Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel and Essence Sunscreen Review and Comparison

UPDATE: To see a review and comparison of the 2017 Biore Aqua Rich Watery Gel and Essence, see here.

I’m posting about these two sunscreens together because they’re almost identically named. Despite that, they’re actually quite different but both very excellent.


Gel and essence, side by side. Pardon the awful state of my nails.

 The Watery Gel comes in a bottle containing 90ml of sunscreen with a spout on top. The Watery Essence comes in a tube, containing 50ml of sunscreen with the spout at the bottom. Not accounting for shipping costs, I paid ¥679, or around $5.70 for each. This comes out to $.06 per ml for the gel and $.11 per ml for the essence.

 The textures of these two sunscreens are fairly different. The gel is very watery whereas the essence has still watery but also creamy texture. Both smell vaguely of citrus, which is strange but so faint it’s hardly worth mentioning.

Notice the tiny white specs in the top photo.

This is the gel. Notice the tiny white specs in the top photo.

Out of the bottle, the gel initially has little flecks / clumps of white in it. This concerned me at first, but those concerns were entirely unfounded as the clumps entirely dissolve with even the most minimal of rubbing.

Collage 2015-05-13 20_10_28

Gel on left, essence on the right. The essence comes out of the bottle looking like a light, creamy moisturizer (top photo) but gives way to a watery, very spreadable consistency.

 Comparison of the two creams on my arm in the photo above.

 The ingredients are below, side by side, with acne triggers and irritants per cosdna noted:

biore uv aqua rich gel and essence

Read more about sunscreen ingredients and FDA approval here.

The essence is 100% chemical whereas the gel also contains titanium dioxide, so it seems to use a combination of chemical and physical UV blockers.

These two sunscreens are both outstanding. The essence feels like a more luxurious product, just because the texture is so beautifully creamy (even though it’s quite watery) when it comes out of the tube. It does not feel like a sunscreen product, which I think is a huge part of its appeal. The gel feels more like a sunscreen to me, probably because the consistency is more similar to that of the Nivea Sun Protect Aqua Gel that I’ve been using for years, but I actually prefer the gel over the essence in terms of texture. The extra watery-ness allows for VERY FAST application. It also absorbs quickly and fully, definitely outperforming the essence. If you apply a small amount of the essence, it seems to absorb instantaneously. However, I am very heavy handed when applying sunscreen (especially now that I’m using acids to exfoliate) and find that when using the recommended 1/4 of a teaspoon of sunscreen for my face (not including neck or ears), the essence does not seem to fully absorb. It does not make my face shiny, nor does it feel heavy on my face, but if I touch my face, there’s definitely a layer of product sitting on top of my skin. I do not have the same problem with the gel. The gel is a little bit shinier immediately after application (probably due to the titanium dioxide), but the shine goes away quickly and afterwards, I can’t even tell I’m wearing sunscreen.

Final thoughts: Overall, two very excellent sunscreens. Both offer excellent UVA and UVB protection without any sort of white cast or shininess. I prefer the gel to the essence because I find it to applies easier and absorbs more fully. It’s also cheaper, which is an added plus!

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

Gel Essence
Ease of Application 5/5 4/5
Absorbability 5/5 4/5
Fragrance 3/5 3/5
Price 5/5 4/5
Repurchase? Oh yeah! No

I purchased through Rakuten (gel, essence). Both are also available on amazon (gel, essence).

21 thoughts on “Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel and Essence Sunscreen Review and Comparison

  1. Auntie Snail says:

    All right, you’ve made up my mind. I thought the essence would be my ride or die for life, but I’ll give the gel a shot. I like my sunscreen to dry as fast and as thoroughly as physically possible


  2. Allison says:

    Ooh thanks for the comparison! My aunt’s heading to Japan in a couple of weeks, and I couldn’t quite decide whether to ask her to buy more Nivea Sun Protect Aqua Gel (it’s soooo convenient in a pump!!) or more Biore!! I saw the new gel out here on ‘sale’ at USD$15 here and I was like… no -_-

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mavis Ngui says:

    I love this! On my third tube of the Watery Gel. I find that while I love the instant absorption, it can be a tad drying – due to the alcohol i suppose – but I make up for that with more hydration in my other steps. Would you say that the essence is less drying?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Miryuki says:

    Hey! love your detailed reviews ❤ I am looking for a sunscreen badly and was just wondering, among the three sunscreen gels that you had reviewed, which one do you think would most suit my oily, sensitive and acne prone skin? Just need a suggestion 😀 Been stuck on which sunscreen to buy for so long :<

    Liked by 1 person

    • V. Rex says:

      Hmm, good question! My skin is dry and not usually sensitive so keep that in mind, but I think the Nivea sun protect water gel might be best. A few reasons:
      1.) It is the easiest for me to reapply, which I think indicates it leaves the least amount of residue (if any), which considering your skin is oily and acne prone is probably a good thing!
      2.) The Biore sunscreens contain a few extracts that may be problematic for acne-prone skin and sensitive skin, including lemon, grapefruit, and orange extracts.

      The downside is you get less UVA protection (Biores are PA++++ whereas Nivea is PA+++) but PA+++ is still very good!


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