Emulsions

The most common sunscreen formulation is the two-layer, water-in-oil emulsion. Depending on the product, it may also be described as a “lotion.” This is the most popular format for sunscreen since it goes on smoothly, does not feel sticky, and is resistant to water.

Since the oil and water are separated into two layers in the container, it is important to shake the container thoroughly before use to agitate the product inside.

In the past, people have complained of sensations of tackiness and greasiness when applying two-layer water-in-oil type sunscreens, but nowadays all the Japanese manufacturers are focusing on improving the feel of the product. Today’s Japanese sunscreen emulsions offer much better usability than past formulations.

There are considerable differences in characteristics from one product to the next. This means that you shouldn’t give up on two-layer water-in-oil type sunscreens after one bad experience, since the next one you try may be perfect for you.

ANESSA Perfect UV Skincare Milk

ANESSA Perfect UV Skincare Milk

Since its launch in 1992, ANESSA Perfect UV Skincare Milk has established itself as a sunscreen for maximum sunburn protection. The reformulated version released in February 2018 features Aqua Booster EX technology that reinforces the UV blocking film against sweat and water. This makes it a good choice for water sports and the beach. The product is a white and silky smooth emulsion type sunscreen.

ANESSA Perfect UV Skincare Milk in the hand

ANESSA continues to be a consistent top performer in the sunscreen market. Early versions of the product would leave your skin tinted white, but since it was reformulated in 2018 the usability performance is much improved. It even works as a cosmetic base and won’t cause makeup to break down. Immediately after application, the oil makes a thin film on the skin that feels a little bit sticky, but the sensation quickly dissipates.

ManufacturerShiseido
SPF valueSPF 50+
PA valuePA++++
FormulationEmulsion
WaterproofYes
Apply toFace, body
Contents60 ml
How to removeSoap
ANESSA Perfect UV Skincare Milk

In the past, ANESSA sunscreen could make your skin feel dry and cracked shortly after application, but today’s reformulated Perfect UV Skincare Milk seems to have improved its moisturizing ability. The product does have a bit of a “sunscreen smell.” If this bothers you, you may prefer the Kosé Sekkisei (below).

Kosé Sekkisei White UV Milk

Kosé Sekkisei White UV Milk

Another classic Japanese emulsion-type sunscreen is Kosé Sekkisei White UV Milk, which can be purchased at drug stores and convenience stores across Japan. This is another long-selling product that was relaunched in February 2018. The sunscreen formulation includes soothing and aromatic Japanese and Chinese botanicals, which the Sekkisei brand is famous for.

Kosé Sekkisei White UV Milk in the hand

As you can see from the photo, the emulsion is white, smooth, and watery to the touch. It blends smoothly into the skin, but the coverage is not great. A large amount may be needed to cover large areas such as your legs and back. Immediately after application, it feels a little bit sticky, but over time, the stickiness disappears and your skin feels moisturized. It has a lightweight feel and won’t tint your skin white.

ManufacturerKosé
SPF valueSPF 50+
PA valuePA++++
FormulationEmulsion
WaterproofYes
Apply toFace, body
Contents60 g
How to removeFacial cleanser, body cleanser, cleansing agent
Kosé Sekkisei White UV Milk

The scent is a little stronger than other products because of the modern floral fragrances that are typical of Sekkisei sunscreens. This is a great choice if you don’t like the “sunscreen smell” but don’t mind a floral fragrance.

Cosme Decorté Sun Shelter Multi Protection

Cosme Decorté Sun Shelter Multi Protection

Cosme Decorté’s “Sun Shelter Multi Protection” is a luxury emulsion sunscreen that not only blocks UV rays, but also fine (PM2.5) air pollutants (hence the “multi protection.”) Even when you are indoors, this product heals and moisturizes skin that has been dried out by air conditioning.

You can see the luxurious texture of the Cosme Decorté in the photo below. The slightly yellowish, hard emulsion spreads very well even in small amounts. A little goes a long way!

Cosme Decorté Sun Shelter Multi Protection in the hand

The Cosme Decorté feels very comfortable and smooth going on the skin and keeps your skin is well moisturized and supple to the touch. It’s not sticky and doesn’t turn your skin white. Even when used as a cosmetic base, it won’t dry out your skin or crack your makeup.

ManufacturerCosme Decorté (Kose)
SPF valueSPF 50+
PA valuePA++++
FormulationEmulsion
WaterproofNo
Apply toFace, body
Contents60 ml
How to removeFacial cleanser, body cleanser
Cosme Decorté Sun Shelter Multi Protection

The Cosme Decorté features an elegant floral scent and luscious texture that makes it feel more like applying a body cream than a sunscreen. Expensive but worth it!

DHC Suncut Q10EX Milk

DHC Suncut Q10EX Milk

Next is the Suncut Q10EX Milk from DHC, who is known for their cleansing oil. In Japan, this sunscreen is sold mainly by mail order. It is very difficult to find outside of Japan. According to the DHC website, the product has been proven to retain its UV protection power even after getting wet. This makes it a good choice for use at the pool or the beach or before heavy exercise in the sun.

DHC Suncut Q10EX Milk in the hand

As you can see in the photo, it has a white, smooth, watery texture, which helps it spread evenly on the skin across a wide area.

ManufacturerDHC
SPF valueSPF 50+
PA valuePA++++
FormulationEmulsion
WaterproofYes
Apply toFace, body
Contents50 ml
How to removeCleanser, body wash
DHC Suncut Q10EX Milk

Over the years, several “milky” emulsion-type sunscreens have been introduced in Japan. Some people are not fans of this format because the light emulsions tend to feel sticky for a while after being applied. However, the Suncut Q10EX Milk blends well into the skin immediately after application, with less stickiness than other emulsions. It feels good on the skin and doesn’t leave the skin white. It has a slight milky scent, but not objectionable at all. It has excellent moisturizing power and can be used as a makeup base without any problems.

This is a great product but is hard to find even inside Japan and virtually impossible to find outside of Japan.

NOV UV Milk EX

NOV UV Milk EX

NOV UV Milk EX is a skin-friendly sunscreen that does not contain any UV absorbers. The best feature of this hypoallergenic sunscreen for people with sensitive skin is that it can be removed with just warm water. While the formulation is less stressful on the skin, it’s also likely to come off with sweat. That makes this is a sunscreen for everyday use rather than outdoor sports or the beach. Thanks to its hypoallergenic formulation, it is safe to use even on babies.

NOV UV Milk EX in the hand

A light, comfortable emulsion that blends well on the skin. It feels very lightweight and has no scent at all. Although it is gentle on the skin, it does not have much moisturizing power. It’s a good sunscreen to use when you won’t break a sweat, for example at home or when the sun isn’t that strong, such as in early spring or autumn.

ManufacturerNOV (Noevir)
SPF valueSPF 32
PA valuePA+++
FormulationEmulsion
WaterproofNo
Apply toFace, body
Contents35 g
How to removeWarm water
NOV UV Milk EX

The NOV UV Milk EX also fragrance-free, so it’s a safe choice for those who are sensitive or allergic.

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