As the oil-free version of this sunscreen (weird because they are both oil-free) was too drying/harsh for my dehydrated oily skin, I looked to this one. But if you're oily, I don't think this will be a good match for you because it is too rich, even if it is mattifying in the beginning. Like all the Shiseido sunscreens, this sinks in easily and leaves a nice semi-matte finish.
For dehydrated oily skin, I would recommend the extra smooth lotion because it is light enough for oilier skin types, but not drying like the oil-free urban enviro version.
Oil-free? Yes. White cast? Yes. Flash photography? Not with this on. Removal? Use an oil.
For more info on Shiseido ss in general:
As of now, 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 (PA+++/PA++)
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)
I have tried all of these except the new ultimate formulas, but I will do an update if/when I sample them.
Although only the last product 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).
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 oil-free version is targeted for oilier skin types).
All formulas sink into the skin very well and leave a semi-matte finish. The blue formulas can feel a little greasy initially, but this feeling goes away very quickly. Although all of the sunscreens have some form of alcohol, I don't think they would be considered drying for most. That is, except the urban enviro oil-free lotion, which my dehydrated oily skin cannot handle due to the high alcohol-content, which I find drying. (Interestingly, even when I was very oily, I could not use this lotion, but for a different reason: no oil-control. So I find it too drying initially, or not mattifying enough later.)
Many people like the cream versions because they are rather good as mattifying primers. However, they can also be a little heavy, depending on the formula. I found both the extra smooth and urban enviro creams to be a bit much for my oily skin. That is, they were mattifying in the beginning, but I did see oil later. The old formula for the ultimate sunscreen was very popular as a mattifying primer for the oily, but I've heard that the new formula is not as good.
As for a white cast, I see one with every sunscreen, though it's less evident if you let it sink in for a few minutes. But in terms of photos, there is a definite 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 $15 and liked the combination of ingredients. When I tested it on the back of my hand it blended in quickly and left a satin almost matte finish similar to the Extra Smooth maybe a bit more matte. When I got it home and did a full face application it went on really white. Not wanting to give up on it I added some Dr Hauschka's Bronzing lotion and problem solved. Once I rubbed this in well and it absorbed this left a fairly matte finish with no white residue, no greasiness or breakouts and makeup goes over it beautifully. If I want to skip the make up I can add a little extra bronzing lotion and some powder and go. I'll probably reserve this for the days that I'm outside in the sun and use Elta for day to day use. Glad I found it cheap but I won't hesitate to pay full price when it's gone. Even my kids prefer this sunscreen when playing ball because it lasts all day through profuse sweating and doesn't cause breakouts or eye irritation.
Pretty package, I like the white tube thingy.
It goes on nicely, has a very silky feel. But you only get 1.7 oz for 30$ . That's very pricey to use the recommended 1/4 tsp face and neck each day
Replenix sunscreen spray is 12% zinc more aox and 38$ for 4oz
That makes this a why bother? Type of product. It's not worth the money
3/17/13 Update: Really loving this! I use a couple drops of Trilogy's Rosehip Oil pressed into my skin before applying this and experience no dryness whatsoever. I have noticed it does leave a slight white cast on my, fair olive-toned skin--around NC 15-20, which is bummer but not a deal breaker. I wish it came in a bigger bottle for the price, but as someone who has very reactive skin that doesn't like most sunscreens, I'll repurchase regardless of price. ----- Original review: I've been using this for a few weeks, and it is the best sunscreen I've tried in a while. Most sunscreens I've tried clog my pores/cause breakouts or are too irritating. I have very sensitive (reactive), clog-prone skin that is oily but dehydrated (lacking water). This hasn't caused any breakouts. Texture-wise, it's on the thicker side, but it blends/smooths beautifully and dries down to a velvety matte finish. The matte finish may be a bit much for dry skin types, but it works well for my oily skin. I like that it easily removes with a daily cleanser (my skin doesn't tolerate oils/oil cleansers). The alcohol, zinc, and/or something else can be a bit dehydrating for my skin type (loses water easily), so I have to use a hydrating serum first to help prevent dehydration and flakes. It does have the usual Shieseido sunscreen scent, which may be bothersome to those who are sensitive to fragrance. It's 1.9 oz. and lasts me about a month and a half when using the recommended 1/4 tsp daily on my face. INGREDIENTS- Actives: OCTINOXATE 2.9%, OCTOCRYLENE 3%, ZINC OXIDE 10.6%; Inactives: water, isododecane, cyclomethicone, dimethicone, butylene glycol, sd alcohol 40-B, polymethyl methacrylate, laurel peg-9 polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone, glycerin, disteardimonium hectorite, xylitol, methyl gluceth-10, peg/ppg-14/7 dimethyl ether, thiotaurine, scutellaria baicalensis root extract, arginine hci, onions spinosa root extract, ectoin, sodium pca, hydrogenated polydecene, hydrogen dimethicone, isostearic acid, benzophenone-3, trisodium edta, silica, polybutylene glycol/ppg-9/1 copolymer, alumina, triethoxycaprylylsilane, bht, syzygium jambos leaf extract, tocopherol, phenoxyethanol, fragrance, titanium dioxide