Skin & Tonics : Skincare Guides & Product Reviews

Skincare guides & product reviews for hydration lovers & the moisture barrier obsessed

Kanebo ALLIE EX UV Protector Gel (Mineral Moist) N SPF 50/PA++++ Review

I’ve got great news for everyone who’s asked for more sunscreen reviews – I’m ready to start banging out posts for all the sunscreens I’ve been using over the past several months! I’ll be posting them in smaller bursts because if I don’t, this site will almost certainly turn into a sunscreen blog, and I’ll have to change the name to “Skin & Various UV Protectors,” which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue the way “Skin & Tonics” does. I’m kicking off my sunscreen review series with a look at Kanebo ALLIE EX UV Protector Gel (Mineral Moist) N SPF50/PA++++, which I picked up because it’s one of the very few I could find with a PA++++ rating that didn’t seem like it would dry out my already dry skin.

Kanebo Allie EX UV Protector Gel (Mineral Moist) N SPF50/PA++++

For those wondering what the heck a PA is, here’s a little summary: The PA rating is a Japanese measurement for UVA protection used for any sunscreen sold in Japan, and is often used for other Asian brands as well. Until very recently, PA+++ was the highest UVA protection attainable . The PA++++ criterion was introduced at the end of 2012. We typically only see SPF ratings on American sunscreens, which only measures the UVB protection offered. The words “broad spectrum” are used on American sunscreens that also offer UVA protection. The issue with this is that although technically, a sunscreen claiming broad spectrum protection is supposed to offer UVA defense equivalent to the UVB protection stated, this is frequently not the case. It’s very difficult to assess exactly how much UVA assurance a standard American sunscreen offers, and because UVA rays are responsible for premature aging and skin cancer, I find this to be a huge deficiency in our labeling system.

The PA rating is based on the widely used PPD (persistent pigment darkening) method, a system of measuring UVA protection, which, interestingly, also originated in Japan. 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.

For anyone confused by the difference between UVB and UVA rays, the primary distinction is that UVB rays are responsible for sunburn, while UVA rays are responsible for cancer and premature aging. I find it helps to think of them as UVBurn and UVAge rays (I wish I could take credit for that device, but I actually read it a long time ago and can’t remember the source).

Now back to our regularly scheduled sunscreen review! Let’s take a look at how Kanebo ALLIE EX UV Protector Gel (Mineral Moist) N SPF50/PA++++ performed.

What is it?

Kanebo Allie EX UV Protector Gel (Mineral Moist) N SPF50/PA++++ is a combination chemical/physical, broad spectrum, sunscreen that promises waterproof sun protection with a light, non-sticky finish. It also promises to prevent dryness and is made for all skin types.

Kanebo Allie EX UV Protector Gel (Mineral Moist) N SPF50/PA++++


Active ingredients:
Zinc Oxide 9.2%, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate 7.5%, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate 2.5%, Octocrylene 0.2%

Inactive ingredients:
Water (Aqua), Alcohol, Octyldodecyl Myristate, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Glycerin, Isohexadecane, Triethoxycaprylilsilane, Methicone, Polysorbate 80, Nylon – 1 2, Xanthan Gum, Polyglyceryl-10, Diisostearate, Sorbitan Oleate, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ectoin, Algae Extract, BHT, Soluble Collagen, Averrhoa Carambola Leaf Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Royal Jelly Extract, Coix Lacryma-Jobi (Job’s Tears) Seed Extract

This formula includes multiple moisturizing ingredients in the latter half of the list, which filled me with hope for the dryness prevention claim. Those ingredients include sodium hyaluronate, soluble collagen (which is not actually anti-aging, but it is moisturizing), and royal jelly extract.

Interestingly, though the official product name is Kanebo ALLIE EX UV Protector Gel (Mineral Moist) N SPF50/PA++++, I’ve noticed this sunscreeen listed in a couple of places (including Sasa) as “Kanebo ALLIE Whitening UV Protector Gel.” I imagine this is likely an older name for the product, but the “Whitening” part of this name is misleading, as the formula contains no ingredients that actively fade dark spots or hyperpigmentation.

Here’s a breakdown of this sunscreen’s active ingredients:

Zinc Oxide

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

Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate

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 one of the safest chemical sunscreen agents available – a study published in 2008 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. 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.


