Best Pick: SKIN AQUA UV Sara-sara Essence [DISCONTINUED]

Mentholatum SKIN AQUA Sara-sara Essence, a Japanese sunscreen review

I am notoriously hard to please when it comes to sunscreens. Once I find something I don’t like or find lacking in some way — and I always do — I move on to something else and rarely look back. It doesn’t help that there’re so many new sunscreens released every year in Japan that cater to almost every need. By the time I’ve thoroughly tested this year’s, next year’s releases will be out already.

Rohto’s SKIN AQUA UV Sara-sara Essence stood out to me among the sea of non-milky, daily use sunscreens as it uses Tinosorb S (as well as Titanium Dioxide and Uvinul A Plus) as its UVA filters — making it more UVA-protective than its competitors who rely solely on Uvinul A Plus for UVA protection.

Its closest direct competitor is Biore UV AQUA Rich Watery Essence (you can read my review on it here), which I love and has the same ‘bare skin’ concept, labelled UV protection, price point, and packaging.

This is an opaque white gel that is fragrance-free. Does it feel or look anything like Biore’s? No but I love the texture of this — lightweight and watery fresh yet moisturising. The formula takes a bit longer to absorb completely (around 5 minutes for me) but once it does, it leaves the skin feeling hydrated and soft, but not greasy in the slightest. The finish isn’t matte, and if you have a full on oil-slick problem then perhaps a dusting of powder on the T-zone is in order, but that aside, it really makes skin look smooth and moisturized without the silicone-y feel. It doesn’t turn my face into a shiny mess (or dry and flaky) half way through the day either.

The formulation is pretty impressive for such an inexpensive sunscreen — featuring not one but four water-binding ingredients (hyaluronic acid, sodium acetyl hyaluronate, amino acid, and collagen) to boost and maintain skin’s optimal moisture level without any unnecessary frills, extracts, and fragrances.

Daily use sunscreens like SKIN AQUA UV Sara-sara Essence are designed for ‘normal’, everyday urban use — not for the beach, hiking, or other outdoor activities. (For that, it’s best to stick with good old fashioned sunscreen milks.) I spend a good portion of my day on the top floor of a high-rise next to full-length windows (A.K.A. RatzillaCosme‘s headquarter), i.e. indoor but plenty of sun, and I feel very protected with this — more so than many other daily use sunscreens.

So to recap: great everyday sunscreen for those with normal to dry skin. It offers high UV protection but without the need for separate remover. There’s nothing particularly fancy about the Skin Aqua sunscreen but at around 600 JPY for a 50g tube, it’s an absolute steal. I still love Biore’s but for now, I’ve have a new favourite.

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mia
mia

hi apart from solaveil sunscreen can you suggest a good pa ++++ sunscreen for face that is good for outdoor use but is more cheaper than the allie sunscreen

Linda
Linda

Hi, reading the above comments I’m hoping that there are Japanese sunscreens that are moisturizing for those of us who have mature skin and live in dry climate like California? Since I’m using the Obagi Nu-derm system for my facial hyperpigmentation spots, my Derm recommended a sunscreen with zinc in it. The Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection SPF50+ doesn’t seem to be preventing new spots even though it has 19.3% zinc in it and I don’t know what the PA rating for it is. Oh, and did I mention that I need it to work well as a base under my… Read more »

Linda
Linda

Hi, I’ve been haunting your site regularly to find the perfect sunscreen to prevent further hyperpigmentation spots on my face. I live in California (dry climate) and my mature combo-dry skin (from Obagi Nu-derm system which includes Retin-A) needs a very moisturizing, cosmetically elegant, high zinc content sunscreen that will not interfere with my foundation (ie: Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection 50+ Lotion– I know your thoughts on Shiseido’s international line, but my choices are very limited here.) My friend is visiting Japan in June and is willing to pick something up for me. Any suggestions? Also, do I apply moisturizer… Read more »

Kathy
Kathy

I was wondering why you prefer this over the Biore one? I wanna know before I order this sunscreen. Thanks 🙂

Joslynn
Joslynn

Just wanted to leave a comment that I really appreciate your product reviews, especially on Japanese sunscreens. I frequently visit your website to find out your thoughts on the latest Japanese sunscreens to. I frequently make purchases based on your reviews as I hold your opinion in high esteem, and I have not been dissapointed yet. Please keep them coming! 🙂

rika
rika

thank you for all the reviews and great website. I´m considering buying this one. do you have any info about this brand being cruelty-free or not?

Beauty Box
Beauty Box

Wow – sounds great! I gotta try this baby out!

C.C
C.C

Hi,I am trying to purchase this from rakuten but I’m not too sure which kind of shipping is cheaper to choose from; Rakuten International Shippping Services or Domestic Shipping Services, as the details are written in Japanese.Please advice.

Thanks!!

Jinx
Jinx

This is actually super similar to the Hada Labo UV Creamy gel which is also spf50 / PA+++. They’re both owned by Rohto and use the same new technology including Tinosorb S. I personally prefer these two sunscreens over the Biore because they have better filters versus the Biore sunscreen which only has octinoxate and uvinul a plus. Still, it’s really great to find all of these daily use sunscreens that are reasonably priced.

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