Nivea Sun Protect Aqua Gel SPF 50 PA+++ Sunscreen Review

I’m working on a post about everything I know about sunscreen, mostly for my own benefit, because I’ve read so much on the topic and need to take the time to organize and parse through all the information.

In the meantime, I will be doing impression posts about the sunscreens I recently purchased as I work my way through the haul. Since their function is simply to protect my skin from the sun, the impression posts will focus on how pleasant it is to apply and wear the sunscreens, rather than what they do for my skin. I suppose I could take each sunscreen, put it on, and stand out in the sun for 2 hours to see how well they hold up, but that’s not really something I want to subject my skin to. I’ve also hoarded a whole other collection of outdoor / sport sunscreens, for occasions like those.

First up is Nivea Sun Protect Aqua Gel, which has been my go to everyday sunscreen for about two years. For 2015, Nivea Japan released a new version of this sunscreen, but, having already gone through 1.5 bottles of the new formulation, I can say with some confidence that whatever change was made is not noticeable. I picked up two bottles and a refill from Rakuten.



First, the packaging. This comes in both a squirt bottle and a pump bottle. I keep the pump bottle and home and throw the squirt bottle in my purse / gym bag, in case I need to reapply when not at home. I love the pump bottle because it is super convenient, hygienic, and allows for excellent control over how much sunscreen I want to apply.

77283-01What won me over about this sunscreen is the texture. True to its name, it is a water gel. Growing up, I swam year-round growing up and had a tortured relationship with sunscreen. I hated the the thickness, the smell, the white cast, and the filminess of the sunscreens I used to use. This sunscreen bypasses all of those cosmetic unpleasantries. It has the texture of an oil-free, gel moisturizer. It spreads easily, has a nice cooling effect, and leaves no trace or cast of white at all.

The ingredients, taken from the Master of Life page and run through a translation app, are as follows. Cosdna acne triggers and irritants can be found here.

Water, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (aka octinoxate), ethanol, Propylene Glycol, dimethicone, ethylhexyl triazone (aka Uvinul T 150), diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate (aka Uvinul A Plus), sodium hyaluronate, phellodendron amurense bark extract, quince seed extract, tocopheryl acetate, acrylates / acrylic acid (C10-30) Crosspolymer, carbomer, ceteth-10, sodium hydroxide, BHT, methylparaben

Read more about sunscreen ingredients and FDA approval here.
1430611186762What I also like about this sunscreen is that it does not sting my eyes at all, which both the Hada Labo UV Creamy Gel and Missha Mild Essence Sun Milk did. It is also easier to apply a lot of this particular sunscreen than any other sunscreen I’ve used. Why is this important? The testing protocol for SPF specifies a certain amount of sunscreen be applied to the surface area, which is a lot more than what people usually apply. There’s some pretty substantial backstory to that statement, which I will definitely cover in my later post about sunscreen, but for now, consider that according to the American Academy of Dermatology, most people only apply 25-50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen.

Even though I love this sunscreen enough to have used it almost exclusively for about 2 years now, there are two very nit-picky areas of improvement. First, it’s not the fastest absorbing sunscreen. It’s certainly not slow, but one of the Biore sunscreens I’ve used previously (Biore UV Perfect Face Milk) sank in in what felt like half the time. I estimate the speed it takes to absorb so that my face doesn’t feel wet is about 40 seconds, vs 20 seconds for the Biore. This is not a huge difference, but I am almost always running late in the mornings and sometimes 20 seconds feels like it can make a difference. Also, if you’re sensitive to alcohol, this may not be the best sunscreen for you. There is a faint smell of alcohol to the product. I used to be somewhat alarmed by it when I first started using this product (and before I knew anything about alcohol) but honestly I don’t even notice it anymore. Also, I do wish this sunscreen had more PA protection. PA+++ is pretty good, but PA++++ is better.

So yeah, I love this sunscreen. This product, along with the Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Lotion were my two gateway Asian Beauty products. This was also the product that made me think wearing sunscreen was something I would actually be able to do. Also, I ended up using this sunscreen on a camping trip to the Anza Borrego desert some time last year. I know this is not a sport sunscreen but I really didn’t want to use my friend’s Neutrogena ultra sheer sunscreen so I used this instead, reapplying every hour we were hiking (because this is not sweat resistant at all) but emerged from the desert without any sun burns and, so far as I can tell, without having gotten any darker. I definitely don’t recommend anyone take this sunscreen to the desert because, again, this is not a sweat-resistant sunscreen, but I’ve derived a lot of confidence in this product from that experience.

Final thoughts: If you’re a mostly indoors person looking for an easy to use, unobtrusive, cosmetically elegant, everyday sunscreen, I cannot recommend this one enough. It’s also very affordable and cheaper (by ml) than most competitors.

To see other sunscreens I’ve reviewed, see here.

Texture 5/5
Effectiveness 5/5
Fragrance 5/5
Price 5/5
Repurchase? Yes

Rakuten (1, 2, 3) is the most affordable place to buy this, so long as you manage shipping costs down. Alternatively, it’s also available on Amazon (non-pump version) with prime shipping.

13 thoughts on “Nivea Sun Protect Aqua Gel SPF 50 PA+++ Sunscreen Review

    • V. Rex says:

      Same brand! Their products are different in Asia (and Europe) though, like even their signature creme (in the blue tin) is a slightly different formula. It’s a shame they don’t really seem to have an interest in the sunscreen market in the states.


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