Here is my assortment of empties this month from left to right:
It’s the start of a new months so it’s time for another (really long) empties post! Is anyone else upset about how quickly summer is slipping away?
Items I Used Up
Let’s Cure Pure Skin Basic Skin Exfoliator – Will Repurchase
Full review here. This is a simple but functional pH adjusting toner with just enough hydrating properties to make my skin feel normal again after cleansing. I purchased the CosRX AHA/BHA toner as a replacement because I was curious about it, but I’m missing the Let’s Cure one already.
Purchased through Avecko. It is also available on Memebox. Continue reading
For 9 months out of the year, I’m perfectly content repurchasing my favorite everyday-use sunscreens (Biore Watery Gel and Canmake Mermaid Skin Gel UV), but in preparation for summer, I’ve been on the hunt for something a little more sweat-proof. Most recently, I picked up the 50 Megumi Morning UV Protection Cream, which I didn’t like at all (and isn’t even sweat resistant anyways), and the Skin Aqua Super Moisture Gel, which I do like very much and will be talking about today!
AT A GLANCE
SPF and PA Rating?
SPF50+ PA++++, which is the highest UVB and UVA rating achieveable in Japan.
I’m sure you all are super excited to be reading about sunscreen IN DECEMBER. Don’t worry, this is going to be a quick review because this sunscreen is not very exciting. But also don’t forget that UVA rays, which are responsible for the photo-aging of skin, are not affected by season. This means they’re still plentiful this time of year so if you wear sunscreen for anti-aging purposes, you’ll want to keep using them in the winter!
Packaging & Appearance
This sunscreen comes in a 120ml squeeze bottle. I love the bottle. It’s large and easy to use. The sunscreen is a dense but runny liquid that has a very slight cool tint to it. I think the tint is intended to help with redness, which I have a lot of, but on the skin it is completely sheer.
On the skin, this sunscreen spreads and absorbs easily and does not leave a white cast. Because it is denser than, let’s say, Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel, it does take a little longer for this sunscreen to absorb.
In addition to providing sun protection, this sunscreen is supposed to preserve moisture, control sebum and sweat, and serve as a makeup primer. I can’t really speak to its sebum and sweat controlling powers because I have dry skin and don’t wear this in sweaty situations (I can’t figure out if this is sweat-resistant or not so to be safe I assume it’s not) but it’s not very good at the other two functions.
My skin is too dry to rely on sunscreens for moisture or hydration, but of the sunscreens I’ve used this is not a particularly hydrating one. In fact, I find the alcohol-laden Biore sunscreens to both be more hydrating than this one.
This brings us to the claim that this sunscreen works well under makeup. It’s feasible that it works beautifully with Chosungah’s makeup, which I have not used, but under the makeup that I use, this sunscreen is a nightmare. It works well under the Laneige BB Cushion so long as I do not touch my face at all. If I so much as try to brush some hair out of my face, my sunscreen and make up will immediately start to flake off in unflattering globs. With the Innisfree Mineral Moisture foundation that I use, the situation is even more annoying. I literally cannot get the foundation to apply smoothly on top of this sunscreen. This is a very spreadable and densely pigmented foundation, mind you, yet somehow with this sunscreen on the foundation ends up looking patchy upon application. As a result, I’ve been reserving this sunscreen to use only on days when I don’t need to wear makeup, which is not very common.
If you don’t wear makeup, this sunscreen is not a bad option. The bottle holds a generous 120ml of product, which might be the largest Asian sunscreen product I’ve come across (most of my sunscreens are 30ml or 50ml). There is no mint fragrance, despite its name. It kind of just smells mildly like sunscreen. Also, this sunscreen does have the tendency to sting my eyes, not as badly as Hada Labo’s UV Creamy Gel does, but bad enough that I wouldn’t repurchase, even if everything else about it was perfect.
The ingredients are as follows. Cosdna analysis is here.
