Rohto Hada-Labo UV Creamy Gel SPF 50/PA ++++ Review
Have you ever pictured what a perfect something would be for you, and then you found that perfect something and it wasn’t what you’d originally imagined? It could be anything – your perfect lover, house, city, shoes, dog, bra, retirement plan, or universal remote control. Maybe you thought your ideal boyfriend needed to have exactly your taste in music, lots of money, and look like Robert Downey Jr. Then you fell in love, and you learned that all you really needed was someone who’s great in bed, laughs at your jokes, and can’t wait to rewatch all 7 seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with you on a yearly basis. That kind of just happened to me, but with sunscreen – Hada-Labo UV Creamy Gel SPF 50/PA ++++, to be specific.
I’ve spent a long time looking for my perfect sunscreen, and I felt really sure it was going to have to be alcohol-free and contain a considerable amount of mineral-type protection. I tried a lot of sunscreens over the past year – chemical ones, mineral ones, sunscreens from Japan, Korea, Europe, and the US, sunscreens with and without alcohol – you get the idea. I found some pretty good ones along the way (I’ll be reviewing many of them in the coming weeks), but only Hada-Labo UV Creamy Gel became my all-time favorite despite the fact that it isn’t alcohol-free, nor does it contain a lot of mineral ingredients. I’ll talk about what makes it so special in just a minute, but first, let’s talk about what it is.
What is it?
Hada-Labo UV Creamy Gel SPF 50/PA ++++ is a Japanese, gel-textured sunscreen that promises to effectively protect skin from UVA and UVB rays, as well as moisturize skin without causing irritation. It is hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and contains no colorants.
PA ++++ is currently the highest classification of UVA protection available. If you need more information about the PA rating system, I break it all down in my recent review for Kanebo ALLIE EX UV Protector Gel (Mineral Moist) N SPF50/PA++++.
Water, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Butylene Glycol, Isononyl Isononanoate, Alcohol, Dimethicone, PEF-12 Dimethicone, Polysilicone-15, Glycol Dimethacrylate Crosspolymer, Bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Sodium Acetate Hyaluronate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolized Hyaluronic Acid, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate, Polysilicone-13, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Polystyrene, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Triethanol Amine, Titanium Dioxide, Silica, Hydrogen Dimethicone, Aluminum Hydroxide, Methylparaben, Propylparaben
The first thing that stood out to me about this formula was how low on the list Titanium Dioxide appeared. I must admit, I was a little disappointed – when I bought this sunscreen, I was shooting for a solid combination of chemical/physical protection – chemical for its high efficacy, and physical for its longevity. The low titanium dioxide content meant that I was primarily getting chemical UV protection with this sunscreen.
However, I was happy to see the absence of fatty alcohols such as Cetyl, Stearyl, or Cetearyl Alcohol – sometimes those can trigger breakouts for me, especially when using the amount of product needed for effective sun protection. I was also very excited to see so many moisturizing ingredients in the formula, including three different forms of hyaluronic acid (Sodium Acetate Hyaluronate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolized Hyaluronic Acid).
The specific UV filters selected for this sunscreen are currently among the most effective, least irritating UVA filters available in any market. Here’s a little more information on the active ingredients in Hada-Labo UV Creamy Gel SPF 50/PA ++++:
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. Of the chemical sunscreen agents, this is one of the gentlest, but like many chemical sunscreen ingredients, it can still cause a photoallergic effects or photosensitization in some people.
This is a silicone-based UVB filter that often goes by the trade name, Parsol SLX. It’s highly effective, very safe, and approved for use in Japan, Southeast Asia, China, Australia, and all of Europe. A study published in 2010 by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (a scientific European Committee that reviews cosmetic safety) showed this ingredient does not pose any phototoxicity, photoallergenic, photomutagenicity, or photoclastogenicity risks.
Bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine
Better known by its trade name, Tinosorb S, Bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine is a highly effective UVA and UVB filter. It’s extremely photo-stable, and works spectacularly with other UV filters, both organic and inorganic. It carries a much lower risk for skin irritation or allergic reactions than other chemical UV filters. It’s approved for use in Asia, Europe, and Australia.
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.
This is physical UV blocker with a high refractive index, and is capable of protecting against both UVA and UVB rays. It’s considered to be very safe, and is often used in sunscreen formulations made for babies or people with sensitive skin.
