Shiseido vs La Roche-Posay | Which Sunscreen Is Better?

written by: Tom Qiao
last update: February 20, 2024

As a skincare editor who has tried Japanese luxury brand Shiseido alongside French pharmacy favorite La Roche-Posay, readers often ask how these sunscreen lines stack up in real life. At […]

As a skincare editor who has tried Japanese luxury brand Shiseido alongside French pharmacy favorite La Roche-Posay, readers often ask how these sunscreen lines stack up in real life. At surface level, similarities exist - both offer facial formulas with SPF 50 protection at fairly comparable price points. However, the devil is in the details, from the ingredients list to scent and texture. Here’s my take on how these sunscreen brands differ where it really counts.


On the ingredients front, Shiseido leans mineral while La Roche-Posay goes chemical. Popular Shiseido sunscreens like Urban Environment Oil-Free SPF 42 feature zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to physically deflect UV rays. You’ll also find antioxidant-rich Japanese botanicals like chai hu, angelica, and bitter orange extract for an extra boost. La Roche-Posay takes a more streamlined approach, relying on traditional chemical filters like avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene. There’s also their signature antioxidant-rich thermal spring water sourced from France. So those prone to skin sensitivity may tolerate zinc-based Shiseido better, while others appreciate La Roche-Posay’s clean formula absorption.


I’d characterize Shiseido sunscreens as essentially fragrance-free, with barely there scent profiles. La Roche-Posay infuses their Anthelios sunscreen line with a light citrusy fragrance some find refreshing but others feel is too strong. So those sensitive to added fragrances may lean towards Shiseido’s neutral options. However, neither brand is overwhelmingly scented compared to certain coconutty drugstore sunscreens!


When it comes to texture and finish, Shiseido offers luxe sophistication while La Roche-Posay stays classic French pharmacy. Creamy Shiseido formulas feel almost like a serum-moisturizer hybrid as they glide over skin, nurturing with a subtle glow. Expect a demi-matte, softly radiant finish. La Roche-Posay takes an ultra-light approach focused on fast absorption and a matte, shine-free base for makeup. So Shiseido excels at smoothing while La Roche-Posay wears sleek.


Being a luxury import brand, Shiseido commands a higher price tag averaging $36 USD for 1.7 oz - that’s around $21 per oz. Meanwhile, mid-range La Roche-Posay sunscreens retail for $30 for the same 1.7 oz volume, or under $18 per oz. However, discounts on Shiseido can bring it more in line with La Roche-Posay non-sale pricing. Ultimately, La Roche-Posay offers expected European quality at a friendlier price point. But devoted fans argue Shiseido’s sublime textures and exotic botanicals justify the splurge.

In essence, Shiseido and La Roche-Posay take different but equally effective approaches to sun protection. For luxurious facilitate that multitasks as skincare, Shiseido can’t be beat. If you seek no-fuss protection at a reasonable price, turn to La Roche-Posay. At the end of the day, both provide peace of mind against UV exposure - the choice falls to individual preference. Let me know if you have any other sunscreen questions!

Article written by Tom Qiao
Tom is the founder and editor of where he applies his decades of personal experience with skincare problems like acne and acne scarring to provide readers with practical advice and product recommendations.

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