Guys, I have an announcement. I’m engaged!
Yes, that’s right. The new 2015 Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence sunscreen and I plan to elope soon. We will make our lifelong commit to each other official on a sunny beach (while wearing adequate sun protection, of course). We will spend our lives supporting each other in a mature but passionate partnership of equals. I will provide the money, and Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence will provide the UV protection. And when we leave this world behind for the great snail farm in the sky, we’ll spend eternity watching over our fellow skin care fanatics, like anti-aging guardian angels.
Okay, not really, because marrying a bottle of sunscreen is weird, but that’s how much I love the 2015 reformulation of the already popular Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence sunscreen. I hadn’t been expecting it to arrive from Japan for at least another week, so when I got the package yesterday, I screamed!
Before we dive into what is obviously going to be a rave review, let’s take a minute to talk sunscreen.
Why is sunscreen important?
As most people know by now, sunscreen is vital to any anti-aging skin care regimen. UV radiation breaks down your skin’s natural collagen scaffolding and damages skin at a cellular level, leading to photoaging, sun spots, and in some cases, even cancer. UVA radiation in particular is responsible for much visible skin aging and penetrates both cloud cover and glass. If you want to prevent future wrinkles, you must protect your skin from the sun. If you want to give your other anti-aging actives a chance to work on your existing fine lines, you must protect your skin from the sun. In short, you must protect your skin from the sun.
Unfortunately for those of us in the US, that’s easier said than done.
Why is Asian sunscreen so great?
To put it bluntly, the vast majority of affordable, easily accessible US sunscreens suck. If you’ve tried a few, you know exactly what I mean. If applied in the recommended amount of 1/4 tsp for face, US drugstore sunscreens (I’m looking right at you, Neutrogena Ultra “Sheer” (heh) “Dry” (hah) Touch Sunscreen) tend to be thick and heavy, with an oily residue that never fully dries and a bright white cast that will turn even the tannest of reformed tanners into Casper the Greasy Ghost. And they often have that distinctive sunscreen smell. These flaws make the typical US drugstore sunscreen too unpleasant for anyone but the most dedicated skin care addicts to use on a daily basis, let alone in the amounts required to get the advertised protection. I know I didn’t get diligent about my sunscreen until I started using Japanese products.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the US sunscreen situation will improve much in the short term. Sunscreen is regulated as a medication. It thus falls under the governance of the FDA, which is notoriously slow at approving new sunscreen ingredients, such as the ones the Japanese and Korean skin care industries use. US-based sunscreen lovers got their hopes up last summer, when Congress approved a bill that mandated faster FDA review of sunscreen ingredients, but that hope faded when the FDA refused to approve all eight sunscreen ingredients submitted for its review earlier this year due to ingredients not meeting FDA clinical trial requirements.
It looks like we’re stuck with crappy US sunscreen formulations for now. That is, unless we turn to Asian sunscreens!
In my opinion, Asian sunscreens are far more advanced than US sunscreens. Development of most technologies is driven by the market’s perceived need for them, and East Asia’s deeply ingrained, near-universal preference for fair skin drives the continued R&D of stronger, better sunscreens. Stateside, on the other hand, mainstream beauty standards are much less focused on skin, and fair skin isn’t preferred at all. Drugstores here sell self-tanning lotions not whitening creams; tanning salons remain popular. A market that isn’t interested in achieving and maintaining fair skin isn’t a market that motivates much sunscreen R&D.
Therefore, if you want a sunscreen that’s actually pleasant to use, doesn’t stink or turn you into a clown-white greaseball, and that you know provides an adequate amount of UVA protection to prevent wrinkles, consider Asian sunscreens. Many, like the one I’m about to review, are quite affordable and easy to order from Amazon.
Review: The New 2015 Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+ PA++++
Purpose: Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence is a light, hydrating daily use facial sunscreen. It promotes healthy skin and prevents photoaging and skin cancer by protecting skin from UV radiation. The SPF 50+ designation, which indicates UVB protection, means that with proper use, you will be able to stay out in the sun without being burned for at least 50x longer than if you were not wearing sunscreen. The PA++++ designation shows that the 2015 version of Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence has UVA protection of at least 16 PPD. PA++++ is currently the highest range of UVA protection measured in the Japanese skin care industry.
Do not use if: You are sensitive to alcohol, silicones, chemical UV filters, citrus fruit extracts, or anything else in the ingredients list.
