Jun 29

Surviving in Japan: A Guide to Sunscreen in Japan

Posted by Ashley Thompson (Shizuoka-ken, 2008-2010) of Surviving in Japan: without much Japanese and Lifelines columnist for The Japan Times.

Ashley Thompson

Ashley Thompson is "Surviving in Japan: without much Japanese"

Just in time for summer (despite some of the gray days during the rainy season): an overview of sunscreen (or sunblock) in Japan.

I should note that I’ve heard various complaints about sunscreen tubes and bottles being relatively small here, and in many cases, this tends to be true. In my experience, women here often seem to prefer covering up their skin with clothing, hats, scarves, etc., carrying around an umbrella, and/or just avoiding being outside during the peak times of day. It’s not uncommon when stopped at an intersection to see pedestrians waiting under store eaves in the shade until the light turns green (though this is also just to get out of the heat). So I think one possible reason the quantities may be smaller is simply because they are primarily used on the face, neck, hands, and/or arms. Their small size also makes them easier to carry around.

As for men in Japan, it doesn’t seem that protecting their skin from the sun is as popular as it is with women. I’m sure some do, but women seem to be more concerned about this (in general, of course does not apply to everyone) and in general, sunscreen in Japan seems to be marketed more towards women.

First of all, sunscreen or sunblock in Japanese is: 日焼け止め (ひやけどめ, hiyakedome)

Other words to know:

紫外線  しがいせん  ultraviolet rays
耐水性   たいすいせい  water resistant
ウォータープルーフ        waterproof
無香料     むこうりょう  unscented
無着色      むちゃくしょく  no coloring

Understanding UVA/UVB protection

Every country has its own form of indicating a sunscreen’s effectiveness against UVA and UVB rays, though the use of “SPF” is fairly standard.

Japan uses SPF to measure protection against UVB rays. You’ll see standard numbers such as 15, 30, 50, etc.

Protection against UVA rays is indicated in Japan as “PA” with a plus sign (+). There are no numbered measurements for this; more pluses equals more protection. You’ll find 3 versions: — CLICK HERE to read the rest of the post.

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