Say the word ‘sunscreen’ and you can almost hear a resigned sigh resounding across the globe. The great UV protector is something no woman (or man) should live without on a daily basis, yet the love-hate relationship we all have with that white gloop remain universal. Before my torrid affair with Biore, I equated wearing my Western sunscreens to living life in a condom. That’s how it felt.

But then I discovered the lovely, #1 best-selling Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence (boy what a mouthful) which changed my life forever. FOREVER. The easy, fast-absorbing formula swept away all my bad feelings towards sunscreen in one fell swoop, and I was an instant convert. No more stupidly thick white cast and nonsense pilling, y’all!

Me with Biore sunscreens
Me with Biore sunscreens

Since then, I’ve been using the Watery Essence sunscreen for years, and am on my umpteenth tube. Recently, however, the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Mousse finally joined the permanent lineup of Biore sunscreens in Singapore, and I wanted to test it out against my usual Watery Essence.

INGREDIENTS

Similarities

Both Mousse and Essence contain the Biore breakthrough Aqua Micro Capsules, which release moisture and UV protection upon contact with skin. In case you’re wondering, no, you can’t feel them like the beads in your old-school face scrubs. Both sunscreens also have hyaluronic acid (yum!) and the Biore signature mix citrus compound of orange, grapefruit, and lemon extracts to hydrate and soften skin.

As for active UV blockers, both include Octinoxate, Uvinul A Plus, and Tinsorb S. Octinoxate is a gentle chemical agent that absorbs UVB rays effectively and help other ingredients sink into the skin readily. However, while it is less likely to trigger adverse/allergic reactions, it’s included in the list of filters that can potentially disrupt hormones.

Uvinul A Plus, by comparison, is an absolute sweetheart of a chemical agent. Not only does it absorb UVA rays well and work great with other sunscreen agents, it is also one of the safest filter, posing low toxicity and allergen risks.

Tinsorb S is a broad-spectrum chemical filter that absorbs both UVA and UVB rays. While it is not FDA-approved ( hence not available in the US and Canada), it is widely used in Europe, Australia, and other countries. It is oil-soluble (increasing water resistance) and helps to stabilise other actives.

Differences

Here’s the biggest difference between these two: the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Mousse sunscreen is a physical/chemical hybrid, while the Essence is a chemical sunscreen. Physical sunscreens work by reflecting harmful rays off your skin, while chemical ones absorb them before they can reach our skin. Physical sunscreens work better against UVB (burning) rays, but tend to be thick and gloopy, leaving a white cast and sticky residue behind. Also, said suffocating condom feeling.

Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Mousse Sunscreen Nozzle

Chemical sunscreens work best against UVA (pigmentation) rays and has lighter textures, but there is growing concern of the free radicals generated during the absorption process, which can mess with your hormones.

Other than the three chemical agents above, Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence also has Uvinul T 150, a highly effective chemical agent against UVB rays that is long lasting and water-resistant. In comparison, the Mousse has Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, the two main physical sunscreen agents. Both are culprits of the ghostly white cast you sometimes get, due to the size of its particles (the bigger, the more protection there is), and the fact that they exists in a white pigment form. Good guy Zinc Oxide also does double duty by blocking and scattering both UVA and UVB rays, while Titanium Dioxide fends off mostly UVA.

SIZE & PRICE

At first sight, the most obvious difference between these two is the size. Asian sunscreens are usually tiny, which I love because they’re so great for travel, but even at 33g, the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Mousse comes in a much smaller packaging than the Essence. The size discrepancy is definitely not unwelcomed, because while it looks tiny, the product has been packed more tightly than the Essence. I’ve been using the same tube of Mousse since…  early August. Wow that’s actually freaking long, considering a 55g tube of Essence only lasts me about a month. Both retail for SGD18.90.

TEXTURE & APPLICATION

Biore Sunscreen Smackdown UV Aqua Rich Watery Mousse VS UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence - Swatch -1

I’ve always loved the water-based Essence’s light and fluffy texture, but it can be a little drying due to alcohol in the formula. The Mousse is slightly thicker and less spreadable, but absorbs just as quickly. Even better, it doesn’t feel as drying on the skin. It leaves a slight white cast on the face, but disappears by the time I get around to my face makeup. Both have that light citrus fragrance Biore sunscreens always smell of.

Both the Essence and Mousse have always played well with other skincare and makeup. I usually put my sunscreen on before my Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream and makeup in the mornings, and neither pill nor streak after drying down. Fabulous.

AND THE WINNER IS…

Category
Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery
Essence SPF50+ PA++++
Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery
Mousse SPF50+ PA++++
Point to..
Price S$18.90 S$18.90 Tie
Size 55 grams 33 grams Mousse
Packaging Squeeze tube Smaller squeeze tube Mousse
Fragrance Light citrus Light citrus Tie
Ingredients

Hyaluronic acid
Citric extracts
Octinoxate*
Uvinul A Plus*
Uvinul T 150*
Tinsorb S*

Hyaluronic acid
Citric extracts
Octinoxate*
Uvinul A Plus*
Tinsorb S*
Zinc Oxide*
Titanium Dioxide*

Mousse
Texture Watery and light  Light creamy  Essence
Application Lots of slip, absorb instantly

Slightly thick, have to work fast
Sinks into skin within seconds

 Essence
Finish Dewy Matte, slight white cast Essence

WINNER: BIORE UV AQUA RICH WATERY…. MOUSSE!

Yes, yes, it’s three for three… but ingredients get a lot more say in skincare stuff. In conclusion, the Mousse gives way more protection in exchange for a little white cast (that disappears in seconds!) and a slightly thicker consistency. That’s what I call a bargain in my books.

Have you tried Biore sunscreens? Which ones are your favourite?

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