Beauty, Skin Care, Sunscreen

Afraid of premature aging? Keep your skin youthful, smooth and beautiful. SPF is the answer. The Best Japanese Sunscreen – Biore Aqua Rich Watery Essence/ Nivea Super Water Gel/ Hada Labo UV White Gel

Sorry this is late going live. I had planned for it to go live yesterday (Saturday) however I was looking after my niece over the weekend, I had visitors (a friend has just had a baby) and this blog ended up being way longer, way more in depth and way more complicated to research than I had ever thought. UVB/A filters are confusing. Advice online is very contradictory. I have tried to use credible sources such as highly regarded scientific blogs, research publications and science related websites and even they can’t agree on the efficacy of filters. Credit to blogs like LabMuffin. I will never even understand how you manage to comprehend science. Products marked with a * contain affiliate links.

Beware of fragrance. Only in Biore! Why Biore, why??
Blue is UV Filter / Red is Alcohol / Bold is in all three / Green is good (Bg and Isonate should be green and Fragrance should be red)
I haven’t went through all the ingredients to determine potential irritants like I have done in the past, there was just too many! This will have to be a job for cosdna, skincarisma or incicoder.

[Biore Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+ PA++++]

Water, ethanol, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, ethylhexyl triazone, isopropyl palmitate, (lauryl methacrylate / Na methacrylate) crosspolymer, diethylaminohydroxybenzoylhexylbenzoate, hydrogenated polyisobutene, bisethylhexyl oxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine, palmitic acid Dextrin, BG, xylitol, (acrylate / alkyl acrylate (C10-30)) crosspolymer, dimethicone, alkyl benzoate (C12-15), glycerin, glyceryl stearate, propanediol, glyceryl behenate, (vinyl dimethicone / methicone Silsesquioxane) crosspolymer, cetanol, agar, sorbitan distearate, isoceteth-20, polyvinyl alcohol, (dimethicone / vinyl dimethicone) Suporima, stearoyl glutamate, arginine, hydroxide K, hydroxide Na, royal jelly extract, hyaluronic acid Na, phenoxyethanol, EDTA-2Na, BHT, perfume

Ingredients: 37 ingredients. 4 UVB/A Filters. 8 other potentially good ingredients. 1 well known potential irritant and the rest are fillers and texture enhancers etc. FYI, the first 5 ingredients, roughly (some say 7, some say 10) make up the bulk of the product. Roughly the top 5 will be making up 80-90% of the product so you would really like to see beneficial ingredients in the top half (some exceptions such as peptides work in low concentrations). This product also has the most ingredients in it of the three, 37 in total and unfortunately the majority of the ingredients are fillers and don’t provide benefit to the skin. Alcohol as number 2 ingredient and it has fragrance at number 37. Fragrance is the last ingredient but it is there none the less, it isn’t needed and it’s a potential irritant. If alcohol and fragrance are triggers for you or you don’t like using them in your skincare, this isn’t for you.

The filters: It’s rated SPF 50+ PA++++. 4 pretty good chemical filters making this a broad spectrum SPF protecting against UVB and A rays. Oxitinoxate (UVB, efficient filter but requires other UVB filter to cover all UVB range and to be stablised), Uvinal T 150 (UVB, very good filter), Uvinal A Plus (UVA1+2, very good filter) and Tinasorb S (UVB, UVA1+2, very good filter). It has 3 filters protecting against UVB, 2 filters protecting against UVA1 and 2 filters protecting against UVA2. This is a broad spectrum sunscreen proving highest protection against UVA and UVB rays!

Application and Experience: This is a good broad spectrum product and I have had no issues using it. It applies like a smooth silky lightweight water cream gel. It goes on like a dream and leaves my skin soft and silky. It goes on under make up well with no streaking, pilling, drying. It does have ethanol high up however ethanol is required to gain the elegant consistency Japanese sunscreens have. If a product has ethanol high up, it is best to look for hydrating and protective ingredients to counter act the drying effects of the alcohol. This has a few beneficial ingredients however I use humectants and anti oxidants else where in my routine so my main focus is no fragrance and how it applies. I love it. I really do. If it didn’t have fragrance, it would be the one. I’m really mad at Biore right now. Despite the fragrance and alcohol, it hasn’t caused any reaction or stinging to the skin and eyes. My skin feels soft and hydrated.

Smell: It has a noticeable alcohol smell in the bottle but it doesn’t transfer to skin.

Price: I bought Biore from Ebay on 30th April. It cost £9.49 for 50g. By the 18th of June it hadn’t arrived. I complained and it arrived by the end of June. 2 months to arrive. Not a plus for me. £1.90 per 10g based on the price I paid. You can buy it on yesstyle or buy it on Amazon here. *

Packaging: It comes in a soft sensory pleasing to touch wide plastic tube which makes it easy for all the product to be squeezed out. I can’t complain about the packing. I like airless pump bottles but this is easy to carry around and reapply.

