Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sunscreen Options: Mentholatum Sunplay SPF50+, Shiseido Water in Lip SPF18, Neutrogena Sensitive Skin SPF60+

I've been very diligent in applying sunscreen this season, and as a result, I've been going through my older stash quite quickly and needed to repurchase quite a few SPF products. I realize that summer days are almost over in this hemisphere, but sun protection is very important all year round, so I thought some mini reviews would still be helpful to you, especially for the lesser known Japanese sunscreens I've been trying.
Mentholatum Sunplay Super Block SPF50+ PA++++ ($9.48 for 30g/ 27 ml), which was my choice for sunscreen for the face, came highly recommended from my blogging friend Claire and was also mentioned by Driveller Kate quite a while ago (why don't you blog anymore, Kate? *sniff sniff*). Before I pulled the trigger and ordered a bottle from Amazon, I spent a looong time perusing all the popular options from Japanese and Korean brands, and finally decided to get the Rohto Metholatum Sunplay for three main reasons: a) it's fragrance-free, which is not that easy to find, b) it's alcohol-free, again not very common, especially among Asian formulations, c) it's a combination of physical and chemical sunscreens with the highest PA rating available at this price point. The PA rating, which indicates the level of UVA protection, is especially important to me as I'm a fair-skinned person who freckles very easily, and I would like to prevent future hyperpigmentation issues as much as I can.
The first time I applied the Sunplay Superblock, I was a little terrified. It's a runny, silicony milk which comes in a dinky shaker bottle, and I dotted a generous amount all over my face, just like I would with my Paula's Choice RESIST Super-Light SPF 30. But when I started rubbing it in, it just refused to sink in, leaving me not only very shiny (and that's scary for someone with a combination skin type in the middle of a humid summer!) but also decidedly white. I tried my best not to panic, leaving it alone in hopes it would absorb a little bit (which eventually, it did... a bit), and then finally blending a mattifying foundation over the top, which also helped to take the sheen down a notch. My skin still looked quite glowy, but actually, not in a bad way - just healthy glowy, and the sunscreen felt very lightweight and comfortable on the skin, not tacky or heavy.
Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, water, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, zinc oxide, triethylhexanoin, diglycerin, titanium dioxide, methyl methacrylate crosspolymer, trimethylsiloxysilicate, diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate, sodium hyaluronate, tocopheryl acetate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, dipotassium glycyrrhizate, lauryl PEG-9 polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone, hydrate silica, hydrogen dimethicone, polyglyceryl-2 triisostearate, 1,2 hexanediol, aluminum hydroxide, panthenol, vinyl dimthicone/lauryl dimethicone crosspolymer, disodium EDTA
Throughout the day, I checked my face for oil breakthrough quite a few times, and my base still looked fresh and dewy, not greasy. My skin also felt softer and more hydrated (maybe thanks to the hyaluronic acid in the formula); my main problem with the Paula's Choice RESIST sunscreen, especially when paired with a longwearing foundation, is that it tends to look very dry and slightly cakey on my face at the end of the day, and it can be dehydrating when used daily. With the Mentholatum, my face definitely looked fresher and more natural. All in all, I give it a thumbs up for anyone from dry to normal/slightly combination fair to light skin; if you're oily, or your T-zone gets particularly shiny, I would probably skip it in favor of a lighter sunscreen milk, maybe with some alcohol in the formula to help speed up the absorption. On medium and dark skintones, I think it would look too ashy - on my fair self, it tends to lighten my base by about half a shade, which in most cases, is not a bad thing :)
I also took Claire's recommendation to try Shiseido's Water in Lip UV Cut SPF18 PA+ ($4.58 for 3g). Again, I did a lot of research here, and Claire was absolutely right in her Sunscreen Primer post - it's nearly impossible to find a sunscreen for lips that doesn't contain oxybenzone and/or leave a heavy white cast. Whether you want to avoid oxybenzone or not is a personal decision, but either way, the Water in Lip balm is great little find: lightweight, hydrating, not overly glossy - perfect as a base under lipstick or quick touch-ups on the go. It has just a little bit of that mentholated tingle, but it subsides within a couple minutes. I can't vouch for its efficacy as a sunscreen just yet - I guess next year, we shall see if my lip contour freckles get any deeper or, fingers crossed, manage to even fade a bit.
Lastly, I purchased a tube of good ole Neutrogena to use on my body. Instead of opting for their standard Helioplex chemical sunscreen offerings, I chose the Sensitive Skin version with Broad Spectrum SPF 60+ ($11.99 for 3 fl. oz/ 88ml in a squeezy tube with a flip top), which is mineral-based (4.9% Titanium Dioxide, 4.7 % Zinc Oxide) and fragrance-free. And while it may be fragrance-free, it's definitely not scent-free: it has a pretty awful plasticky chemical scent that makes it quite unpleasant to (re)apply. It's also not all that easy to blend into the skin without any white streaks, but compared to the Badger SPF30+ mineral sunscreen I've tried in the past, it's less greasy and dries matte on the skin. I do think it's rather effective in protecting my pasty limbs, maybe because it doesn't just vanish into thin air, I can still feel it on hours later when I need to scrub it off in the shower. I understand that what I just described may sound horrible to many of you, but when you burn as easily as I do, being able to feel a layer of protection on your exposed skin at all times is actually pretty great. I probably wouldn't repurchase, mostly due to the smell, but it's a good effective sunscreen for the time being, and could even be used on the face in a pinch - it contains some glycerin derivatives along with dipotassium glycyrrhizate and pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5), both proven anti-irritants, and it's alcohol-free.

I should also mention that if you're thinking of purchasing any of the Asian sunscreens from sellers overseas (through Amazon or eBay, for example), it's best to plan your purchase at least a month before you run out of your current products, because in general, they do take a while to arrive in the US. Now, tell me - have you discovered any interesting sunscreens lately? What are your favorite options for the face, lips and body?


  1. Ah hey! I reviewed that Mentholatum sunscreen too!! I've got some major nostalgia going on with this post as the Mentholatum was my first Japanese sunscreen. I think we have similar taste in skincare. I'm glad it worked out for you. For me, it was pretty good, definitely a revelation compared to the sunscreens I'd been used to using... coincidentally the Neutrogena featured in this post :).

  2. That Neutrogena is my favorite for all over body when I'm doing something outdoorsy. S and I have gone through 5-6 tubes in the past 1-2 years, I think - it was necessary in the desert!