Water, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Diethylhexyl Carbonate, Phenylbenzimidazole Sulfonic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Silica, Methoxy PEG/PPG-25/4 Dimethicone, Bis-PEG/PPG-20/5 PEG/PPG-20/5 Dimethicone, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Extract, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Leaf Extract, Syringa Vulgaris (Lilac) Extract, Houttuynia Cordata Extract, Angelica Keiskei Extract, Althaea Officinalis Root Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Alchemillia Vulgaris Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Extract, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Primula Veris Extract, Veronica Officinalis Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Artemisia Absinthium Extract, Gentiana Lutea Root Extract, Adipic Acid/Neopentyl Glycol Crosspolymer, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Polyacrylate Cross-polymer-6, VP/VA Copolymer, Cellulose Gum, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Cyclohexasiloxane, Dimethicone, Nylon-12, Polyacrylate-13, C12-14 Pareth-7, Sodium Benzoate, Polyisobutene, Potassium Sorbate, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Sorbitan Isostearate, Polysorbate 20, Amodimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Acid Blue 9, Fragrance
If you don’t wear makeup, this is a decent, economical (if you get it off of KD) sunscreen. If you do wear makeup, be forewarned that this stuff pills like crazy.
Disclosure: This product was purchased by me. An affiliate link is used. You can see my full disclosure policy here.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve reviewed quite a few sunscreens on this platform yet none of them have been mineral sunscreens (if you’re unfamiliar with the term, these are sunscreens that predominantly use physical filters such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide). I just don’t like mineral sunscreens! I don’t like the difficulty in applying them, the white casts they leave, or the metallic smell that they frequently leave behind.
You may be wondering why I bought this sunscreen then. It’s because it includes a Burmese cosmetic ingredient made from ground up tree bark called THANAKHA!
Thanakha is scantly used in Korean cosmetics- The Saem makes a few products that contain Thanakha, but other than that, you’d be hard pressed to find it in many products. However, according to a 2014 article in the NYTimes, it’s been used as a wrinkle-preventing, sun damage fighting, acne clearing cure-all in Myanmar for years. Back in 2014, I barely got through the first two paragraphs of this article before I started searching around online for anything with thanakha on it, only to find it unavailable except in powder form. I like my cosmetics in ready-to-use form, so I forgot all about thanakha and its super powers until this sunscreen popped up on Wishtrend, boasting about it’s inclusion of thanakha.
I threw it in my cart and had purchased it before realizing I could get at least 3 bottles of Biore Aqua Rich Watery Gel, my favorite sunscreen, for one bottle of this sunscreen. That’s the first reason for not buying this sunscreen. There are more to come. Buckle in.
Appearance and Packaging
Chica y Chico doesn’t make very exciting packaging, does it? This sunscreen comes in a white and yellow 50ml plastic, rectangular bottle.
Out of the tube, this sunscreen is white in color and has a light, lotion like texture. It is not sticky at all and dries matte on the skin.
Picture #3 below shows the sunscreen on my wrist immediately after application. Picture #4 was taken 20 minutes later. As you can see, this sunscreen leaves a white cast, although the cast is not as bad as some other physical sunscreens I’ve used. If you are very pale, the cast is likely not to be very noticeable. For reference, I am currently a NC25-NC30 in MAC foundations and the white cast is problematic mostly because it makes my skin-tone look grey. However, it’s easy enough to cover up with makeup.
The instructions on the box state in bold and all caps to shake lightly before use. This is very important as this sunscreen has the tendency to separate, kind of like how ketchup starts to separate, if you let it sit for too long.
Other than the white cast, the biggest challenge I ran into with this sunscreen is that it is extremely drying on my skin. After a day of wearing it, my skin feels totally parched, regardless of how many moisturizing products I put on before this sunscreen. In fact, the only times I would use this sunscreen is when I’m going running or playing tennis outdoors on a hot day and I know I’ll be sweating a lot. Even then, I do my best to remove this sunscreen immediately afterwards.
Also, I think this sunscreen is a good example of how it is difficult to judge products solely by their ingredients. This sunscreen contains:
Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Zinc Oxide, Cyclohexasiloxane, Titanium Dioxide, Dimethicone, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Glycerin, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange Oil), Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Cedrus Atlantica Bark Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Limonia Acidissima Extract, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Oil, Mrytus Communis Oil, Artemisia Absinthium Extract, Rose Flower Water, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract, Ferula Galbaniflua (Galbanum) Resin Oil, Aluminum Hydroxide, Butylene Glycol, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Dimethicone/Methicone Copolymer, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Caprylate, Caprylyl Glycol, Copaifera Officinalis (Balsam Copaiba) Resin, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol
There are a generous amounts of fruit and flower extracts and oils in this sunscreen. Yet, you would never be able to tell from the product itself. It doesn’t smell like any of those flowers or fruits and it certainly doesn’t have any of the hydrating properties that those oils should have.
