Wetforce Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 50+ for Face
Shiseido's Wetforce Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 50+ for Face has a few caveats, but it does have a unique formulary element that the brand claims gives it an edge over other sunscreens. Best for combination to dry skin, this sheer cream adds just enough sheen and moisture to be less desirable for those with oilier skin (or those who prefer lighter, more fluid sunscreens). This contains a small amount of fragrance which may be problematic for those with sensitive skin.
An in-part mineral sunscreen, Wetforce provides broad-spectrum protection with its considerable list of actives that includes octinoxate (7.4%), octocrylene (3%), titanium dioxide (1.4%) and zinc oxide (16.4%). It leaves an initial white cast that mostly fades away after it has set. Very water resistant, it's quite a tenacious sunscreen—you'll find some extra effort is required to remove it (such as a soft washcloth paired with your cleanser). Its blend of mineral and non-mineral actives, coupled with its fragrance a moderate amount of alcohol means this isn't a formula that you would want to rely on for your daily sunscreen protection; the risk of irritation is not one to ignore.
The main appeal of this formula is the hyped Wetforce technology, which Shiseido claims gives it an edge under conditions like water exposure or extreme perspiration. According to the brand, this sunscreen technology increases in UVB/UVA protection after exposure to water or sweat, the result of an interaction between the minerals and their Wetforce formulas.
Of course, the details of how Wetforce works are largely confined to press releases, so there's no actual published, peer-reviewed research to back Shiseido's claims.
Shiseido also claims their Wetforce technology improves the aesthetics of this sunscreen, but we would argue that this is more likely the result of their use of a combination of sheer emollients and alcohol. This isn't a revolutionary approach, as alcohol has been used at all levels in a sunscreen to improve aesthetics. Unfortunately, it also comes with its drawbacks at moderate to high levels in skincare products, when they're used on a regular basis. See the More Info section for these details.
Shiseido also added antioxidants, mostly from plant extracts with little research supporting their benefit for skin. However, any variety of non-irritating plant extracts will theoretically provide some antioxidant benefit, which boosts the protection from your sunscreen by offsetting the free-radical damage incurred by UV exposure.
While we weren't thrilled with the caveats Wetforce Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 50+ for Face presents, Shiseido did include enough significant benefits, including its very water-resistant formula, high SPF, aesthetics and added antioxidants, to make this a good option to consider for occasional use—those instances of which you know you'll be exercising outdoors (and sweating profusely as a result,) or anticipate swimming or being in a humid environment.
- High, broad-spectrum SPF protection via in-part mineral sunscreen actives.
- Very water resistant.
- Tenacious formula with better aesthetics than you would expect.
- Contains added antioxidants.
- Packaged to protect its ingredients from air and light exposure.
- Contains a small amount of fragrance.
- Contains a moderate amount of alcohol, making it not ideal for daily use.
A significant amount of research shows alcohol causes free-radical damage in skin even at low levels (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 2012). Small amounts of alcohol on skin cells in lab settings (about 3%, but keep in mind skin-care products contain amounts ranging from 5% to 60% or greater) over the course of two days increased cell death by 26%. It also destroyed the substances in cells that reduce inflammation and defend against free radicals—this process actually causes more free-radical damage. If this weren't bad enough, exposure to alcohol actually causes skin cells to self-destruct (Alcohol, 2002).
Research also shows that these destructive, aging effects on skin cells increased the longer skin was exposed to alcohol; for example, two days of exposure was dramatically more harmful than one day, and that's at only a 3% concentration (Alcohol, 2002). In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).
Swim, play, and enjoy the outdoors, knowing your sunscreen loves water as much as you do. Providing powerful protection for your skin, this innovative protective veil actually becomes even more effective on the applied area when exposed to water for 15 minutes*, because of its WetForce technology. This unique formula especially for the face includes beneficial ingredients to help prevent skin dryness. Ideal for outdoor activities and sports, it provides high sun protection, yet is comfortable and gentle on the skin. Broad spectrum UV protection helps reduce the appearance of photo-aging with exclusive SuperVeil-UV 360 technology.
