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Sun Protection Products for Asian Skin

Updated on December 3, 2012

When it comes to choosing sun screen products, not all are created equal. Just like how every person's skin type differs, Asian skin is also different structurally and physiologically.

While most Asian skin do not burn easily in the sun, it is still prone to sun damage, premature wrinkles, and skin cancer. Asian skin is more sensitive, gets oily more easily, and may have issues with hyper-pigmentation. Therefore when choosing sunscreen products, it is recommended that you choose products that are formulated specifically for Asian skin.

Quick Facts about Asian Skin

  • More prone to sensitivity
  • Scars more easily
  • Gets oily more easily
  • Prone to hyperpigmentation
  • More resistant to aging
  • Loses moisture more easily

Asian skin has more melanin and can vary in color, from beige to darker olive. While this extra layer of built in SPF can protect from sunburns, it is still prone to discoloration, or dark spots.
Asian skin has more melanin and can vary in color, from beige to darker olive. While this extra layer of built in SPF can protect from sunburns, it is still prone to discoloration, or dark spots. | Source

How is Asian skin different?

  • Asian skin will produce more melanin when exposed the sun's UV rays. This means that it acts as a built-in layer of SPF, which can HELP prevent sun burns. However, it's not completely protected from skin cancer, skin discoloration, and age spots.
  • Asian skin is usually slightly yellow in color due to the presence of extra melanin, but the tone can vary from light beige to very fair.
  • Asian skin is more prone to hyperpigmentation, where dark spots and discoloration may be more visible. If your skin gets damaged by the sun, it will be more visible! This condition is also called "liver spots." In order to protect your skin from looking uneven in color, it is important to consistently use sunscreen. Using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 will help prevent new dark patches from forming.
  • Asian skin tends to be slightly oilier than other types of skin due to more sebaceous glands. Some Japanese companies produce sunscreen by keeping in mind the need for light texture and control oil production.
  • Asian skin can be very smooth in appearance because the pores tend to be very small with fewer hair follicles.
  • Asian skin has a thicker dermis than Caucasian skin, and contains more collagen. It is more resistant to aging due to more firmness over the general bone structure and has greater elasticity. This is why Asian women tend to look a lot younger than their real age!
  • Asian skin is one of the most sensitive types of skin. It is very sensitive to chemicals and fragrance.

Recommended sunscreen with antioxidants and SPF 30

Now that we've uncovered the difference between Asian skin and other types of skin, let's discuss the ideal sunscreen products.

When using sunscreen, don't use the same sunscreen for both face and body. The skin on your face is different in texture from the skin on your arms and legs. An "all-purpose" sunscreen may irritate the skin on your face.

In addition, you don't have to buy a sunscreen that is manufactured by an Asian company to reap the same benefits. While some of us may prefer the those types of products, such as the ones made from Japan, there are many products that are made in other countries.

For the face, it is ideal to use a moisturizer with a built-in sunscreen. You should use richer, deeper penetrating creams. The ideal moisturizer for Asian skin should contain a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 to prevent further darkening of skin color, and antioxidants for protection against harmful free radicals and pollution.

Brands like Essutais are expensive, but they act as a 3 functions in a bottle and they work really well. For example, Essutais is a sunscreen, primer, and moisturizer all in one bottle.

If you plan on spending more time in the sun, you can even use a mist spray sunscreen on top of the moisturizer. For a more affordable oil-free sunscreen, Neutrogena has a line that works well for those that need extra coverage.

Sun damage not only makes Asian skin darker, but can also cause blemishes and scarring.

There are sunscreens that are designed to prevent or repair sun damage by using vitamins A and E with antioxidants. This combination will help to boost the skin’s immune system and can reduce the appearance of existing blemishes.

Liposomes are another important ingredient, as they help fade brown spots by changing the rate of skin cell clustering, and leave the skin looking younger and clearer.

Asian specific sun screen

There are several manufacturers from Japan and Korea that produces excellent, high quality sunscreen for Asian skin. Most of them are zinc based, so the consistency is a bit thicker.

Hara is a great sun screen for the body that only contains natural ingredients, with olive oil and jojoba oil as being the base. Zinc oxide provides protection against UV rays, while beeswax creates a water-resistant layer.

Asian sun screen also contains silicone, since the weather in Asia is more humid. Unfortunately it can clog your pores. So make sure you have a beauty regimen that includes weekly exfoliation.

A few things to note when using Japanese sunscreens:

  • Due to the zinc content in these sunscreens, they can be tricky to wash off. I usually use a cleansing oil to wash it off.
  • If you have darker colored skin, these sunscreens may look a little white on you when you first apply it on the face. Don't worry, as the whiteness will go away after the cream absorbs in your skin after about half an hour. A trick that I use is to mix in a small drop of liquid bronze.
  • Some of them may alcohol, so avoid them if you’re sensitive to alcoho


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    • Guckenberger profile image

      Alexander James Guckenberger 

      2 years ago from Maryland, United States of America

      The thing about melanin and UV rays; is that why my girlfriend and my ex-girlfriend (Filipinas) get super dark after they've spent more time in the Sun? O.O

    • liesl5858 profile image

      Linda Bryen 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Very useful hub, voted up and thank you.

    • CrisSp profile image


      7 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Very useful, great advice. I'm a sun worshiper all my life and never have used any sunscreen until I started having flaws and dark spots on my face. Then, I learned my lesson. My work involves a lot of face-to-face interactions and I'd confess, it negatively affected me. Thankfully, they now have disappeared but it has affected my self-esteem then.

      Since then, I never leave the house without sunscreen on my face even during wintertime and I do tell everyone about it too. Not exaggerating the fact but it could be traumatizing. :(

      Thank you for sharing this information with us. We thought we knew, but nah!

      Voted up and useful and sharing.


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