Review: Sofina Beauté UV Cut Emulsion NS SPF50 PA++++ (Fresh)
It’s not a secret that I enjoy splurging on pricy skincare products – luxury skincare is one of my absolute favorite ways to treat myself. But sunscreen, which is the product I consider to be the most important product in my daytime skincare routine, is one product I actually don’t splurge on. To a non-regular-sunscreen-wearer, this might seem baffling, but my fellow UV protected brethren and sistren probably understand why this makes perfect sense. Here’s the thing: because of the amount of sunscreen required to get the actual UV protection indicated on the front of the bottle (~ 1/4 teaspoon), I go through more sunscreen in a month than any other product I use on my face, except for possibly water. I generally use around 80-100 mL of sunscreen over a 30 day period, which, in Chanel sunscreen dollars for example, would set me back about $165 USD (for 3 x 30 mL bottles) a month. That’s a lot of money to spend on sunscreen; especially when there are so many great formulas to choose from at exponentially lower price points (I spend $32 USD a month on 2 x 50mL bottles of my favorite Hada Labo sunscreen). Every once in a while though, my curiosity gets the best of me, and I’ll pick up an expensive sunscreen just to see what I’m missing, which is how I ended up with the sunscreen I’ll be reviewing today: Sofina Beaute UV Cut Emulsion NS SPF50 PA++++ (Fresh) ($40, or $120 a month for 3 x 32 mL bottles).
What is it?
Sofina Beauté UV Cut Emulsion NS SPF50 PA++++ is a sunscreen and moisturizing product made by Japanese skincare brand Sofina Beauté, and is sold in Japan and a handful of other Asian markets. It promises to provide UVB and UVA protection, moisturize skin, provide firming and anti-aging benefits, and act as a makeup base, all without stickiness or a white cast. It comes in two varieties, Fresh (for oily skin) and Moist (for dry skin). Today I’ll be looking at the “Fresh” variety.
Just in case you’re new to the world of Japanese sunscreens and are wondering what the heck a PA++++ is, here’s a quick summary:
The PA rating is based on the widely used PPD (persistent pigment darkening) method, a system of measuring UVA protection. The PA system ranges from PA+ to PA++++, and each level corresponds with a range of PPD measurements. Here’s how the PA system works:
PA+ = 2-3 PPD
PA++ = 4-7 PPD
PA+++= 8-15 PPD
PA++++= 16+ PPD
For more information about UVA assessment in sunscreen, this is an excellent article published by BASF in September 2013:
The Evolution of UVA Protection.
One of the reasons I tend to reach for Japanese sunscreens more often than others is because they are among the best (along with European sunscreens) when it comes to UVA protection.
Zinc Oxide 13%, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate 4%, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate 0.5%
Water (Aqua), Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Alcohol, Talc, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Cetyl-PG Hydroxyethyl Palmitamide, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Methicone, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Polysilicone-9, Bis-Methoxypropylamido Isodocosane, Fragrance (Parfum), Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, BHT, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Extract, Tocopherol
Before I get into my breakdown of the UV protection agents in this formula, I’d like to touch a little bit on the inactive ingredients. All the marketing copy I could find for the Sofina Beauté UV Cut Emulsion boats Ceramides as a beneficial ingredient, yet there are no actual Ceramide ingredients included in the ingredient translation I have for this product. This sunscreen was reformulated earlier this year in order to give it the PA ++++ UVA protection capabilities it now possesses, and the old formulation did include Ceramide 2 as an ingredient. I’m sad to see it go – I’m a sucker for Ceramides. Part of me hopes that the ingredient was omitted from the translation by accident. If any of you are up for checking the Japanese version of this ingredient list and can tell me whether or not Ceramide 2 is still a part of this new formula, I’d love your input.
Lack of Ceramides aside, this formula is similar to some of the other alcohol-based Japanese sunscreens I enjoy. It also contains a handful of plant extracts, which possess benefits including anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and antioxidant properties.
As for the UVA/UVB agents, this formula has a solid mix of physical and chemical sunscreen ingredients. Here’s a breakdown:
Zinc oxide is a mineral that provides physical protection against both UVB and UVA rays. Additionally, zinc is often used as an acne treatment due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects, as well as its ability to control sebum.
