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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