LOVE THIS STUFF.
I have oily, sensitive skin, and this has been my favorite sunscreen so far. The finish is perfect - not too matte and not too shiny/sticky. No white cast. No breakouts. I can leave the house just like that, or I can wait a couple of minutes and apply makeup right over it with no problems. I tend to sweat more than the average person... and found that the sun protection was long-lasting and not even affected by that.
Only downside is the size of the bottle! I wish it came in the bigger size (like Shiseido's blue bottle sunscreen). I've gone through several bottles now, and will keep using it as long as they make it!
Price-wise, I wish it was priced the same as their other sunscreen... I think it was $30 for a 1oz bottle. Kind of pricey. But for what it does, I'll gladly pay the $30. The bottle lasts a surprisingly long time, considering the size. You can't really see through the bottle though, so I always make sure to have a backup on hand in case I run out.
I have very sensitive skin that would break out with everything ESP on my t zone. I went to sephore on a search of an oil free ss and the lady that works there told me to use this. I've used shiseido ss, the one in the blue bottle (forgot the name) and it broke me out so I was a bit hesitant. I asked for a sample but they didn't have any. Funny thing is that when I got it, this product just came out so she brought out a sample size they use for display (lol). Anywho I gave it a shot and bought the bottle. I wished it wasn't so expensive. $30+ for only 1oz. But I am very satisfied with this product. It doesnt irritate my skin like the other ss I've tried before and it doesn't leave me with a white cast. The product is thin, easy to blend, and absorb quickly. Main thing is that it doesn't break me out. I use this ss daily and works fine under my makeup. I def will repurchase.
This is a great product. It has a high SPF, and it wears well on its own or under makeup. This isn't my everyday sunscreen--unless it's really hot out or I'm going to be exercising, it's not moisturizing enough for me to just put it on over serum and be good to go, and i prefer not having to layer 3 products every day (serum+moisturizer+sunscreen starts to feel like a lot). But that's not the product's fault (it's designed for oilier skin, after all) and it's ideal if it is hot out or if I'm going to be being active outdoors (hiking, skiing, running, etc.). Plus I really appreciate any facial sunscreen with an SPF over 30, especially if I'm going to be spending a big chunk of time outside rather than just getting incidental sun exposure.
*The new version is broad spectrum. I find both the new and old versions to be quite similar.
I don't find that this works for my oily skin. It has a runny consistency that is easy to blend into your skin and this does leave a nice, soft-matte finish. There is a bit of a white cast but if I let the sunscreen sink in well, I don't really see one. The main reason this won't work for me is because it does nothing for oil control. I don't think it made me oilier, but it did mess with the lasting-power of my make-up and didn't help with the oilies.
Something very similar but with better oil-control is Clarin's UV Plus.
Update: Another thing to consider is the high alcohol content, which can also make this sunscreen a bit drying. These days, I cannot use this sunscreen because it is too drying for my dehydrated oily skin.
For more info on my experiences with Shisiedo sunscreens:
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 tried a sample of this I received from the counter over holiday. I usually use the other SS [in the blue bottle] but thought it'd be good to try out. The texture is a bit thick and not as easily spreadable as the other SS but feels okay on the skin. It can be quite heavy feeling. But I did not receive any breakouts. It went well underneath my makeup. I do think I have to spend extra time to remove it as I still feel the SS when I wash [I double cleanse anyway but just a heads up].
I might buy this during the Sephora F&F because it's quite pricey.
For a long time this was my favorite product for sun protection. A combination of sunscreen -and- moisturizer that left only a white cast but felt absolutely weightless on my skin. It doesn't feel heavy or greasy or irritate in any way. Shiseido reformulated this and it's just not HG worthy for me anymore especially since I really hate the price of this... $30 for 1 ounce? Outrageous.
When I needed a new facial sunscreen with moisturizer, I went to my local Sephora hoping to check out DDF's Weightless Defense UV Moisturizer SPF 45. Of course, my Sephora store didn't carry it so I wandered around the store for about an hour testing out every single oil-free facial sunscreen. I went back and forth between this one, one from Algenist (which had a strong alcohol smell), and one from Peter Thomas Roth (which was too thick and sticky for summer). So I bought this one because I liked the texture the best, and I was out of options. I am in love with this product! It is weightless on my oily, breakout-prone skin, and keeps the shine away, I don't have to use primer anymore to keep my skin matte (and I thought that would never be possible). It absorbs instantly, isn't greasy, leaves my skin amazingly soft, smooth, and matte, and doesn't upset my skin in any way. I put this one my skin after letting my serum sink in for three-ish minutes. I've layered it over a rich (non-oil-free) moisturizer once, and I did have oil slicks midday, but I blame the rich moisturizer and never did that combo again. I don't know if this will be enough to keep my skin moist and soft in winter, but without a doubt, I will be buying this again for summer.
I liked the idea behind this product but it broke me out about two hours after wearing it. Alchohol is high on the list of ingredients so this may have been why my skin threw a hissy.
Finally I have found a SS that doesn't break my skin out! My skin is very sensitive to every product I put on my face so I have to be careful. This is very light and the consistency is thin and milky so it doesn't leave a white filmy look on your face which is great because I don't wear a lot of foundation. This has definitely kept my face clear and hasn't irritated it one bit. I do smell the fragrance in it but it isn't strong in my opinion. I can stand it. The only problem I have and it clearly states this on the bottle is to avoid applying near your eyes! The first time I tried this it got into my eyes and burned like crazy so I'm going to have to find a non irritating SS for near my eye area. I wish this wasn't so expensive due to the bottle is so SMALL. The first time I bought this I went into Macy's and asked the sa if she had this. She Handed me the bottle and I literally looked at her saying, "that's it?" however this won't stop me from repurchasing since it has not broken me out and is an over all good SS.
Original review: This is exactly like the Shiseido Japanese sunscreen that you have to get exclusively from Japan. It feels just like the Shiseido Hada Senka "Mineral Water UV Protector" without the irritation that one caused me. It's very light, no white cast, not greasy at all, not moisturizing, leaves a shine that looks like it's due to alcohol (not a greasy shine). It's come in a tiny plastic bottle that has a ball in it and you have to shake well before applying. It seems to last well throughout the day, though I haven't tested the sunscreen abilities too hard yet, as summer hasn't really started yet in Seattle. It does highlight flakes a bit, and it's pricier than the Japanese ss that I order from ebay: this tiny bottle is $30 usd. It feels like it contains alcohol but when I asked Sephora for the full ingredients, they said they didn't have them so now I'm e-mailing Shiseido directly for them. The active ingredients listed on the back of the bottle are Octinoxate 7.4%, Octocrylene 3.0%, Zinc Oxide 8.6%. It has a strong floral fragrance. So far, it hasn't given me any breakouts or caused any rosacea flare-up. I don't find that it's particularly stubborn to remove - I just use my usual cleanser (Paula's Choice Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser) and it does the trick. So far I love it and will most likely be using it for the summer, as long as it continues to not irritate my skin and if it keeps me pale and sunspot-free.
Edit 8/10/12: After using this for a few months, here's what I have discovered. It's great for incidental exposure and I wear it almost every day for that. However, when I have worn it under strong sun I have burned after less than 30 minutes of exposure. I do apply plenty so I know it's not that. Strange because the zinc content is 8.6% which should be enough, but for some reason this just does not keep me from burning in direct, middle-of-the-day sun. I do love this, but have lowered my rating to a 4 because it's just not strong enough protection to be a 5. When I need dependable protection, I use my Vichy Capital Soleil Dry-Touch Face Emulsion spf 50 or Obagi Nu-derm spf 50.