The clinical effects of zinc as a topical or oral agent on the clinical response and pathophysiologic mechanisms of acne: a systematic review of the literature
Journal of Drugs & Dermatology, May 2013
This is a chemical UV protector that is often listed in products as Octinoxate. In addition to protecting against UV rays, it also helps stabilize light sensitive product formulations, so it’s sometimes seen in non-sunscreen skincare products (Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair is one example). Of the chemical sunscreen agents, this is one of the gentlest, but like most chemical sunscreen ingredients, it can still cause a photoallergic effects or photosensitization in some people.
Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate
This is a chemical sunscreen agent that effectively absorbs and breaks down UVA. It’s often referred to by its trade name, Uvinul A Plus, and is one of the safest chemical sunscreen agents available – a study published in 2008 by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products showed this ingredient not to pose any phototoxicity, photoallergenic, photomutagenicity, or photoclastogenicity risks. It’s a very effective UVA absorber, and works well with other sunscreen agents. It does not protect against UVB, but pairs well with those that do. It’s approved for use in sunscreens in all of Europe, as well as Japan, Taiwan, Mexico, and South America.
There are no major red flags (major being a 3 or higher out of 5) in terms of potential acne triggers or irritants, according to CosDNA.
Sofina Beauté UV Cut Emulsion NS SPF50 PA++++ (Fresh) comes packed in a small, plastic, light blue bottle adorned with a daisy on the front. It has a plastic cap that reminds me a bit of the type of glassware everyone’s grandmother liked to keep in curio cabinets in the 70s and 80s.
The product itself is a bright, opaque white, and is a bit thicker than water, but not much.
Sofina Beauté UV Cut Emulsion NS SPF50 PA++++ (Fresh) smells faintly of flowers, citrus, and SD alcohol. It’s not overpowering, and the fragrance disappears within a minute or so after application.
I apply ¼ teaspoon of Sofina Beauté UV Cut Emulsion NS SPF50 PA++++ (Fresh) in the morning as the last step in my skincare routine. The product description on various retail sites indicate that no moisturizer is needed with this sunscreen. However, this sunscreen isn’t even close to be moisturizing enough on its own for my dry skin type. I really should have purchased the Moist variety of the Sofina Beauté UV Cut Emulsion, but at the time I purchased this one, I didn’t realize there were two varieties.
Sofina Beauté UV Cut Emulsion absorbs satisfyingly fast – faster than Hada Labo UV Creamy Gel, but not quite as quickly as Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence. Although it dries quickly, I let it sit for around 10 minutes before applying any makeup. Once Sofina Beauté UV Cut Emulsion has been absorbed, it is completely matte and non-sticky. There is no visible white cast, which I found delightful – but surprising given the zinc oxide content in this formula.
I’ve used this sunscreen sporadically over the course of about 4 weeks. Because of the price, I’ve opted not use it daily, instead only using it on particularly humid days when I’m also wearing a lot of makeup. The matte finish has its own appeal. If I had an oilier skin type, I imagine I would appreciate this formula a lot more. Alas, I found it slightly drying for my skin type. I did not experience any breakouts or irritation as a result of using this sunscreen.
It provided plenty of protection for me, if my skin color is anything to go by – I’ve still managed not to tan in the summer sun of North Carolina. I also admittedly don’t spend a lot of time outdoors, especially in the summer – I usually only experience direct sunlight in my commute to and from work, and to and from lunch.
I probably wouldn’t purchase the “Fresh” variety of Sofina Beauté UV Cut Emulsion again, but only because it was designed for a different skin type than my own. I did enjoy this sunscreen enough that I am excited to try out its “Moist” counterpart, which is made for dry skin like mine. The Moist variety is reportedly more moisturizing, but still maintains the matte finish. If your skin leans oily, and you are someone who enjoys the matte finish of Biore UV Perfect Face Milk SPF 50 PA++++ (review forthcoming), but finds it too drying for your skin, Sofina Beauté UV Cut Emulsion would be a great (though far more expensive) alternative for you.
Pros & Cons
Skin & Tonics Rating
|A-||17/20 Efficacy||15/20 Ingredients||20/20 Application||20/20 Wear||20/20 Packaging|
|Total: 92||Rating system details »|
Where to Buy
|BeautyKat eBay seller||$40||Ships from US.||buy|
|WhiteCat3845724 eBay seller||$46.75||Ships from Taiwan.||buy|
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