ETA- I am upgrading this to my HG. I ran out a month ago and was cringing at the idea of being hooked on such an expensive sunscreen. So I tried really hard to find something else that worked as well. I bought cheaper sunscreen, I shopped my stash, I even tried another Shiseido SS because it was on sale. In that time, my skin and I have gone from having a low key love/hate relationship to a relationship that can be best described as tantrum-throwing toddler (my skin) /exhausted mom trying in vain to placate it (me.) My skin just hates EVERYTHING right now. I have tried and discarded a good 5 or so facial sunscreens just in the past month. So I finally caved and hit Sephora to pick up another tube of the Shiseido. While the price still annoys me, my overwhelming feeling is relief: that my sunscreen is taken care of, it will just work and I'm not wasting the money on a yet another product that I won't be able to use. ORIGINAL REVIEW-Effective sun protection that does not break me out or cause my sensitive skin to react. I have not had a sunburn since using this. Whereas before I could get one in 15 minutes or less once my sunscreen wore off. The price is steep, but you need so little, the tube has lasted me all summer. Would definitely repurchase.
I used the previous formula for several years and I loved it. This new formula is awful. I have combo skin and I'm very fair. This leaves my face white and takes awhile to soak in. The old formula was superior. I wish they would bring it back. I'm using MyChelle spf28 for now.
Active ingredients: octinoxate 7.4%, octocrylene 3.0%, titanium dioxide 1.7%, zinc oxide 19.3%
Rating: PA+++; PPD ~9.8
Consistency: thickish lotion
Fragrance: smells like all Shiseido sunscreens - it's so familiar to me that I can't even describe it! Maybe a light, slightly sweetened sunscreen smell?
Finish: Took extra time to really rub it in all the way. Otherwise, it would've left a white cast even on my pale skin and would've looked greasy rather than glowy.
Wear: After 9 hours, skin had a bit of shine, but not too bad.
Gym: Did not sting eyes
This formulation replaced the old SPF 55, which was well-liked by those with oily skin because of its wonderful mattifying properties. Unfortunately, this new formula is nothing like the last. It is slightly greasy at first and then leaves my face a bit shiny, instead of absorbing quickly and leaving a semi-matte finish (which is what I'm used to). I find that the new ultimate lotion has the same problem, and both are not good for oily skin.
Others have commented on how white this sunscreen makes them look. I know what they mean, but if I let it sink into my skin for several minutes, I find that it helps. Flash photography, however, is still an issue.
In short, if you're looking at the SPF 50+ cream, it is not the mattifying HG that the previous formula was. It will not help with oil control or be suitable for flash photography. Make sure to remove properly (preferably with an oil cleanser).
While I did not like this for my oily skin, those with drier skin types may enjoy it and it is still a good sunscreen with broad spectrum protection and a high SPF.
As of now (summer 2013), the following Shisiedo sunscreens are available in the US (these are the basic sunscreens, not including anything like lip protection, tinted products, etc.):
Extra Smooth Sun Protection Cream/Lotion N SPF 38 (Broad spectrum)
Ultimate Sun Protection Cream/Lotion+ SPF 50+ (Broad spectrum)
Urban Environment UV Protection Cream SPF 40 (Broad spectrum)
Urban Environment Oil-free UV Protector SPF 42 (Broad spectrum)
All of these products were recently reformulated and I have to admit I've very disappointed :( As someone with (dehydrated) oily skin, none of them work for me, including the urban enviro lotion, which is both too drying and lacking in oil control.
Although only the urban enviro lotion claims to be oil-free, from what I can tell looking at ingredient lists, none of these sunscreens contain oil. (But check anyway if that's important to you).
According to Shisiedo, extra smooth is best for drier skin types, ultimate is for activities that involve lots of sun exposure, and urban enviro is for everyday (though the lotion is targeted for oilier skin types).
The formulas are white, with the lotions on the runnier side, and the creams a little thicker. Both the extra smooth and ultimate formulas feel a bit greasy and leave my face with shine -- lotions and creams. Only the urban enviro lotion feels like nothing, though the urban enviro cream is a little mattifying in the beginning.