When and how to use: As the last step of your morning skin care routine, apply approximately 1/4 teaspoon to face, avoiding eye area, and another 1/4 teaspoon to neck and upper chest. Allow to dry for at least 15 minutes before applying makeup or going out into the sun. Reapply for every 2 hours of total time spent in the sun. (Not every 2 hours period. Every 2 hours of sun exposure. So if you’re in the sun for 15 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes at lunch, and another 15 minutes in the afternoon, you don’t need to reapply.)
Ingredients list: I’m uncomfortable providing an ingredients list here, because they aren’t listed on the package in English and I don’t read Japanese, so I can’t offer a direct, off-the-box translation. There is an ingredients list available on CosDNA, however.
Notable ingredients: As far as ingredients go, there isn’t too much to discuss here. Stable chemical UV filters and the solvents, emulsifiers, and moisturizers that give this product its cosmetically elegant finish make up most of the ingredients list. Down very low on the list, you’ll find sodium hyaluronate for extra hydration, vitamin- and amino acid-rich royal jelly extract to firm skin, and several citrus extracts, which I imagine are included for their brightening and/or antioxidant properties. The alcohol can be a concern for some people as well, but I do not believe it’s problematic for anyone except those with extremely dry or sensitive skin, or who are specifically reactive to alcohol.
My big concern with the 2015 version of Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence was that the reformulating necessary to get it that PA++++ rating would change its texture or finish for the worse. The older, PA+++ version of this sunscreen has long been my favorite when it comes to cosmetic elegance. I preferred to wear it instead of my PA++++ sunscreens whenever I knew I wouldn’t be outside much on a given day. Sometimes messing with something good doesn’t make it great, but instead takes away a big part of what made it good in the first place. (I mean, these fears didn’t stop me from ordering four bottles of it sight unseen, but I did worry.)
There was nothing to worry about. I’m completely ecstatic to report that the texture and finish of the 2015 PA++++ Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence sunscreen are exactly the same as the previous version!
The 2015 Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence comes out of the tube as a very light, slippy lotion with a cool and watery feel and a hint of sharp citrus fragrance and alcohol smell, both of which fade quickly. The sunscreen spreads smoothly over the face, and even at the 1/4 tsp recommended dose, massages in and absorbs quickly.
Seriously, this stuff sets and dries faster than any other sunscreen I’ve ever tried, by a long shot. I always reach for it when I’m in too much of a hurry to wait the usual 15 minutes for chemical filters to bond with my skin before applying makeup or leaving the house. And once it sets and dries, it feels and looks like absolutely nothing on the skin. No shine. No oily feeling. No white cast whatsoever. It’s so invisible that I would be nervous about whether it’s actually protecting my skin, if not for the fact that SPF and PA are tightly regulated metrics.
Despite the lack of shine or oily residue, the 2015 Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence, like the discontinued older version it replaces, provides a nice extra dose of hydration that may be enough for people with oilier skin. If you have an oily complexion, you may also appreciate the oil control that this formula provides. Its clear, natural matte finish lasts for hours, if not all day. I wouldn’t recommend skipping moisturizer if your skin is drier, however. The alcohol may prove to be a little too strong for dry or dehydrated complexions without a moisturizing cream underneath. My skin type is normal, and I use Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream under this sunscreen on more humid days and Benton Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream underneath when the weather is more arid.
As a final note, the 2015 Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence plays just as well with makeup as its predecessor did. Although the formulation does contain a few ‘cones, it is primarily water-based, and that helps to avoid issues like product pilling caused by base incompatibility. I tried applying my BB cream over this after only a 5-minute wait as well as after my more standard 15-minute wait. Both times, my BB cream went on smoothly, without caking or balling up or pilling off. The shine control is an excellent asset under makeup as well.
Conclusion: As much as I loved the completely invisible finish of the old Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence sunscreen, I didn’t use it as my everyday sunscreen because of its slightly lacking UVA protection. With the 2015 reformulation that brings it up to PA++++, however, this is now an absolute holy grail for me. Biore managed to improve the product’s one objective weakness without undermining any of its existing strengths. And as a bonus, this sunscreen is relatively easily found on websites like Amazon and is sold for a great price–usually less than $10 a bottle. Perfect. Just perfect!
Be on the lookout for our wedding photos. I think we’re going to elope very soon.
Rating: 5–the first 5 that I’ve given out on this blog!
Where can I buy the 2015 Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+ PA++++?
If you thought that something this amazing must surely be impossible to find, think again! The 2015 Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence sunscreen is available for $11.98 on Amazon with free Prime shipping (affiliate link).