I have been furiously working my way through all the sunscreens I have to cut down on my stash, so get ready for an onslaught of sunscreen reviews. Today’s sunscreen is the very popular, mostly well regarded Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream made for the US market. Does it live up to the hype? Perhaps, but only if you’re super pale.
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Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ Wetforce For Face
An innovative protective sunscreen for the face that becomes more effective when it comes into contact with water, delivering the best coverage under the sun for healthy-looking, beautiful skin.
Country of Origin
Where does it fit in your routine?
Apply after all skincare and before makeup.
Size and Price
Mine is a 15ml deluxe sample that was included as part of Sephora’s 2017 Favorites Sun Safety Kit. The for-purchase options retail for $22 for 1.2oz/34g or $36 for 2oz/60g on Sephora or slightly less on Amazon.
Blue squeeze tube. Product comes out easily.
Has an alcoholic and powdery smell.
Color and texture
This is a white cream sunscreen but has much better spreadability than most Western white-cream sunscreens. My guess is this is why this sunscreen is so popular. It’s easy to apply a little or a lot. It doesn’t clump or drag on my skin. On the skin, it feels powdery and semi-mattifying. Texturally, I imagine this probably works well under makeup.
Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 7.4%, Octocrylene 3.0%, Titanium Dioxide 1.4%, Zinc Oxide 16.4%;
Inactive Ingredients: Water, Dimethicone, Sd Alcohol 40-B, Isohexadecane, Butylene Glycol, Isopropyl Myristate, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Lauryl Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Xylitol, Glycerin, Polybutylene Glycol/Ppg-9/1 Copolymer, Isododecane, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Peg-6, Dextrin Palmitate, Peg-32, Peg/Ppg-14/7 Dimethyl Ether, Saxifraga Sarmentosa Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Ononis Spinosa Root Extract, Ectoin, Sophora Angustifolia Root Extract, Silica, Hydrogen Dimethicone, Carboxydecyl Trisiloxane, Aluminum Hydroxide, Stearic Acid, Trisodium Edta, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Talc, Alcohol, Bht, Syzygium Jambos Leaf Extract, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance
- 7.4% Octinoxate (INCI: Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate)
- 3% Octocrylene
- Titanium Dioxide 1.4%
- Zinc Oxide 16.4%
No, which is particularly concerning because this sunscreen not only seems to be a popular choice amongst beach goers but is also actively marketed for water usage (WetForce technology).
When tested on Acropora (one of the most common hard-coral genus), Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate) was found to cause complete bleaching even at low concentrations. This sunscreen contains 7.4% Octinoxate.
Shiseido does not specify whether the titanium dioxide or zinc oxide they use are nano-sized, but my guess is they are. Although not as insidious, TiO2 and ZnO nanoparticles are also problematic. They produce significant amounts of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), a strong oxidizing agent that generates high levels of stress on marine phytoplankton. Nano titanium dioxide in coral reef ecosystems also induce stress and possibly contribute to an overall decrease in coral populations.
Blocks UVB (280nm-320nm) Rays?
Yes. All 4 filters provide coverage from UV rays with this range of wavelength. For reference, Octinoxate = EHMC, Octocrylene = OCR, Titanium Dioxide = TiO2, Zinc Oxide = ZnO in the charts below. Octinoxate (EHMC) is a particularly good filters up to the 340 nm mark.
Blocks UVA1 (340nm-400nm) and UVA2 (320nm-340nm)?
Yes, but not ideal. Zinc Oxide (ZnO) has good breadth of coverage and will provide protection all the way up to 400 nm. If you look at the two graphs to the right, you can see that relative to some other filters, ZnO does not have the best depth of coverage. In general for UVA protection, the filters I like to see included in sunscreens are Avobenzone (BMDBM), Uvinul A Plus (DHHB), and/or Tinosorb M (MBBT).
If you’re used to using Japanese/Korean/other Asian sunscreens, the texture of this sunscreen won’t impress but compared to the average Western sunscreen, this sunscreen applies like a dream. It spreads onto the skin easily and smoothly, without clumping or tugging on skin. Honestly, I think this is why this sunscreen is so popular. I’ve been using a lot of Western (mostly French and American) sunscreens recently, and they will clump and streak, finding every way to dry down unevenly. Not so with this sunscreen! I’m pleased to see that even though this is a US product made for the US market, Shiseido has mostly upheld the cosmetic elegance that is characteristic of sunscreens in their home market.
In addition, this sunscreen seems to have good water resistance. I don’t really buy into the whole Wet Force thing (because the information on their website would suggest the unspecified/unpublished/not public in vivo study they reference has a n=1, which is not statistically ok), but I can attest to the fact the white cast from this sunscreen persists through light swimming and poolside activities, which makes me think it’s staying on. Also, this sunscreen does seem to be effective in protecting my skin from burning. I don’t have a skin type that burns easily though, so YMMV.
The things I dislike about this sunscreen are:
- The absence of stronger UVA filters
- The inclusion of octinoxate, a reef-bleaching ingredient, in a sunscreen so clearly marketed towards water (and thus ocean) usage. Seriously Shiseido, this is just irresponsible.
- White cast, which is INTENSE. The sunscreen makes my skin two shades lighter and a few tones pinker. On my hands (above), the effect is somewhat amusing but on my face, this sunscreen makes me look ghastly. Because it completely changes my skin-tone, I can’t even cover up the white cast with makeup, which means I cannot feasibly use this as an everyday use sunscreen.
Overall rating: 2.9/5