Octocrylene is UVA/UVB protector. On its own, it’s not terribly effective, but it prevents the breakdown of other UV protectors, as well as boost their performance. It’s mostly safe, but has been known to cause irritation in some people, particularly those with a ketoprofen (a prescription anti-inflammatory) photoallergy. Additionally, there is some speculation that it could promote the generation of free radicals when exposed to light, but more studies are needed to assess this.

There’s a great article on The Beauty Brains exploring the concerns associated with Octocrylene.

Kanebo Allie EX UV Protector Gel (Mineral Moist) N SPF50/PA++++

According to CosDNA, alcohol scores a 3 out of 5 as a potential irritant, and sorbitan oleate gets a 3 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger.



Kanebo ALLIE EX UV Protector Gel (Mineral Moist) N comes packaged in a sleek, white, plastic tube with blue foil lettering. It’s a 90g tube, nearly twice the size of the typical 50g packaging I find with other Japanese sunscreens I’ve tried. The dispenser is a typical squeeze tube dispenser.

Kanebo Allie EX UV Protector Gel (Mineral Moist) N SPF50/PA++++

The product itself is an opaque, ivory cream.


Kanebo ALLIE EX UV Protector Gel (Mineral Moist) N smells primarily like alcohol with a hint of something vaguely plant like. The alcohol smell disappears almost immediately upon application, but the plant-like smell lingers for a few minutes application. It’s not overwhelming, but it is distinctive.


I apply Kanebo ALLIE EX UV Protector Gel (Mineral Moist) N in the morning after I’ve applied all of my skincare products, but before I apply any sort of primer, BB cream, or foundation. 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 20 minutes (though it does dry at around the 10 minute mark) before applying any makeup.

Kanebo Allie EX UV Protector Gel (Mineral Moist) N SPF50/PA++++

This sunscreen dries to a non-sticky but slightly shiny finish. There is a very, very faint (it’s almost not even there) white cast, which is not at all visible under makeup, including makeup with a sheer finish.

Kanebo Allie EX UV Protector Gel (Mineral Moist) N SPF50/PA++++


When I bought Kanebo ALLIE EX UV Protector Gel (Mineral Moist) N, I used it daily for just under 4 weeks. I did not experience any irritation or breakouts as a result of using it. As promised, it was not sticky once it dried, which happened fairly quickly, but it wasn’t as moisturizing as I’d hoped. I found that the top layers of my skin dried out about an hour after application. The dryness was very superficial, and not at all severe, but it did affect the texture of my makeup, especially on my nose. It wasn’t horrendous – I don’t believe it was visible at a normal talking distance from my face, but I knew it was there.

I was really hoping Kanebo ALLIE EX UV Protector Gel (Mineral Moist) N would be my new HG sunscreen. It did provide great protection, and I liked the non-sticky finish, but the dryness and makeup texture interference were big turnoffs for me. I do think this might perform better on oilier skin types, and possibly any other skin type that isn’t characterized as dry. My search for the perfect PA++++ sunscreen continued after my trial run with Kanebo ALLIE EX UV Protector Gel. I did find one eventually, and I promise to tell you all about it, but that’s a story for next time!


Pros & Cons

Pros Cons
  • Great UVB & PA++++ UVA protection
    No obvious white cast
    Absorbs relatively quickly
  • Superficially drying for dry skin types
    Negatively affects makeup texture

Skin & Tonics Rating

B+ 17/20 Efficacy 16/20 Ingredients 17/20 Application 17/20 Wear 20/20 Packaging
Total: 87 Rating system details »

Where to Buy

Store Price Offers
Jaipfe (eBay seller) $33 buy
CiaoTaurus (eBay seller) $37 buy
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28 comments onKanebo ALLIE EX UV Protector Gel (Mineral Moist) N SPF 50/PA++++ Review

  1. I definitely agree with you that this sunscreen is slightly sticky and shiny without being moisturizing, which rather defeated the entire purpose. I’ve found that I like Kanebo ALLIE Extra UV Protector (which has the typical milky texture many Japanese sunscreens have) better because it isn’t as sticky and dries down to a much nicer finish.

    May I ask where you find the sunscreen ingredient percentages for this sunscreen? I’ve been trying to find that info for a while, but couldn’t find it anywhere: The bottle itself doesn’t have the % listed. I have to say I’m rather disappointed by low Zinc Oxide percentage (<10%). I had hoped there would be more, considering it's PA++++. I suspect the Extra UV Protector one I'm using has roughly the same %. Since that's the case, I might only use up the current bottles (all 3 of them — I'm such a hoarder) but not repurchase in the future.

