Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence

Good Or Nah?

You guys are smart and I don’t need to GO ON AND ON about the importance of wearing sunscreen. Buuuuut I also know a lot of people have a hell of a time finding one they’re willing to actually use on the regular (DAILY. WEAR IT DAILY!). Weird smells, a greasy feeling, poor performance under makeup, the dreaded White Cast … all that on top of “wtf is even in there, is this actually good protection or no?” So let’s look at one that pretty much classifies as a “cult favorite” :

Okay let’s just address My Main Issue with this stuff right off the bat : it comes in a thousand different damn versions, whose formulas apparently change slightly over time, and then there’re special editions which may or may not differ slightly from the “original,” plus just trying to get The Right One for your skin and your preferences, PLUS trying to get the correct product when dealing with imports and possibly inaccurate product listings, PLUS the fact that I don’t know Japanese which complicates things because I can’t read the freaking labels. ANYWAY. When I bought this on Amazon, it was listed as the 2017 version, yet the outer packaging said something inscrutable about 2014 on it, but that may be the year it was given some “best of” award thing, and the tube itself doesn’t have a date (that I can discern] listed on it, so  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.


The main divide here is “do you want the Watery Essence or the Watery Gel?” I read a ton of reviews of both, and also poked around online for direct comparisons between the two. Both have a lot of similarities so far as the ingredients and look/feel go — they have a lot of the same stuff, both apply sheerly and have no white cast, both are fruity-citrusy-scented, both are non-greasy. The Essence is usually noted as having a slightly thicker/creamier feel, though I did see a couple of comments that it feels more drying than the Gel for some people. The Gel also contains both chemical and physical sunblock elements, so it could be considered more “hardcore” (but still, if you’re doing a Big Day In The Sun, slather yourself with a serious physical barrier over top, like with zinc etc). However, the Gel version contains stearic acid, which is ACNEGENIC AF for me, so that was my deciding factor. Essence it is!

Again, I can’t read Japanese, so here is an approximately-correct list o’ the contents :

INGREDIENTS : water, alcohol, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, lauryl methacrylate/ sodium methacrylate crosspolymer, c12-15 alkyl benzoate, bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine, diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate, dimethicone, ethylhexyl triazone, silica dimethyl silylate, dipropylene glycol, xylitol, dextrin, palmitate, acrylates/c10-30 acrylate crosspolymer, dimmethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, polysilicone-9, glyceryl stearate, aminomethyl propanol, dimethicone/methicone silsesquioxane crosspolymer, agar, isoceteth-20, c30-45 alkyl methicone, polyvinyl alcohol, c30-45 olefin, sodium hydroxide, butylene glycol, propylene glycol, sodium hyaluronate, royal jelly extract, orange fruit extract, grapefruit extract, lemon fruit extract, phenoxyethanol, disodium edta, bht, fragrance.

Yes, ALCOHOL OH NO. Whatever, I’m not gonna worry about it as long as this shit does its job. It also has hyaluronic acid and royal jelly extract! So that’s nice.


The stuff itself is a pale ivory color and feels like a cream-gel hybrid, or just a slightly creamy gel. It does have a citrus scent (predominantly lemony-orangey to me), that’s quite noticeable while applying, but it’s barely detectable once dried.

After rubbing it in, it takes about a minute to fully sink in and/or dry down, but even after you start spreading it around, it immediately goes from white to clear.

I tried to take a photo of the back of my hand after it dried to show you the texture, but honestly it just looked like “skin.” Which, in my book, that’s good! And actually, the back of that hand looks and feels very slightly “moisturized,” but also it appears very slightly smoother and more matte than my bare hand, so that’s ALSO good!


I tend to not only avoid the sun, but also avoid even exiting my shady house during daylight hours if I can at all help it, so I can’t attest to any physical evidence (or lack thereof) of how well this blocks tan-causing UVB rays, much less cancer-bomb UVA rays. (If you need a refresher on sun protection, Finch has you covered! And she talks about the Watery Gel version there too!) But I can tell you that it doesn’t irritate my skin, which leans “sensitive” or at least “mildly tetchy” sometimes. It also doesn’t break me out. It does feel slightly moisturizing, though nowhere near enough so if you have “normal” skin, and/or wear makeup, and/or are on Retin-A like I am. It does NOT feel drying to me, but again, aside from surface peelies from the Retin-A, my skin is very verrrry oily. And the real test — it layers no problem with my other face stuff, and performs just fine when worn under makeup, with no pilling or textural weirdness. Woo! In fact, when I apply hyaluronic serum, then a tiny bit of squalane, then this stuff? It results in a skin-surface feel that’s plush but also kinda … grabby? So it feels like my makeup applies particularly well and smoothly. Ooo!

THE VERDICT : GOOD! Super good! Granted, this is not the only nice-yet-affordable high-protection daily-wear sunscreen on the market — plenty of other Japanese and Korean brands in particular have comparable (or maybe even better) offerings. But this one has such a solid track record, is relatively easy to get and pretty inexpensive (I got a two-pack of the 1.7oz tubes on Amazon, currently $20.99) And as a side note, our Rodney just tried this as well, and he reported to me that it absorbs well for him too, and doesn’t burn his eyes if he gets sweaty. Yay! DO YOU NEED IT? YES IF : you want to try a fairly inexpensive sunscreen that has solid protection and great reviews (90% 4-5 star ratings on Amazon), AND/OR if you need something that performs well with makeup, AND/OR if your skin tends oily and you want something that doesn’t feel or look greasy, this is worth a shot!