Monday, May 29, 2017

Biore UV Aqua Rich - Whitening and BB Essences

Biore part 1 is here.

This part is updated with new, fun info below (because clueless beauty editors are clueless).

When someone proudly tells you that they are using a Japanese sunblock, chances are they mean Biore. And when they say they are using Biore, chances are they mean the one in the blue tube. Which is not the Biore we are going to talk about today.

In the previous Biore episode I've already given you my very important thoughts on all three Biore milks (they are "meh" and "get this shit off my face" and "has potential but still meh").

Today we are going to talk about the Biores in thin long tubes, none of them blue.

The first contestant is Biore UV Aqua Rich BB Essence SPF 50+ PA++++, at least that's what it says in English on the front of the tube. On the back it says Biore Sarasara UV Aqua Rich BB Essence in Japanese.

Whatever. I'm so over this Japanese crap with several different names for one product. And apparently, all of them official. Oddly enough, it's always the English names that are the shortest and most concise. And thank god. The longer the English name, the potential for hilarious spelling fuckups increases.

Anyway, where was I?

Ah yes... Biore (Sarasara) UV Aqua Rich BB Essence SPF 50+ PA++++.

Some misguided foreign souls think this is a BB cream. I can't blame them. They see the "BB" on the package and make the only obvious assumption. But this is Japan, and nothing is ever so simple here.

In this case, this "BB" means "this sunscreen has a touch of color". A proper BB cream would have the word "foundation" somewhere on the back of the tube. Yes, BB creams are considered, and rightly so, foundations in Japan.

This thing here, this Biore (Sarasara) UV Aqua Rich BB Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ is just a tinted sunscreen.


Last week (June 5th, I think) this Allure online article from April 14, 2017 was pointed out to me.
In it, the author, Sarah Kinonen (she has removed her byline after this blog post was published) shows that researching the topic you are going to write about is a totally foreign concept to her.
Not surprising at all since the same associate digital beauty editor says she "graduated college", so you can easily imagine the level of beauty journalism represented here.  
She's apparently unaware that Biore makes different products for different Asian countries. And that the products tend to have similar names while their formulas might be wildly different.
But I guess it's so much easier to steal content from Reddit than to actually fire up Google and look up the finer details.  
Yes, the entire article was basically stolen from this Asian Beauty Reddit thread - link.
In it, the redditor reviewed the Singapore-exclusive Biore Aqua Rich UV Watery BB, which is SPF50+ PA+++, and which is NOT the same as the Japanese Biore (Sarasara) UV Aqua Rich BB Essence SPF 50+ PA++++. 
Of course, Ms. Kinonen, apparently not aware that Asia isn't one big country, confused Singapore with Japan. Because that would actually require reading the Reddit review she was stealing. And who has time for that, right? 
So, Ms. Kinonen calls it a "Japanese" tinted moisturizer. Which is really funny, because if there's one thing that Biore sunscreens are NOT, that's moisturizers. But that would actually require buying and testing a product, and who has time for that, right? 
And finally, trying to be helpful, she links to an Amazon listing for a Japanese version of Biore from 2014 that has long been discontinued (since 2015). She also doesn't know that the reason why it is NOT sold on Amazon in the United States directly by Biore's parent company, Kao, is the fact that it contains UV blockers that are not approved by the FDA for use in the US.
Seriously, just how dumb is this woman?  
 Ms. Kinonen, look here! It IS sold by Kao on Amazon. Amazon Japan! 
Is this the level of beauty journalism presented by a supposedly leading beauty magazine, such as Allure? If so, that's pretty funny. I'm going to start reading it regularly, just for kicks and giggles. 

Ms. Kinonen blocked me from following her on Twitter. Poor soul... Does she realize I also follow Allure? Though being blocked by Allure on Twitter would be awesome!

As of June 13th, Ms. Kinonen has removed her name from the Allure story and changed the word "Japanese" to "Singaporean" in her (stolen from Reddit) article. The rest, including the Amazon link to a discontinued in 2015 Japanese product, is the same.
Yes, apparently research is still too difficult for her.
And I am still blocked by her on Twitter.

Biore (Sarasara) UV Aqua Rich BB Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ comes in just one shade, I guess you could call it light beige, and I guess it should work for skin tones up to  NC25-ish, or so. Basically, from pale up to your standard East Asian complexion.
It's a fairly neutral beige that is supposed to even out your skin tone and make it appear clearer and brighter.

