Just discovered that my original review is gone. This excellent spf has become HG since June 2013. It's everything one expects from a good Japanese sunscreen......protects, mattifies and primes all at once. My skin is very reactive and SD-prone and I have NO issues with this unlike many other sunscreens. I never would have thought that a "cream" spf would work for my skintype. Thumbs up!!! As stated in other reviews, you do need an oil-based pre-cleanser to properly remove this since it's so water/sweat resistant (one of its best qualities).
Thank goodness I tried out a sample before I decided to purchase this! It lacks the stickiness that I hate so much from sunblocks and it has a nice scent that masks that typical odor of sunscreen, without be overpowering. However it made my oily skin feel DRY and at the end of the day I found new zits that weren't there before. Thinking that it was previously clogged pores that were pushing out pimples, I continued to use the samples. My acne has multiplied exponentially and is now all over my face. Definitely will not be purchasing. My search for sunscreen that doesn't break me out continues...
-smells great without being overpowering
-drying even for oily skin
-new acne breakouts all over the face
-fragrance=irritating for the skin
-has a lot of alcohol (although not as much as the tinted face version of this product)
Shi offers 2 Urban Environment sunscreens -- this one for Face/Body and the Oil-Free UV Protector for Face SPF 42. I have combo-oily, acne-prone, sensitive skin and I would normally choose the Face/Lotion version, but I noticed it contains a potentially acne-causing ingredient, which I try and stay away from (Ethylhexyl Palmitate). In addition, it has a good amount of alcohol which I sometimes find harsh/drying. This cream does not contain this ingredient, plus it has less alcohol.
Even though this is a cream formulation, I find it surprisingly light and non-greasy. Now I will say that I do not use the recommended 1/4 tsp. With facial sunscreens, I apply as much as my skin can comfortably handle to avoid having a mid-day makeup meltdown, which defeats the purpose of protecting my skin in the first place. The Shi goes on smoothly, but does take a bit of effort to blend in. I find there is an initial whitecast, but it disappears after I let it sink in for a few minutes before applying my foundation (EL Invisible Fluid). It makes a fantastic, *slightly* moisturizing and oil-absorbing makeup base, allowing me to skip my application of gel moisturizer. My skin has a soft matte finish which becomes more semi-matte/natural as the day progresses.
This is has a tenacious, water-resistant formula, so I remove it thoroughly with my FANCL Mild Cleansing Oil. My skin is acne/PD-prone and I've had no issues with this sunscreen, which is a major feat! If you're familiar with the fragrance of other Shi sunscreens, this has the same light scent. It does disappear quickly and I have no sensitivity/irritation issues with it.
I have this sunscreen and the other Urban Environment (for face with SPF 42. It comes in a white bottle with a cap on the top). The difference between these two products is huge, despite having such similar names and appearances. This is a heavy cream which leaves a noticable white cast on my face. I am finishing up my bottle now and I just applied this about 30 minutes ago. I rubbed it for a few minutes and yet it WILL. NOT. ABSORB. I look like a clown. I could not go outside like this. On days where I could get it to absorb, it still left a white cast and a greasy sheen on my face. I recommend trying the Urban Environment sunscreen for face because it absorbs quickly without much white cast, although it does contain a lot of alcohol.
I have extremely oily skin and this sunscreen exacerbated that unfortunately. After applying it, it left a greasy feeling on my skin and after a few hours of wearing it, my face was a shiny oil slick. I am using the Shiseido sunscreen for babies (in blue bottle) and the formula is much more agreeable with my oily skin.
After finishing a bottle of sticky Yes to Cucumbers sunscreen this felt like the most luxurious thing to apply to my skin. It's moisturizing, sinks in quickly, and doesn't smell offensive. Since I finished this bottle I've tried Shiseido's 50+ SPF Ultimate Protection Cream (blue tube). That was a bit too much, smelled strongly of glue, paled my face, and eventually confirmed my appreciation for the Urban Environment formula. However, I don't think it is appropriate for dry skin because it seems to highlight flakiness. Also, it is rather expensive for a mere 2 oz. The bottle only last me two months with daily use. Regardless, I like this sunscreen a lot and will be repurchasing.
This is a nice sunscreen with a reasonable price, it feels comfortable to wear (doesn't drying my skin out and doesn't clog my pores) and gives enough protection in an urban environment (as its name suggests). What else can you expect from a sunscreen?