According to CosDNA, alcohol scores a 3 out of 5 as a potential irritant. Triethanol amine scores a 3 out of 5 as a potential irritant, and 2 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger.
Hada-Labo UV Creamy Gel SPF 50/PA ++++ comes packaged in blue, plastic, 50g tube. It’s fairly minimalist as far as cosmetics packaging goes, but it does the job. The dispenser is a typical tube opening.
The product itself is a creamy gel that is a nearly opaque white..
Hada-Labo UV Creamy Gel SPF 50/PA ++++ smells faintly of silicone. The smell is undetectable once applied.
I normally advocate applying chemical sunscreen first, before applying any other skincare products. There is some evidence that chemical sunscreens perform better when applied directly to the skin, as explained in this article by Dr. Neal Schultz, M.D., a dermatologist who feels passionately about the theory. However, I prefer to apply Hada-Labo UV Creamy Gel after all of my skincare products, and the reason is that Hada-Labo UV Creamy Gel has the unexpected benefit of making an absolutely amazing makeup primer. More on that in a minute.
As with all sunscreens, you need about a ¼ teaspoon to get the full SPF protection listed on the front of the bottle. To make this process easier, I’ve been doing a double 1/8 teaspoon application instead of attempting the whole ¼ teaspoon at once. Once applied, I let it absorb for about 5-10 minutes. It has no white cast, and it absorbs much more quickly and easily than the Kanebo ALLIE EX Protector Gel and most of the alcohol-free and cream-based sunscreen formulas I tried. It does not absorb as quickly as Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence, which I think might actually be the fastest absorbing sunscreen ever made by humans.
Once dry, Hada-Labo UV Creamy Gel has a really interesting finish – it’s not heavy or greasy at all, but it is somewhat shiny. It leaves the skin feeling slightly moist. Not in a gross, sticky way though – it just feels like my skin is really well hydrated. I’ve tried other sunscreens that never completely dried, and they always felt greasy. I suppose some would call that feeling “moist,” but the finish of the Hada-Labo UV Creamy Gel isn’t like that at all. It’s far more pleasant. It’s not tacky, suffocating, or dirty feeling. It’s not unlike the feeling my skin has after applying a hyaluronic acid cream (I find hyaluronic acid serums to be more sticky than creams). For someone with dry skin, this is a dream come true.
In the past, I’ve often reached for Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence because it feels light, and absorbs incredibly quickly. The drawback is that for someone with dry skin like mine, the Watery Essence is usually drying, and frequently causes my makeup to flake within an hour of application. The Hada-Labo UV Creamy Gel is the best of both worlds – it absorbs very quickly and is easy to apply, but it doesn’t dry my skin out at all. Additionally, Hada-Labo UV Creamy Gel does not feel greasy or heavy. I think someone with normal skin could probably skip moisturizer altogether when using this sunscreen.
I’ve used Hada-Labo UV Creamy Gel for a total of around 8 weeks, in 4 weeks spurts over the past few months. I have never experienced any irritation or acne as a result of using this sunscreen. I’ve also never experienced any flaking, dryness, greasiness, or interference with my makeup. In fact, Hada-Labo UV Creamy Gel actually extends the wear of my makeup by a few hours when I use it, giving it the unadvertised benefit of acting as a makeup primer. Also like a makeup primer, it seems to smooth over any small imperfections in skin texture or pore size, so the finish of my makeup when I use this sunscreen appears flawless.
There was a time when I was sure my perfect sunscreen had to be an alcohol-free, combination chemical/physical formula. I was wrong. What I really needed was a sunscreen that didn’t feel gross, didn’t dry me out, effectively protected me from UVA and UVB rays, and made my makeup look amazing. Hada-Labo UV Creamy Gel SPF 50/PA ++++ does all of that, and that’s what makes it my Holy Grail sunscreen.
Pros & Cons
Skin & Tonics Rating
|A||20/20 Efficacy||14/20 Ingredients||20/20 Application||20/20 Wear||20/20 Packaging|
|Total: 94||Rating system details »|
Where to Buy
|Jaipfe (eBay seller) Ships free from Japan||$13||buy|
|Fujisan_JP (eBay seller) Ships free from Japan||$16||buy|
|Japan Stream (Amazon seller) Ships free from Japan||$15||buy|
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