Also, there are two ingredients bolded in the list above. The second one is Limonia Acidissima Extract, which is the thanakha. The first bolded ingredient is Cedrus Atlantica Bark Oil. While trying to figure out which ingredient was thanakha, I checked this one first. It is not thanakha but is a tree native to the Atlas Mountains. You guys, the Cedrus Atlantica tree is an endangered species. Why the hell is Chica y Chico formulating products with an endangered tree?
Even if this oil was sourced in an environmentally responsible way, there are NINE other oils on this list. The inclusion from this oil seems to achieve very little other than beefing up an ingredient list by a marginal amount. I’m sure the pressure on Korean cosmetic companies to include the most novel, exotic, and exciting ingredients is huge, but there have to be some boundaries, right?
Recommended for: Pale skinned people with oily skin in need of a sunscreen to wear in high-sweat conditions.
Not recommended for: Dry and normal skin types. Darker skin tones. Anyone who takes issue with endangered trees being used in their skincare products.
No dino rating scale this time. Just this disappointed turtle:
To see other sunscreens I’ve reviewed, see here.
Sometimes, skincare requires tradeoffs. For example, despite my having dry skin, pretty much all the sunscreens I use smell like rubbing alcohol due to their high alcohol content. This type of alcohol may be drying but it also allows the sunscreens to absorb with fantastic speed and I just don’t have enough free time in the mornings to deal with slow drying sunscreens.
And so the fact that I’ve been using this particular alcohol-free UV gel in the mornings regularly is a testament in itself to how great it is. On days when my skin feels particularly dry, I even find myself reaching for this sunscreen over my beloved Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel!
Appearance and Packaging
This sunscreen comes in a shiny silver tube bedazzled with images of shells, starfish, coral and other ocean things. Canmake packaging can sometimes look like little-girl-toy-makeup, but I actually really like what they did with the design of this sunscreen!
The tube is smaller than I’m used to – each tube comes with 40ml of product. For comparison, Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence and Sunkiller Perfect Watery Essence, which come in similar tube formats, come with 50ml.
Even though this sunscreen is dubbed a gel, from my experience it is more similar in texture to Japanese essence-type sunscreens. Essence type sunscreens usually have a buttery-yet-light creamy texture (which this sunscreen has) whereas gel-type sunscreens tend to be more fluid. This Canmake sunscreen is indeed watery, but it is nowhere near as runny as the gels that I have used.
**If you’re curious about sunscreen ratings, safety, FDA approvals, ingredients, or the reason Asian sunscreens (Japanese in particular) are so much better than the ones available in the US, see here and here**
This sunscreen is appropriate for every day usage. It is not water, sweat, or sebum resistant so if you are planning on doing strenuous physical activity of spending an extended amount of time outdoors, you may want to find another sunscreen.
The texture of this sunscreen is awesome! Out of the tube, the sunscreen has a very luxurious texture. With even the smallest amount of patting, the creamy texture gives way to a watery substance that is easy to apply and extremely moisturizing. This sunscreen does take longer to dry due to the lack of alcohol, but is not as slow as some other alcohol-free sunscreens, and fortunately there is no stickiness at all. It is also one of the better makeup-primer sunscreens that I’ve used. I am very generous with my sunscreen application and sometimes run into issues with the sunscreen pilling when I apply makeover over it, but I have not yet run into issues with this sunscreen.
This sunscreen does not ever feel heavy. It does make my face a little shiny, but in a dewy sort of way and not a socially-inapprorpiate sort of way. Over time, this shine fades and if you wear makeup, it shouldn’t be an issue at all.
The ingredients of this sunscreen are as follows. Sunscreen filters are underlined.