Strengths: Most of the sunscreens provide sufficient UVA protection and present a variety of options, whether you're looking for titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or avobenzone; a handful of good (but not great) moisturizers; worthwhile oil-blotting papers; foundations with sunscreen that provide sufficient UVA protection (and there are some wonderful foundations here); pressed powder with sunscreen for oily skin; the Perfect Rouge Lipstick is one of the best creamy lipsticks at the department store; mostly good mascaras.
Weaknesses: Expensive; several drying cleansers; boring toners; no AHA or BHA products; no products to effectively manage acne; no reliable skin-brightening options despite a preponderance of products claiming to do just that; irritating self-tanners; gimmicky masks; jar packaging; uneven assortment of concealers (and some terrible colors); average to disappointing eye and brow shapers; average makeup brushes.
Shiseido is one of the largest cosmetic companies in Japan, and the founder wants consumers worldwide to know that the brand he began is meant for all who seek beauty. Oddly enough, Shiseido (pronounced "she-say-doe"), whose products have a distinctly Japanese appearance and appeal, began in 1872 as Japan's first Western-style pharmacy. Its products have been sold in the United States for over 40 years, and it has become a nearly overwhelming product line. Although there are some respectable products, Shiseido's skin-care collection is far from a total approach to anything, unless your skin-care mantra is "it has to be average yet needlessly expensive and the routine has to include more products than any other line recommends."
A total approach to health and beauty would take into account all that has been learned to date about how skin functions, how it can repair itself, how it ages, and what it realistically takes for it to look, feel, and function at its best. Such an approach does not, however, involve cleansers with alkaline ingredients that cause skin to be unnecessarily dry, lackluster toners, or far too many products with alcohol; that can only harm the skin, which isn't beautiful in the least.
If anything, the numerous skin-care options presented here are merely average or really disappointing. Many of the moisturizers have luscious textures, but again, it takes more than a sensational feel to create exceptional products that have your skin's best interest (and best appearance) in mind.
One point of difference with this line is that Shiseido insists on regular facial massage. That means you'll find several facial massage creams, although most of them have traditional moisturizer formularies that differ little from what's seen throughout the lineup. Shiseido maintains that routine facial massage creates firmer skin that's less prone to sagging because the massage action tones the muscles, but that simply isn't true. The muscles of the face are among the most frequently used. Repetitive muscle movements are a prime cause of expression lines around the eyes, mouth, and on the forehead. Botox has become such a popular procedure because it selectively prevents these muscles from working, which smoothes creases and lines. Massage alone cannot do that; if anything, routine facial massage can encourage lines and sagging by stretching the skin. Furthermore, when skin slackens and sags, it involves more than just the muscles. Sun damage plays a role in collagen and elastin destruction, as does gravity, which causes fat pads beneath the skin to slip. And then there's bone loss, and the fact that, as we age, skin continues to grow (yet has less to hold on to).
For more information about Shiseido, visit www.shiseido.com.
Although Shiseido is known more for their seemingly endless array of skin-care products, their makeup, while not without its problem-child products, is clearly not just an afterthought. The main and most impressive part of the color collection is the foundations. For the most part they have silky textures, and provide adequate sun protection (at least an SPF 15 with UVA-protecting ingredients). If you're keen on shopping this line you should also pay attention to their Perfect Rouge Lipstick, lip gloss, the mascaras, and some distinctive specialty products. Items to avoid entirely include the eye and brow pencils and a couple of the eyeshadows; the makeup brushes are serviceable, but pale in comparison to what makeup artist-backed lines offer. Ignore the inflated claims that accompany many of Shiseido's makeup products, but don't ignore the best of what they have to offer, because in that regard, they're better than ever!
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.