    I'm looking forward to your other sunscreen reviews!

    • Kerry

      Hi Emy! The one I got had an extra sticker on the outer packaging that listed the ingredients in English as well as the ingredient percentages. I bought mine from eBay seller CiaoTaurus.

      I’m okay with the low zinc % myself, primarily because I think the Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate and the EthylHexyl Methoxycinnamate are such great performers. I’m intrigued by the Kanebo Allie you mentioned – I may try that one next! I’d love to try an Allie that doesn’t interfere with my makeup because the 90g size is really convenient for me. I go through sunscreen like nobody’s business. 🙂

      • Oh, that’s nice! I might buy sunscreen from them in the future just to know the %. I tend to be able to get the ingredient list online in English — but they don’t come with %.

        I think it’s because I don’t reapply my sunscreen throughout the day, I’d feel safer with something that has high physical sunscreen %, since it doesn’t break down with exposure to UV rays the way some chemical sunscreen ingredients do.

        The Mineral Moist definitely balls up and doesn’t sit well under makeup. The Extra UV Protector (Perfect alpha) is much better under makeup. Unfortunately, it’s only 60ml per bottle, and not 90g like Mineral Moist. I had high hopes Mineral Moist would be good, too, as I also finish sunscreens very quickly (1/4 teaspoon a day is quite a lot), but alas. 🙁

  2. Totally learned something new today! Thanks for breaking down the Pa/uva/uvb lingo, super helpful. For me spf is critical. I have lupus & cannot have my skin exposed unprotected or else I’ll get rashes & find myself bedridden for days. I usually use the neutrogena spectrum+ advanced 100spf spray for my body and have just fallen in love with the missha all around safe block essence sunblock spf 45/pa+++!

    • Kerry

      Oh wow, I can’t even imagine how miserable that would be! I’m so glad you have sunscreen products to prevent that from happening. The Missha All Around Safe Block is a solid performer! It’s one of my favorites as well. 🙂

  3. Hiya Kerry!

    I’ve been lurking, reading all your posts. Finally coming out of the woodwork LOL! I’m so excited to hear more sunscreen reviews from you. I’ve had a tough year trying to find something that works for my skin. I got scared off of chemical sunscreens, but I may be changing my mind as it has become incredibly difficult to find a mineral SPF that doesn’t feel like cake batter on my face. I used Devita in the past and it was my HG! But they changed the formula and now it’s just awful. I’ve been tweaking it with Argan oil to help it absorb but I’m just over the hassle.

    I break out like crazy from silicones and Shea butter, which are in so many SPF’s. If you or anyone else has a good recommendation, I’d love to hear it. I’ve worn sunscreen religiously since I was 13. At 43, my skin is living proof that it keeps wrinkles at bay. Seriously, I’ve got a few wrinkles under my eyes, but that’s literally it. I also take good care of my skin but I’m convinced that SPF is our best friend when it comes to age defense.

    Thanks again for such an awesome blog!

    • Kerry

      Angel! I’ve been wondering where you got to. So nice to hear from you again! 🙂

      I totally get you on trying to find a sunscreen that doesn’t feel like cake batter. I’m personally on the chemical sunscreen train for that reason, and also because some of the best UVA protection available right now are chemical agents. Physical does provide some UVA protection of course, but the more I read up on it, the more I realize the level of UVA protection I want isn’t achievable with a mineral sunscreen alone. My all time favorite mineral sunscreen is still Elta MD Clear, but I’ve admittedly not tried very many of them.

      Also, you’re 43? Is that you in your comment icon? You look magnificent!

      • Angel

        Aw shucks, you made me blush! Yep, that’s me. I tell ya, genes come in to play, but I swear by sunscreen, giant Jackie O sunglasses and big-brimmed, black hats. I look like Lydia from Beetlejuice at the beach hahaha!! When my mom was my age, she still looked younger than her years. But she was a beach bunny and loved tanning. She had many more wrinkles, age spots and slacker skin than I do. I got a serious burn at the beach that laid me up on the couch for a week when I was twelve. I should have gone to the hospital in retrospect. Since that awful event, I slather myself in SFF everyday, rain or shine. Ok sorry for my life story 🙂 I’m off to google the Elta. Something sticks out in my memory that it has high silicones but hopefully I’m wrong. I just got the new Sephora Summer Skin kit. It has quite a few SPF’s to try, maybe one of those will work for me. Ooohh, and I finally ordered the new Benton Skin Toner last night. Hope to have it in a few weeks and I’ll report back. Have a great day Kerry!!

