innisfree Perfect UV Protection Cream Triple Care SPF50, which is a mineral sunscreen):
And rubbed a bit more:
You can see that the Shiseido is easier to blend into the skin, though I don’t think the difference isn’t enough to justify the difference in cost! Eventually, they both blend in well and leave a very slight white cast with a bit of shine.
The slight white cast from the mineral sunscreens does not really bother me, as I apply my foundation over my sunscreen, anyway. The Shiseido sunscreen actually makes a nice base for any foundation I’ve used over it! It’s obviously more of an issue if you do not use foundation on a daily basis.
I’ve seen some other reviewers mention that they found this sunscreen to be drying. I also have dry skin, but I haven’t found this product to be a problem on my skin. I do typically layer it over a serum and a moisturizer, so that is likely to help keep it from being too drying.
At this point, I’m not sure that I would repurchase this sunscreen even though it does work very well for me. For one, I’d rather go with a product that uses strictly mineral sunscreens; two, I don’t particularly need the water resistance; and three, I’d rather find a less expensive option. I’m currently trying out a Korean sunscreen by Innisfree that ticks off all three of those boxes, too.
Overall, though, I really liked this sunscreen and it worked especially well on hot, sweaty days. If I didn’t have Korean options that are easily purchased online, I’d definitely consider sticking with it. It does make me a bit keen to try other Japanese sunscreens, which are raved about!
However, once I looked up the ingredients of this sunscreen online, my bottle appears to contain an older formula (not paraben-free); I guess that’s why I found it at Winners. I wonder how the new formula compares to mine—it now contains octocrylene, which is one of the ingredients I was trying to avoid in the first place.
Old Ingredients (from my box; %w/w = percentage by weight):
Medicinal Ingredients: zinc oxide 13.9%w/w, octinoxate 7.4%w/w
Non-Medicinal Ingredients: Water, Cyclomethicone, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Dimethicone Copolyol, Polybutylene Glycol/PPG-9/1 Copolymer, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Dextrin Palmitate, Glycerin, Hydrogenated C6-14 Olefin Polymers, Xylitol, Methyl Gluceth-10, Glutathione, Sodium Glutamate, Zinc Myristate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Thiotaurine, Scutellaria Baicalensis Extract, Ononis Spinosa Root Extract, Etoin, Cyclopentasiloxane, Acrylates/dimethicone Copolymer, Isostearic Acid, Aluminum Hydroxide, Stearic Acid, Trisodium EDTA, Silica, Alcohol, BHT, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Fragrance, Titanium Dioxide
New Ingredients (via Sephora Canada):
Octinoxate, Octocrylene, Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Water, Dimethicone, SD Alcohol 40-B, Isohexadecane, Butylene Glycol, Isopropyl Myristate, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Xylitol, Glycerin, Isododecane, Polybutylene Glycol/PPG-9/1 Copolymer, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Dextrin Palmitate, PEG-32, PEG-6, Silica, Hydrogen, Dimethicone, Carboxydecyl Trisiloxane, Aluminum Hydroxide, Stearic Acid, Fragrance (Parfum), Phenoxyethanol, Trisodium EDTA, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Talc, Alcohol, PEG/PPG-14/7 Dimethyl Ether, Saxifraga Sarmentosa Extract, Butylated Hydroxytoluene, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Ectoin, Ononis Spinosa Root Extract, Syzygium Jambos Leaf Extract, Tocopherol, Sophora Angustifolia Root Extract.
Shiseido Ultra Sun Protection Cream for Face, SPF50 contains 30 mL and retails for CA$28. (I can’t find this specific product in the US or even on Shiseido’s Canadian website, though it is available at Canadian retailers like Sephora. However, Shiseido also makes a waterproof formula, WetForce, which is available in a larger 50 mL size at US$36 / CA$48.)
Shiseido was originally launched in Japan in 1872 by pharmacist Arinobu Fukuhara. It began as a pharmacy, and began to sell skincare products by the turn of the century. Today, Shiseido is the fifth largest cosmetic company worldwide, and includes in its portfolio brands like Bare Escentuals, Clé de Peau, Joico, NARS, and luxury perfumes by Dolce & Gabbana, Serge Lutens, Issey Miyake, Narciso Rodriguez, and Elie Saab.