Water, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (aka Octinoxate) , butylene glycol, diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl benzoate (aka Uvinal A Plus), zinc oxide, methylheptyl ester of lauric acid, titanium dioxide, dimethicone, bis ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine (aka Tinosorb S), polymethylsilsesquioxane, cyclopentasiloxane, sodium hydroxyethyl acrylate / acryloyldimethyl taurate copolymer diisostearyl malate, hydroxide Al, PEG-60 hydrogenated castor oil, stearic acid, phenoxyethanol, polyglyceryl-3 polydimethylsiloxiethyl dimethicone, polyhydroxystearyl acid, jojoba ester, xanthan gum, arginine, hyaluronic acid, alpha-glucan, phytic acid, saxifraga sarmentosa extract, glucosylceramide, cherry leaf extract, job’s tears seed extract, morus alba root extract, onethera biennis seed extract, silver oxide, Queen of the Meadow flower extract, bilberry leaf extract, artichoke leaf extract
I always try to ensure that the sunscreen filters will protect against UVA rays. Luckily, this sunscreen includes zinc oxide and Tinosorb S which cover the entire UVA spectrum!
Moisturizing, very cosmetically elegant sunscreen. My only real gripe with it is that it takes a long time to dry, but that’s pretty much unavoidable without alcohol in the formula.
Anna over at My Asian Skincare Story (which has TONS of great sunscreen reviews) was kind enough to ship this to me from Japan. It is also available on Rakuten (through forwarding service only) or eBay.
To see other sunscreens I’ve reviewed, see here.
Disclosure: Product paid for by me. Affiliate links. See my full disclosure policy here.
This is the last sunscreen to be reviewed from my first Rakuten haul and the one I’m most conflicted about. This review is LONG overdue, but better late than never, right?
Sunkiller makes a lot of sunscreens, some of them are apparently very good, but this is the only one that I’ve tried. This is an essence type sunscreen, which means it has a creamy, mousse-like texture, much like the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence. Also, this is a sebum-resistant sunscreen, which is pretty handy for summer months or year-round for those of you with oilier skin types.
WHERE I BOUGHT IT
PACKAGING AND APPEARANCE
This sunscreen comes in a flat, blue tube.
The design of the tube is pretty, but its no my favorite sunscreen packaging. The spout from which sunscreen is dispensed is very small and does not dispense a whole lot of sunscreen at once. This is obviously not a huge deal, but in the mornings when I am frequently short on time, the extra few seconds it takes to use this sunscreen can be exasperating. That said, this type of packaging is great for portability because it is made of a sturdy plastic material that can take a lot of abuse (i.e. you don’t need to worry about spillage) and doesn’t take up a lot of room.
I did not love this sunscreen at first but over time it’s grown on me. The texture is similar to that of the Biore Watery Essence – it is creamy but lightweight, buttery but watery and easy to spread.
The reason I didn’t like this sunscreen very much at first is it doesn’t absorb as well as sunscreens I am used to. I take a heavy hand to sunscreen application to ensure I apply the full 1/4 oz needed for my face. My suspicion is this sunscreen was formulated assuming its users would not be applying so much sunscreen because it is very slow and problematic to absorb at that quantity (read more about sunscreen and required application here), as demonstrated above on my hand. The layer of sunscreen is just too thick and and I am left with a glossy layer of sunscreen on my face.
The remedy I’ve found to this problem is to split the application into two phases. I apply half the amount of sunscreen I need to on my face, pat it in and wait for it to absorb (which it does much better in smaller quantities), then I repeat. This takes more time (definitely a negative), but when I do this, the sunscreen absorbs really well. However, it still leaves a bit of a film and makes my skin tacky to the touch.
Strangely this film works well when I wear makeup. I have a lot of difficulty with makeup becoming flakey, on account of my dry skin, by mid-day. This sunscreen does not prolong the life of my makeup but it does seem to help keep the flakiness away! However, if I wear this sunscreen without makeup, it makes my face distinctively shiny, and not in a flattering, dewy way.
The ingredients for this sunscreen, taken from the Master of Life product page with USAN sunscreen names added, are as follows. The cosdna analysis identifies three acne triggers- tocopherol, stearic acid, and sorbitan oleate– and one irritant – tocopherol.
Water, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (aka octinoxate), ethanol, diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate (aka Uvinul A Plus), pentylene glycol, tocopherol, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, hesperidin, sodium acetyl hyaluronic acid, hyaluronic acid, hyaluronic acid hydrolysis, isononyl isononanoate, bis ethylhexyl methoxyphenyl triazine (aka Tinosorb S), sodium acrylic acid / sodium acryloyldimethyltaurate copolymer, titanium oxide, isohexadecane, aluminum octenylsuccinate starch, ethylhexyl glycerin, polysorbate 80, dilauroyl glutamate lysine Na, hydroxide Al, stearic acid, xanthan gum, phenoxyethanol, sorbitan oleate, perfumes, ammonium acryloyldimethyltaurate / VP copolymers, BHT, t- butanol, methyl paraben
COMPARISON WITH OTHER SUNSCREENS**
Now that all the sunscreens from my Rakuten haul have been published, I thought I would summarize my personal thoughts and preference on them.