        • may

          Hi Angel, have you found THE sunscreen without silicones?

          • Angel

            Hi May,

            I have gone back to the Devita. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s the best I’ve found for my skin. I tweak it a bit by applying a drop of Argan or Maracuja on my skin first. I smooth on the oil, wait a minute, then put the Devita on top. The oil helps the Devita apply better which diminishes the white cast it’s been leaving on my skin.

            Devita isn’t perfect, I hate the white cast and wish they had kept the original formula. But every other silicone-free SPF I’ve used is so greasy. Or it contains Shea Butter which breaks me out. Vitacost has the best prices BTW. It’s less than half what they charge at Whole Foods! Hope that helps 🙂

            As an aside, Kerry??? Where are you? I miss you and seeing your blog posts. I really hope you are well and perhaps just taking a break. I hope we see you again soon!!


  4. Alice

    Ohh, was so excited about this! I recently realised that even though I have normal skin it has been getting increasingly sensitive about alcohol, giving me dry patches which are almost sore like. The texture of this seemed promising as well as I don’t tend to enjoy those watery sunscreens(this makes me a freak as most people love them, ahah).

    • Kerry

      I think you might like the one I’m reviewing later this week, Alice. It does contain alcohol, but it is actually pretty moisturizing. It’s what I was expecting the Kanebo ALLIE Mineral Moist Gel to be!

  5. Ami

    Thanks Kerry for a great review! I can’t wait to see the rest of your reviews on sunscreen. I’m still on a quest to find the perfect sunscreen for my skin. All the one I used is too sticky for me. I hear a lot of good thing about SIRCUIT’s SPF 30 but haven’t try it. Have you try this sunscreen yet?

    • Kerry

      I haven’t tried that one yet, Ami! It looks like a great possible option for people looking for a mineral-only sunscreen.

  6. What sunscreen did you end up with?

  7. Betsy

    I’m waiting on tenterhooks with my wallet out waiting for your HG sunscreen review. I use EltaMD UV Clear right now and I have such a love/hate relationship with it. I’ve been debating picking up the MUAC dupe, which is about 1/2 the price, but I keep thinking “do I really want to get twice as much sunscreen that balls up whenever I put CeraVe on it, don’t watch closely in the mirror when I rub it in, look at it wrong, or when the moon is in the 7th house and Jupiter aligns with Mars?”

    • Kerry

      HA! Your Age of Aquarius reference genuinely made me LOL at work, Betsy. 😀 I haven’t looked at the MUAC dupe yet. Just curious, are you feeling pretty committed to a mineral sunscreen? I ask only because I tend not to have much luck with those for the face. Elta MD Clear is the best mineral-only one I’ve found personally, but if it was performing for me the way it is for you, I’d hate it too!

      • Betsy

        I’m fine with using a chemical-only sunscreen for now, but at some point in the next few years I’m probably going to have to find/get used to an all-physical, silicone- and paraben-free sunscreen because of reasons.

  8. Alice

    Thanks Kerry! I’ve been trying to find an alcohol-free sunscreen for my sensitive/combo/dehydrated skin so I’m so glad you’re doing these reviews! Please do one for a sun cream if you can since I’m looking for one that does it all!

    • Kerry

      Hi Alice! I’ve got lots of SS reviews (some hits, some misses) in the coming weeks, so hopefully one of those will work for you. Does your dream sunscreen have to be mineral, or are you open to chemical sunscreens as well?

  9. charlotte

    Kerry, very informative review as always. Will the white cast be visible on tan skin tones?
    I am patiently waiting for the review of the sunscreen you finally chose 🙂

    • Kerry

      Hey Charlotte! I think it probably would be, but it’s faint enough that it wouldn’t affect the color of any makeup that was applied on top of it. 🙂

  10. I like this series. I can’t wait to find out what your “perfect” sunscreen was!

  11. shekhy

    i’ve finished this sunscreen a while ago.
    the protection is good. but it whitecast on me. i have medium skin tone. kanebo allie alpha spf 50 pa++++ the fluid, sweat, waterresistant one also whitecast on me.

  12. Sarah

    Hi Kerry, thanks for a great post. Can I ask, do you use sunscreen around your eyes? If so, do you use the same one for your face and eyes? I don’t know if I should use sunscreen around my eyes, because I use Japanese sunscreens exclusively and most of them (including your current favorite, HadaLabo) have some form of alcohol content in them. Many thanks in advance!