This is an excellent sunscreen, one of the best out there - IMO its the second best right behind La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen (#1 in my book). Since La Roche Posay is not readily available (I have to order it online as opposed to running to the mall), I often opt for Shiseido instead and do not notice much of a difference between the two (Shiseido is a little thicker with slightly more noticeable fragrance whilst LRP cost a couple bucks more as well).
Shiseido Urban Environment UV Protection Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 40 for Face/Body is a pretty comprehensive sunscreen; lots of UA & UV protection, extremely moisturizing, and anti-aging all in one. Its thick enough to lock moisture in and block out those damaging rays and pollutants, yet not so thick it ends up a sticky mess like drugstore brands often do. Supposedly its got lots of antioxidants and such but I kinda roll my eyes at any beneficial claims where that's concerned considering those ingredients are too low on the ingredient list to really make any difference. Even so, its moisturizing, kicking much ass in the UA/UV protection department, and has the skin cancer Foundation seal of recommendation so I cannot ask for much more.
The only issues I have are A) price for amount and B) that I wish it were scent free. Still, the scent is not overpowering at all so that is not too much of a biggie, certainly not enough to be a deterrent. But $30 for less than 2 oz?!? That's just cray-cray nutty pants to me. I mean, let's think about this: If a brand was made of the exact same ingredients and claims yet targeted to men, it would be half the price I am sure. Be that as it may, it is what it is: most similar non drugstore sunscreens us ladies purchase are all the same size and price range as Shiseido is so given that, out of all of those this is still by far one of the best to purchase. Considering Shiseido does work hard at proving their usage of cutting edge anti-aging technology and the like, again this one tops the list. Some reviewers have complained about a white cast BUT this is always going to be somewhat/sorta an issue where zinc oxide is concerned. However, I have never noticed this BUT to be fair, I only use this on my neck, decollate, and hands when wearing foundation bc my foundation has SPF- I do use this on my face when running errands and such sans foundation (using powder though) and I still/even then never noticed any washed out effects. All that said, I highly recommend this product.
As the lotion version of this sunscreen was too drying/harsh for my dehydrated oily skin, I looked to this one. But if you're oily, this isn't the best match because it might be a bit too rich, even if it is mattifying in the beginning. It does, however, sink in easily and leave a nice semi-matte finish.
ETA: One issue I forgot to add is that this seems to emphasize or bring about flakiness I never even knew I had! I have no idea why but it does this every time without fail on skin that would otherwise stay smooth with other products =/
ETA2: New formula gives me major, literal white cast :(
Oil-free? Yes. White cast? Yes, though it can be less noticeable if you let the sunscreen sink in. Flash photography? Not with this on. Removal? Use an oil.
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.
My medication causes itchy red patches on my face if I'm exposed to the sun too long so sun block with some physical ingredients is imperative and I need one that does the job without irritating my skin, breaking me out or looking greasy. Although I really like the Elta MD sunscreen I currently have it doesn't protect as long as Sheseido's old Extra Smooth Sun Protection Cream (now discontinued) which was my HG sunscreen. I've yet to try the reformulated version but I've heard that they reduced the amount of physical sunscreen and that doesn't thrill me. Chemical sunscreen is more likely to irritate my face. I could put the old stuff on in the morning and go to one of my kids softball tournaments and not worry about reapplying all day. This past weekend I forgot to reapply my Elta and while I didn't burn I did break out in a rash on my chin where I tend to get oily and the Elta wore off quicker. If you've ever had this type of rash I can tell you it sucks. It itches and takes days to go away. I spotted a bottle of the Urban Environment at TJ Maxx for under $15 and liked the combination of ingredients. When I tested it on the back of my hand it blended in quickly and left a satin almost matte finish similar to the Extra Smooth maybe a bit more matte. When I got it home and did a full face application it went on really white. Not wanting to give up on it I added some Dr Hauschka's Bronzing lotion and problem solved. Once I rubbed this in well and it absorbed this left a fairly matte finish with no white residue, no greasiness or breakouts and makeup goes over it beautifully. If I want to skip the make up I can add a little extra bronzing lotion and some powder and go. I'll probably reserve this for the days that I'm outside in the sun and use Elta for day to day use. Glad I found it cheap but I won't hesitate to pay full price when it's gone. Even my kids prefer this sunscreen when playing ball because it lasts all day through profuse sweating and doesn't cause breakouts or eye irritation.