And, boy oh boy, brighter it does.

Honey, with this Biore (Sarasara) UV Aqua Rich BB Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ you're gonna glow. Like a Korean pop star three years ago. You want watery and dewy? You're gonna get it.

Basically, this sunscreen is going to turn your face into a wet-looking, shiny disco ball. The "wet-looking" distinction is important, because while looking wet, this Biore (Sarasara) UV Aqua Rich BB Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ is not going to give your poor face any moisture.

Yeah, yeah, I know they said that "essence" and "Aqua Rich". Well, fuckem. They lied.
That the sunscreen applies like water, it doesn't mean it's going to act like water. Though, wait, actually it does! Water evaporates and your skin ends up feeling dry. Biore (Sarasara) UV Aqua Rich BB Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ is exactly the same.

In my case all this sunscreen did, apart from turning me into a glowing supernova, was dry my face out more than I thought possible. And trust me, I have dry skin. I know what "dry" means.

In many ways, that's still an improvement over the Biore milks. At least Biore (Sarasara) UV Aqua Rich BB Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ did not break me out and it did not aggravate my rosacea. When I washed it off at the end of the day, my skin felt dry, but it wasn't red.

Yeah, they say it works as a makeup base. Maybe it does. For someone else. For me, it didn't. The rolling and pilling was exquisite. The only thing that did work was powdering the shine away and calling it a day. Seriously. I just can't be bothered.

Add the fact that this thing is not sweat- nor waterproof and I seriously wonder why people even buy this shit. And Biore continues to make it.


We get 33 grams of this glowy goodness and according to the directions, we're supposed to use about 1.5 cm in diameter. And it does have a scent. It's not particularly offensive, but it's there. I'm currently dealing with the mother of all hay fevers, so whatever smell this product has, it didn't bother me at all.

Saint Ratzilla of the Sunscreens (seriously, she should be nominated for sainthood for her translation work) has the ingredients for you.
Biore (Sarasara) UV Aqua Rich BB Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ ingredientslink.

It has the usual Biore soup of UV filters:

  • Octinoxate
  • Titanium Dioxide
  • Tinosorb S, and
  • Uvinul A Plus

which means it offers full UVA1 and UVA2 and UVB protection.

And you know what?

I don't mind the glow. In fact, I quite like it. I also quite like the texture. I like that it doesn't make me any redder than I am. I don't mind that it didn't work with makeup for me.
What I don't like is that despite having "aqua" and "rich" and "essence" in the name, Biore (Sarasara) UV Aqua Rich BB Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ is still very drying.


Ok, moving on...

Next up we have Biore UV Aqua Rich Whitening Essence SPF 50+ PA++++.
Or, as it's also known Biore (Sarasara) UV Aqua Rich Whitening Essence SPF 50+ PA++++.

This sunscreen, as most "whitening" skincare in Japan, is considered a quasi-drug here. What it means is that it must list the active ingredient first, and then the rest.

And here we have an interesting difference between Japan and the US. In Japan, sunscreen is considered a cosmetic, not a drug. In the US it is a drug. So when you buy an American sunscreen, the active ingredients listed will be UV blockers and UV absorbers. Not so in Japan.

And that is why this sunscreen lists chamomile extract as its active ingredient. Because what makes it a quasi-drug is not the UV blocking / absorbing properties, but its whitening claim.

For ingredients in English please hop over to Ratzilla.
Biore UV Aqua Rich Whitening Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ ingredient list - link.

Again, we have the usual Biore mix of UV filters, nothing special here.
As for the whitening properties, I can't really tell you much. But just use your common sense. This tiny tube of 33 grams of sunscreen is not going to erase your dark spots.
What it may do is, if you reapply religiously and are lucky, prevent the formation of more sunspots. But then again, it's a damn sunscreen! This is what it's supposed to do even without any whitening claims.

Biore UV Aqua Rich Whitening Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ again claims to go on the skin like water. And yes it does. And just like its BB sister, it looks quite dewy. But, mercifully, without the supernova effect. Just a normal dewy look.
What I found odd was that it did leave a bit of a white cast. It was especially visible around my eyebrows and by the hair line.