- LOVE: Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel is my clear favorite. It’s the only one I’ve reordered for use on my face. I like the thin watery texture of the gel over the creamier texture of essences and find it easier to apply and, if need be, to reapply. It does smell a bit like alcohol, but the alcohol does not seem to irritate or dry out my skin.
- LOVE: Mommy UV Mild Gel and Nivea Sun Protect Aqua Gel have been relegated to use on my body, for the most part. The reason behind this is simple: the UVA rating is only PA+++ and for my face, I want nothing but the highest rating of PA++++. (Side note: Korean sunscreens only go up to PA+++ rating so different criteria applies there). Between the two, I prefer the Nivea gel because Mommy, which is alcohol-free, takes substantially longer to dry. That said, Nivea smells more like alcohol than any of the other sunscreens I’ve used. Again, this doesn’t bother me or affect my skin, but if you are sensitive to alcohol it’s one you may want to avoid. I’ve repurchased both of these sunscreens.
- PASS: Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence and Sunkiller Perfect Water Essence are both great sunscreens that work well under makeup. I know the Biore Essence has its fans, but I’ve had issues with it pilling when I try to reapply. Between the two, I think I actually prefer Sunkiller because it works marginally better under my makeup, but I don’t have plans to repurchase either. On a related note, I am currently testing out another essence type sunscreen that I like better than both the Biore and Sunkiller essence. Review coming soon!
- PASS: Menturm Sun Bears Strong Super Plus is the only sports sunscreen I’ve tried. I’ve worn this while working out and while swimming, and, if the white cast is any indication, has stellar staying power. However, the white cast looks very obvious, especially if I take this swimming, which makes it not ideal. I’m definitely still on the hunt for a good sport / water-resistant sunscreen so if you have any suggestions, send them my way!
This is a creamy, essence type sunscreen that is super lightweight. It is great for wearing under makeup but may be problematic when used alone because it leaves a thin film and tacky feeling on the skin.
Pros: lightweight, creamy texture, great for use under makeup
Cons: leaves a bit of a film
To see other sunscreens I’ve reviewed, see here.
**Lastly, I want to take some time to put things in perspective. All the sunscreens I mention above are excellent sunscreens, many years ahead of any sunscreen I’ve come across from the US or Europe. I sometimes forget how lucky I am to have access to these sunscreens and lose sight of the fact that the baseline level of cosmetic elegance of Japanese sunscreens is so high. My point is, Sunkiller is a great sunscreen, Biore Watery essence is a great sunscreen, and Sun Bears is a great sunscreen, despite my decision not to repurchase them. The complaints I’ve lobbied against them are, at the end of the day, very minor issues and you can’t go wrong with any of them! If you haven’t yet given Japanese sunscreens a try, I highly recommend it!
WHY I BOUGHT THEM
When I moved to LA 3 years ago from SF, I promised myself I would learn to surf. That hasn’t happened yet because LA beaches are gross), but I do go to the beach not infrequently to do things like rollerblade and play beach volleyball. However, being the good skincare nut that I am, I worry constantly about UV exposure. None of the sunscreens I use for day-to-day wear are sweat or water resistant, so finding a sports sunscreen is essential. Skinceuticals Sport UV Defense has been my go-to sunscreen for some time, however, as it will become abundantly clear soon, it leaves a lot to be desired. Sun Bears Super Strong Plus is the first Japanese sunscreen candidate I’ve chosen for replacing it!
WHERE I BOUGHT THEM
This is a continuation of the Sunscreen 101 Series.
In Pt 2 (this post):
Why you should trust the FDA when they deem an ingredient safe
Overview of FDA approved UV filters
Should you use non-FDA approved filters?
Overview of non-FDA approved UV filters
Here, we are going to cover UV filters (sunscreen ingredients) that are approved by the FDA and not approved by the FDA. Before we get into that though, let’s chat a bit about the FDA.