All of the sunscreens have some form of alcohol, but I don't think they would be considered drying for most. That is, except the urban enviro lotion, which my dehydrated oily skin cannot handle due to the high alcohol content. (Interestingly, even when I was very oily, I could not use this lotion, but for a different reason: little oil-control. So either I find it too drying initially, or not mattifying enough.)
I found the cream formulas a bit too rich for my oily skin, and none have the initial mattifying effect of their past formulations (except the urban enviro cream, but it's not that great anyway).
The ultimate cream was a favorite for the oily-skinned because of its mattifying abilities, but I can't say the same for the new formula. It leaves a shine after application (rather than a semi-matte finish) and it does not control oil.
As for a white cast, I find that I do see one with most of the formulas, particularly the ultimates. However, with the extra smooth and urban enviro formulas, I don't have a problem when I let them sink in. For the ultimates, I try to blend them in well and also give them some time to sink in.
In terms of photos, however, there is a ghostly face effect.
One thing to keep in mind with these sunscreens is that you really need to remove them properly -- preferably with an oil. They are known for their tenacity so if you experience any breakouts, consider your removal methods too.
I got this as part of the Sephora suncare sampler and I was excited to try it after hearing so many great things. The pros: it works - definitely protects my superfair skin from the sun; dries to a matte, non-greasy finish; it doesn't have fragrance. The cons: it's chalky and makes me look like a ghost, it's very dry and highlights every flake, it's hard to rub in, it makes my already-dry skin even drier, and it's hard to even read the words on the tube because of the orange type on the blue tube. Bah. Horrible.
This is a replacement for/reformulation of the beloved 55. DISCLAIMER: I never used the old ultimate sun cream so I can't compare to the old formulation.
That said, I love this spf. It's on the lower end of PA+++ which is good for a physical and fine for me since I live in the northeast.
Cosmetically, this is the best sunscreen I've ever used, chemical or physical. Chemical ss makes my skin extremely greasy which the drug store physicals I've tried are sticky and make my makeup look terrible by the end of the day. This sunscreen actually acts as a primer to make my skin less greasy and helps my makeup last. There is a bit of a white cast but it's not very noticible.
Only difficulties with this product involve the price!
I loved and used the old 60+ ultimate formula. I hate this new formulation. It turns my medium, NC 35, GGG skin a chalky bluish white. So much so that I have to wear tinted moisturizer and more bronzer to add warmth to my face. It has more zinc oxide than the old one. This is going back to Sephora TODAY. I'm sure that this new formula is in compliance with the new FDA regulations, but it's just awful on my skin.
Santa popped a bottle of this cream into my stocking this year. He was told it was the spf 55 cream, just repackage. Well, a quick check of the ingredient listing confirms it is NOT. I'm so disappointed that my HG has been discontinued. The 6th ingredient is ISOPROPYL MYRISTATE. Ingredients: Active: OCTINOXATE 7.4%
TITANIUM DIOXIDE 1.7%
ZINC OXIDE 19.3%. Inactive Ingredients: WATER, SD ALCOHOL 40-B, ISOHEXADECANE, BUTYLENE GLYCOL, DIMETHICONE, ISOPROPYL MYRISTATE, POLYMETHYL METHACRYLATE, LAURYL PEG-9 POLYDIMETHYLSILOXYETHYL DIMETHICONE, XYLITOL, GLYCERIN, DISTEARDIMONIUM HECTORITE, POLYBUTYLENE GLYCOL/PPG-9/1 COPOLYMER, ISODODECANE, TRIMETHYLSILOXYSILICATE, PEG-6, PEG-32, SAXIFRAGA SARMENTOSA EXTRACT, SCUTELLARIA BAICALENSIS ROOT EXTRACT, ONONIS SPINOSA ROOT EXTRACT, ECTOIN, SOPHORA ANGUSTIFOLIA ROOT EXTRACT, HYDROGEN DIMETHICONE, SILICA, CARBOXYDECYL TRISILOXANE, TRISODIUM EDTA, SODIUM ACRYLOYLDIMETHYLTAURATE/METHACRYLAMIDOLAURIC ACID COPOLYMER, ALUMINA, POLYMETHYLSILSESQUIOXANE, TALC, ALCOHOL, TRIETHOXYCAPRYLYLSILANE, BHT, SYZYGIUM JAMBOS LEAF EXTRACT, TOCOPHEROL, PHENOXYETHANOL, FRAGRANCE