OK, so you don’t necessarily need mineral water spray or slather your face with $200 yeast! Just never forget one thing, please, and that’s proper sun protection. Rain or shine, sun protection is the mother of all preventive measures against basically all signs of premature aging in our skin, particularly wrinkles and age spots. But also, it shields our skin from harmful UV rays and thus lowers the risk of skin cancer. So, younger, better looking skin and a disease-free prolonged life?
You had me at ‘better looking’.
But what a hassle when most of the face sunscreens out there are terrible. Despite claims such as ‘non-greasy’, ‘oil-free’ or ‘ultra-sheer’, they’re really none of that! On the contrary, many sunscreens from Europe, the US or even from South-Korea apply like softened butter, dry to a pasty white or, even worse, do both. And when they’re OK texture-wise, they’re usually so pricy it feels wrong to waste it. Yet sunscreen applied sparingly is like wearing none at all.
So our hopes lie in Japan
High SPF and UVA protection, lightweight and non-sticky texture, non-greasy and matte finish, and above all affordable – if you’re looking for a sunscreen suitable for every day, Japan is where you’ll find it. Because Japan is where the best sunscreens in the world are from.
Or so I say.
My favorite sunscreens for the face so far were all from Japanese brands: I used the Sana Nameraka Honpo Soy Milk UV Foundation Base for the longest time, and when that proved too tedious to find from Germany, I switched to Bioré’s UV Perfect Face Milk SPF 50+ PA+++.
Here’s a quick review and a comparison of both of them
First, the Mousse
Mousse as well as Essence are both very lightweight and come out of the tube a light yellow-ish color. The Mousse is a little denser and firmer than the Essence, whereas the Essence distinctly smells of alcohol. Neither of them clog pores.
The Mousse is creamy and a little grainy, spreads and applies easily, absorbs fairly quickly, and dries down to a natural finish that’s neither matte nor shiny.
Natural, if it weren’t for one thing.
Due to the titanium dioxide in the formula, a physical sunblocker, the Mousse leaves a white cast behind. It’s not as bad as other face sunscreens I’ve tried, and if you layer BB cream, tinted moisturizer or foundation on top of it, it doesn’t pose a problem. But on its own, it’s noticeable, albeit subtly so.
Also, I find the Mousse is slightly drying on my cheeks, which are normal skin. My mineral water spray trick solves this for me. But dry skin types should still beware!
Second, the Essence
The Essence on the other hand has a more gel-like quality. It spreads and applies even more easily and absorbs faster than the Mousse. In fact, as soon as it hits the skin, it becomes basically translucent and seems to disappear. This makes it easy to really apply the recommended 1/4 teaspoon every day. Once the Essence has dried down, furthermore, it’s like there’s nothing: no sticky feeling, no greasy finish, no white cast, no nothing. It’s perfect!
OK, well, not absolutely perfect. It has a high alcohol content, which you can smell. Fortunately, however, it does not affect me negatively in this particular product, not even by feeling drying. Sensitive skin types, however, should still be cautious. Alcohol in skin care is a potential skin irritant after all.
I can assure you that I’ve tried a lot of different sunscreens so far, and even the best among them left something to be desired. Either too low SPF, or, when after a long day the formula melt down, they stung my eyes.
The Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+ PA++++, however, is pretty close to perfect for me, and if you think of the additional titanium dioxide in the formula as a plus, so is the Bioré Aqua Rich UV Face Mousse SPF 50+ PA+++ too. Which means that if you were looking for a good sunscreen for the face recently, what with spring here and summer approaching slowly, I can fully recommend both.
Just a note on active sunscreen ingredients in general
Recent studies have pointed out potential health risks associated with chemical sunscreen ingredients. I thought it wrong not to mention it.
The only other option here is mineral face sunscreens that contain physical blockers only. Personally, though, I know not a single mineral sunscreen that’s not unsightly thick and pasty. (See my lamentations above.) If you know one, I appreciate recommendations.
So in the end, with UVA- und UVB-rays posing even greater health risks, it’s about weighing one downside against the other. Whichever you choose, I still think sun protection is better than no sun protection.
And last but not least, where can you cop?
People in Asia should have no problems finding Bioré at Watsons or most other drugstores. For us in Europe or the US, sasa.com offers free shipping even for international orders. For more, Musings of a Muse has a comprehensive list of online shops for Japanese and Korean beauty. Also, to get a feeling for prices: one tube of either Essence or Mousse cost me less than €10 both in Vietnam as well as in Taiwan.