Update Friday October 26, 2012
After moving home from Japan, I've experimented with this Mentholatum SunPlay Super Block again in the super dry weather while visiting my folks in the US of A. I have to say this sunscreen worked extremely well in a drier environment! It became very light and weightless in addition to making my makeup look pretty much flawless. The slight downer was that the slight white cast also became more noticeable due to the dryness of the weather and the brightness of the sun. Nothing a few fluff of setting powder couldn't correct though, and if you are living in a dry environment, this would make an excellent substitute for Allie at a fraction of the price. Really, it was no wonder why my mum loved this little red cap bottle so much!
With this confidence, I brought a few bottles with me to Taiwan, not being certain whether I would be able to find a supply of it here in Taipei. Well, turns out I was wrong on the former and correct on the latter. I was correct in that this sunscreen cannot be found here at all! I tried looking everywhere, Sasa included and still couldn't find even one bottle! However, I was unexpectedly wrong in that the humid Taiwanese weather (more humid than Japan, eeps!) turned this Mentholatum SunPlay Super Block super thick and heavy on my skin. Even after I skipped moisturizer altogether, Hadanomy AquaPlacenta Concentrated Mist included(!), it still felt as though I was walking around with a mask on. And yet with no moisturizers underneath and set with translucent powder, my t-zone still shined like an oil spill when I got to school! Through classes, I had to blot constantly to keep my nose shine-free. Not sure what happened there! :( So yeah, I had to stop using this and switched over to the Mentholatum Skin Aqua UV Sara Sara Essence, which I'd reviewed recently after having tested it in 3 different countries, Japan, US, and Taiwan ^.^
Original post Friday, August 10, 2012
A year or so after my first Allie sunscreen, I made a convert out of my mum and she loved Allie's texture and finish after Lancome and Estee Lauder, among other things, failed her (and stung her eyes badly). Late last year, having had my sister lugged home several bottles on her move back, mum started to complain about how much they cost. So I went online and found this post recommending the Top 5 Japanese Sunscreens for Summer 2011. Since mum's concern was affordability, I decided to get her a couple of bottles of Mentholatum SunPlay Super Block SPF50+ PA+++ to try, after all, its retail price is a mere 398yen for a 27mL bottle (versus Allie's 1,470yen for 25mL or 2,940yen for 60mL) and I've seen it sold for even less, 298yen(!) at certain drugstores.
By the way, there is also a Top 5 for Spring 2011 edition too and I have actually reviewed a few from both lists: obviously Allie (been using since 2008), Nivea Sun Protect Water Gel SPF30 PA++ (started using at my sister's recommendation since she's been using the Cool version on her face for a few years), most recently Allie Extra UV Gel Mineral Moist N SPF50+ PA+++ (best for winter use I decided), Mentholatum Skin Aqua UV Sara Sara Milk SPF50+ PA+++ (summer use only, definitely with moisturizer underneath as it is very drying with strong alcohol content, that said it's still much better than its alcohol-free sister UV Moisture Milk I tried a few years ago), and now this Mentholatum SunPlay Super Block SPF50+ PA+++. After this, I will probably move on to another item on the list, the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50 PA+++, so check back later ^.^
Mentholatum SunPlay Super Block SPF50+ PA+++
Anyhoo, mum's response to this SunPlay Super Block? More, please!!! However many Allie bottles she was buying before, she now buys twice as many of these SunPlay Super Blocks (they are half the size of the 60mL Allie after all!) for less than a third of the price! So her enthusiasm was what propelled it onto my list of sunscreens to try after finishing my trusty Allie supply, and of course it's also encouraging to see it among the top sunscreens lists :) And honestly, had I known Allie Extra UV Gel was so thick and heavy, I would have skipped right over it, at least for the summer.
This SunPlay Super Block is really like a milk, an unscented, runny, opaque, white milk. It goes on light enough, lighter than the Allie milk in fact since the reformulation has made the latter a bit thicker and more of an emulsion. I can tell there is alcohol in it, but it neither stings or reeks like it does with Skin Aqua UV Sara Sara Milk (every time I apply this the alcohol makes me cringe!). The SunPlay Super Block does take longer to dry, around 7-10 minutes for complete absorption. While that sounds long, it's nowhere as long as the Allie "gel" which takes at least 15 minutes.
When worn alone without makeup, the finish is dewy with a slight white cast, but again still more elegant than the Allie "gel" which requires a dusting of setting powder to achieve its beautiful luminous glow. The dewy sheen can be blotted off with an oil blotting sheet, after which the slight white cast disappears and the finish becomes completely matte and stays that way for several hours. I put it on around noon and blotted off the sheen before spending the afternoon out in the muggy heat, and by 7PM only my nose regained the initial sheen and nothing else. Pretty awesome stuff, and that's not all. Keep reading ^.^
This Super Block also makes an excellent makeup base. When I plan to wear makeup I set it with translucent powder instead of blotting with paper. And while it won't give me a gorgeous luminous glow like it would with the Allie "gel," I still get a lovely matte finish and an evened out complexion that's ready for some color. So I would say it does provide light coverage just like a bb cream would, on top of keeping my makeup extremely well. When some of the hottest nights sent me home drenched in sweat (not exactly the image of a "hot" night, is it? ^.^'), the worst thing the heat and humidity did to my makeup with this Super Block as base was "corrupted" its matte-ness into a soft focus glow. Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all.
I haven't experienced any dryness so far, but having learned my lesson the hard way I will continue to layer moisturizer underneath this Super Block. Good thing it does not exacerbate or emphasize the (healing) dry and flaky patches caused by the Sara Sara Milk. So yeah, considering its dirt cheap price this red capped baby is pretty amazing stuff. No wonder mum's hauling it like a mad woman! It is water and sweat resistant, which is why it keeps makeup so well, but this also means it requires an oil cleanser for complete removal.
And of course it's not perfect. On top of the slight white cast (before blotting or setting with powder) and the longer absorption time, it's also a tad stickier and slightly heavier than my trusty Allie milk, even after drying completely. Also, if I am to go without makeup, I still prefer Sara Sara Milk's elegant powder-without-actual-powder finish, even as alcohol-laden and drying as it is (I guess I haven't learned my lesson after all :P). But at least for the summer and with makeup, this Super Block is putting up a serious fight for my love. And it's truly impressive, I have to say.