It's very gloomy outside today, which seems like an odd time to review sunscreen--but I wear it every day, since UV rays easily pass through clouds. I have no problem doing certain things that are supposed to be "bad" for my skin in terms of aging, like sleeping (partially) face down or rubbing my eyes, but I got into the habit of wearing sunscreen on my face and neck on a daily basis in my early 20s, so it's become routine by now.
For the past few years, my favorite facial sunscreen has been Kinesys Alcohol-free SPF 30, which I reviewed here. I still like it a lot, and you can read why in that review, but to summarize, these are the things I look for in a good sunscreen: SPF 30 or higher, doesn't cause breakouts, doesn't burn or sting even around my eyes, doesn't smear or feel greasy, and doesn't cause any problems when applied over skincare products or under makeup.
In early August, I was running out of my Kinesys sunscreen, but I was also in between jobs and wanted to try something a little less expensive. I'd seen a recommendation for the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel SPF 50+ PA++++ somewhere or other, and since it was only about $8 on Amazon, I decided to give it a shot. Luckily, I wasn't completely out of my old sunscreen, because it took about 3 weeks for the Biore sunscreen to be delivered, since it shipped from Japan. But it came with a cute cat sticker, so the wait was worth it, clearly.
I've been using this stuff since September, and I really like it. You can read the ingredients list here, but I'll point out three things: it contains both chemical and mineral sunscreen ingredients; alcohol is the third ingredient in the list; and it is scented with citrus essential oils. If you prefer to avoid alcohol and fragrance, then you might not like this. (That used to be me, by the way, but I've become less militant about these things over time.) It has a sugared orange scent that lasts for a few minutes after application. I'm often annoyed by fragrances in skincare and base makeup, but this particular scent doesn't bother me--though my cat hates it, for whatever that's worth.
Unlike most sunscreens I've used (which have been from Western brands), this stuff is not greasy at all--it feels, as the name would suggest, watery. It's thin and, because the alcohol evaporates quickly and leaves you with a smooth, dry finish, you have to apply it quickly. I am used to having lots of time to spread sunscreen around my face sunscreen because of how slippery it is, but this fluid works differently, so I had to adapt my method a bit. Here's how it looks, milky and runny:
That's about how much I typically use on my face, though sometimes I add a bit more to be sure the skin around my eyes and other vulnerable places is sufficiently covered. It might not be quite the 1/4 teaspoon that's recommended, but since it's SPF 50, I still feel like I am getting decent protection. (This recent post from Lab Muffin explains how you can get more protection even if you use less of a higher SPF, which sounds like common sense, but hadn't been thought to be the case until recently.)
Even though it contains fragrance, alcohol, and chemical sunscreen, I haven't experienced any burning or stinging. The thin consistency and dry finish means that it works well under makeup. (I've read reviews that say it doesn't, but I've tried all sorts of liquid, cream, and powder products over it without any problems.) In fact, it has a bit of a mattifying effect and some oil control properties--again, probably because there is so much alcohol in it. This effect is a welcome one for my oily-combination skin, but I can imagine that it might not be ideal for dry skin. I haven't experienced any excessive dryness, however.
I'm a fan, and I'm considering replacing this when it runs out instead of buying the Kinesys spray again, though I'm curious to see how long the bottle lasts me (I usually get almost a year out of the Kinesys) and how it feels in the winter when my skin is drier.
If you're interested in the Biore Watery Gel, I think it would work best for normal to oily skin. If you're not comfortable with a lot of alcohol or fragrance, then you should probably skip it. The Kinesys sunscreen I was using before doesn't contain either of those things.
Do you use an Asian sunscreen? Are there others you would recommend I try when this one runs out?