Broad spectrum, SPF 50+ coverage
Lightweight, non-greasy formula
Water-resistant for 80 minutes
Has technology to make it work better in heat or water
Doesn't leave a white cast
Not ideal for those who are sensitive to chemical sunscreen
Not Byrdie Clean
Fairly high price point for SPF
Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion
We put the Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.
I don't believe in “one size fits all” in the context of skincare, unless we're discussing sunscreen. It's the single beauty product that's absolutely necessary for everyone, despite skin tone, type or individual concerns.
The fact I'm a beauty writer that lives in Australia only makes me more dedicated to daily SPF. We've got some of the highest incidences of melanoma in the world, so you better believe I'm going to slap on my sunscreen every single day. That, and I’d rather keep my face as cherub-like as possible for as long as possible (sun damage is also the leading cause of skin aging).
With all that being said, I also get the gripe so many have with certain SPF products. No one wants sticky, goopy creams on their face that leave them looking like a ghost, which makes it all the more important to do your research and find a sunscreen you really love. That way, wearing it is delightful (as opposed to a chore).
Funnily enough, I had never tried Shiseido sunscreens until this review. I’d heard great things about the Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion, but not even upwards of 2000 Sephora reviews could have prepared me for how excellent this product is. So in the spirit of sun safety, I’ve laid out all the Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ details right here. Keep reading for my full review.
Best for: The Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion is especially useful for normal to oily skin, on hot, humid days, and for darker skin tones thanks to its transparent gel texture (read: no white cast).
Uses: As a daily SPF for face and body.
Byrdie Clean? No; includes PEGs, BHT, and parabens.
About the brand: Shiseido first opened as a Western-style pharmacy in 1872 in Ginza, Tokyo. Now, it is one of the world’s biggest beauty conglomerates (Shiseido also functions as a parent company and owns stakes in brands including Nars, Clé de Peau Beauté, bareMinerals, and Drunk Elephant). Shiseido the brand is now known and loved for its innovative and luxurious approach to skin and makeup; they pride themselves on newness, using the latest technology and intelligent formulations.
About My Skin: Textbook combination
The skin on my face is textbook combination. My cheeks are often tight, but my nose, chin, and forehead are prone to shine and congestion. When it comes to face sunscreen, I look for a texture that’s luminous but light. The brief is essentially glowy, but not greasy.
As for body sunscreen, anything goes! I’m not fussy—it just has to be broad spectrum and quickly absorbed. Bonus points if it holds up well in Aussie humidity.
The Ingredients: Chemical filters and cutting-edge technology
Shiseido's Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion is a chemical sunscreen, or more accurately an “organic” sunscreen. In this case, the filters used are avobenzone 2.3%, homosalate 10.0%, octisalate 5.0%, and octocrylene 5.0%. When it comes to the old “physical versus chemical” debate, my stance is to each their own. There’s no overall winner—the most important thing is to find one that works with your complexion.
Personally, I find chemical SPF more cosmetically elegant (lighter, thinner, more skincare-like), but call on physical zinc-based options more regularly because I find it helps keep my pigmentation at bay. But overall, I swing both ways—my only rule is that it’s got to be high-coverage and broad spectrum.
The Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion also has a feature Shiseido calls WetForce and HeatForce Technology. The idea is that the product creates a bit of a shield on the skin that is strengthened when it comes into contact with heat and water. I wouldn’t let this discourage me from reapplication, but it’s certainly a nice touch.
How to Apply: Liberally
The rule with SPF is one teaspoon per limb. This amount is also enough to properly cover the face, neck, chest and ears. Sunscreen should also be the last part of your skincare routine, after all creams and serums but before makeup if you’re using it.
This product in particular is so light that application is a breeze. There’s no rubbing or waiting around. It spreads like butter and dries down quickly, leaving the skin fresh, soft and semi-matte (a natural velvet finish is what I'd call it).
The Results: Fresh hydration
For the purpose of this review, I’m going to talk about using this product on my face, and it’s so good I could cry. From the texture (a lightweight gel-cream) to the finish (luminous but not shiny), Shiseido's Sun Protector Lotion is pretty close to perfect. It’s a delight under makeup, doesn’t have a strong smell, and in my case, didn’t sting around the eyes. While I can only speak to my skin tone (medium olive), there seems to be a consensus online that there’s zero white cast involved. Personally, I had no ghostly finish at all.
Because of the lightweight finish, I think it’s excellent for warm, humid days or for outdoor exercise. The only thing I’ll say is that because it’s chemical and contains fragrance, it could be irritating for sensitive or breakout-prone complexions. I’d do a patch test first.
The Value: Reasonable
$49 for 5 oz. of this product is, in my opinion, pretty reasonable when we’re talking about the face. For all over my body, I’d go for something cheaper, but you do you.
Similar Products: You've got options
Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 35: In regards to texture, this is probably one of the closest products on the market. Glossier’s SPF ($25) is light and fresh, and designed to work on all skin tones. I guess the only schtick is that the sun protection factor isn’t as high.
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40: SPF 40 again isn’t quite as much protection as Shiseido's 50+, but the texture of this Supergoop! sunscreen ($34) is unmatched. It’s almost completely transparent, and glides over the skin like angel tears before drying down to a soft, natural finish.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion SPF 50: If you’re chasing a cheap and cheerful dupe, this Neutrogena SPF ($9) is it. Broad spectrum, high protection and lightweight, it’s a fantastic option for the price point.
For someone who tries a lot of products, it takes a lot to really blow my socks off, but the Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion has done just that. The texture is incredible, the protection is stellar, and the price is doable for the versatility and amount. 10/10 would repurchase.
- Product Name Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion
- Product Brand Shiseido
- Price $49
- Weight 5 oz.
- Full Ingredient List Water, Diisopropyl Sebacate, Talc, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Peg/Ppg-9/2 Dimethyl Ether, Sd Alcohol 40-B, Lauryl Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Triethylhexanoin, Glycerin, Dextrin Palmitate, Sucrose Tetrastearate Triacetate, Isododecane, Ppg-3 Dipivalate, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Silica, Sodium Chloride, Peg/Ppg-14/7 Dimethyl Ether, Saxifraga Sarmentosa Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Sophora Angustifolia Root Extract, Ppg-17, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Calcium Stearate, Isostearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Trisodium Edta, Alcohol, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Vinyl Dimethicone/Methicone Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, Peg-6, Bht, Tocopherol, Butylene Glycol, Stearic Acid, Sodium Metabisulfite, Syzygium Jambos Leaf Extract, Polysilicone-2, Methylparaben, Fragrance, Iron Oxides.