Despite the claims that it should work as a makeup base, it didn't. Literally anything put on top of it would roll. It was hideous. Again, the only thing that did work was loose powder.

Biore UV Aqua Rich Whitening Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ did not break me out and it didn't make my face red. Actually, to my utter surprise, when I washed it off my face looked LESS red than before. Unfortunately, my face also looked pretty dry. Despite being all "aqua" and "rich" this Biore UV Aqua Rich Whitening Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ is very drying.
And despite being so drying, it's not even sweat- or waterproof.

What else?
Oh yes, there's some fragrance, but since I'm out of my allergy meds, I can't really tell you what it is.

And you know what?
If this fucker wasn't so drying, then it would be an OK sunscreen, because I don't care about makeup.


And this is your bonus contestant today - Biore UV Aqua Rich Gel Lotion SPF33 PA+++.
Or, as it's also called Biore UV Aqua Rich Refreshing Gel Lotion SPF33 PA+++ (that's its Japanese name), or Biore Sarasara UV Aqua Rich Refreshing Gel Lotion SPF33 PA+++.

This is a body sunscreen that comes in a huge (by Japanese standards) 90ml bottle. I hate the flip top, because it's very flimsy, but I guess for that price (around 700 yen) I should shut up and stop complaining.

Oddly enough, I find this sunscreen quite pleasant to use. Yes, I know it's only SPF33 and only PA+++, but I used it on my arms and legs during our heatwave last week and it was surprisingly soothing on the skin.

The citrusy smell is quite strong, it reminds me of stick deodorant, but hey, I'd rather reek of citrus than of sweat.

Ratzilla has the full ingredient list, so take a look if you are interested.

Biore UV Aqua Rich Gel Lotion SPF33 PA+++ ingredientslink.

All I can say is, pity it's not SPF50, but for a simple body sunscreen I guess SPF33 will do. And pity it's not waterproof, but supposedly OK for sweat and sebum. And you can just wash it off in the shower using your normal body wash, no oil cleanser required.

So that's it for today.
Three more Biores down, three more to go. But that's next time.

Have a great week everyone, and for the love of everything that is dear, use sunscreen!


  1. O, wlasnie konczy mi sie tubka tego filtra wybielajacego. Nie zauwazylam wysuszenia skory, ale ja ma dojrzala mieszana, wiec nawet jesli troche wysusza, to tak akurat. Co do bazy pod makjaz, to rzeczywiscie niezbyt sie sprawdza (uzywam kompaktu Kanebo Coffret d`or). Anna

    PS. Czytam Twojego bloga od daawna, ksiazke tez przeczytalam, z ogromna przyjemnoscia. Dopiero dzisiaj odwazylam sie skomentowac.

  2. Are sunscreens labeled for daily use actually different from those labeled for sports/outdoor activities? In the US there doesn't seem to be so much of a distinction; I just see dermatologists recommending that you reapply sunscreen at least every couple hours as long as you're exposed to the sun, regardless of the brand/label. Thought I'd ask since you seem knowledgeable about chemistry as well as sunscreen.

    1. Yes, they are different. The ones for sports and outdoor activities are normally thicker and super waterproof. They don't rub as easily and don't slide off and disappear when you start to sweat. In other words, their formulations are more heavy-duty.

  3. Ugh, I hate to be a gatekeeper or some "asian beauty before it was cool" kind of person but those Allure articles that literally just rip off of Reddit's content irritate me so much. The writers that obviously don't really know what they're talking about and just sell products rip off of our discussion and use it to turn a profit.

    1. I totally agree with you and that is why I added my commentary on the Allure article here.
      Next time if you want to comment, could you be so kind and sign it?
      I made an exception for you, because I normally delete anonymous comments.

  4. Thanks for test-driving so many Biore sunscreens for lost foreign souls like me! The revelation that BB /= BB cream in Japan? MIND BLOWN.

    Also, I just read your note above on commenting, I apologize for my other anonymous comment whoops!

  5. Hi Anna, my skin is pretty similar to yours (dry, sensitive) and the regular Biore sunscreens everyone loves irritated my face horribly! I'm glad I found someone with a similar experience to me because I was starting to think I was the only one. Have you ever tried the Biore Nobi-Nobi Kids sunscreen? I heard it's a lot more gentle (and I'm in love with the price tag).


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