[Nivea Sun Super Water Gel SPF50+ PA+++]

First application

Water, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Alcohol, Propylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Ethylhexyl Triazone, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Dilauramidoglutamide Lysine, Pyrus Cydonia Seed Extract, Geranium Robertianum Extract, Phellodendron Amurense Bark Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Carbomer, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Hydroxide, BHT, Methylparaben

The ingredients: 19 ingredients. 3 UVB/A chemical filters. 8 other potentially good ingredients. 1 well known potential irritant and the rest are fillers and texture enhancers etc. It does have a humectant in the top 5 so that is a good start. This product has the least ingredients but the same amount of beneficial ingredients as the others with a couple of anti oxidants in there. Alcohol is the number 3 ingredient on the list and it has no fragrance. If alcohol is a trigger for you or you avoid it in skincare, then this isn’t the one for you.

The Filters: Nivea is rated SPF50+ PA+++ so it has one less + than Biore. It has 3 of the same chemical filters as Biore. Oxtinoxate (UVB, efficient filter but requires other UVB filters along side it), Uvinal T 150 (UVB, very good filter) and Uvinal A Plus (UVA1+2, very good filter). Unlike the Biore, Nivea doesn’t have the added Tinasorb S filter which protects more effectively against UVB and A rays. It has 2 filters protecting against UVB and 1 filter protecting against UVA1+2 making it a broad spectrum sunscreen however it isn’t the most efficacious product in my opinion and I would have liked another good UVA filter in there at least. It is PA+++ so it isn’t providing the highest level of protection.

Application and Experience: I am using this one alongside Biore at the moment with no reactions from either. It goes on exactly like the Biore, lightweight and creamy however I feel the texture of the Nivea is slightly more lightweight and I prefer the Nivea texture the most out of the three. There really isn’t much in it at all comparatively between Biore and Nivea however. It goes on lovely. Sits perfect on the skin and doesn’t interact badly with other skincare. I can put make up on top and the make up goes on smoothly. It doesn’t sting or cause any irritation to the skin or eyes. My skin feels soft and supple and hydrated. If this product had another good UVA filter in it, it would be the one for me.

Smell: It has a very mild almost undetectable smell. I had to open the bottle and really go searching for the smell to find it.

Price: I bought Nivea from Amazon for £9.96 for 140g. I ordered it on June 28th and it arrived within a week or so. The same buyer is selling Nivea for £9.28 now and a 125g refill can be bought for £7.77. Roughly 72p per 10g or 65p per 10g with the refill price. It is less than a third of the price of Biore with the refill price. You can buy it on Amazon here. *

Packaging: I love the packaging. It comes in a sturdy plastic bump bottle! Yes, a pump bottle! What a novelty. It makes application so much easier and economical. You’re not going to beat a pump bottle, unless its an airless pump bottle, of course. Even if I don’t continue to use this SPF, I will be keeping the bottle and using it to decant others SPF products in to.

[Hada Labo UV White Gel SPF 50+ PA++++]

Nivea, Biore, Hada Labo (top to bottom). Rubbed in a little.

Water, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (Octinoxate), isononyl isononanoate, dimethicone, ethanol, BG, PEG-12 dimethicone, pentylene glycol, polysilicone-15 ( Parsol SLX) , glycol dimethacrylate crosspolymer, bisethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine (Tinosorb S), ascorbyl phosphate Mg (Vitamin C derivative), hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid (nano hyaluronic acid) , sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid), hexyl diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl benzoate (Uvinul A Plus), polysilicone-13, phenoxyethanol, carbomer, TEA, polystyrene, polyvinyl alcohol, hydroxyethyl cellulose, EDTA-2 Na, butyl carbamic acid iodide Propynyl, (acrylates / alkyl (C 10 – 30)) crosspolymer, titanium oxide, acrylate copolymer ammonium, hydrous silica, aluminum hydroxide, Hydrogensulfate dimethicone, methyl paraben

The ingredients: 31 ingredients. 5 UVB/A chemical and mineral filters. 6 other potentially good ingredients, 1 well known potential irritant and the rest are fillers and texture enhancers etc. The first beneficial ingredient is number 3, then 8 then 12, 13, 14 and then 29. So out of 31 ingredients it has one good ingredient in the top 5, 2 in the top 10, 5 in total in the first half and then 1 in the second half of the ingredients so likely to be of varying quantities. It has the least amount of added beneficial ingredients out of the three but only by a couple. It’s not about total amount of ingredients in a product but the concentration of the specific ingredients in the product and their own abilities to be skin soothing and healing. Alcohol is the number 5 ingredient on the list and it has no fragrance. If alcohol is a trigger for you or you don’t like using it in your skincare, this isn’t for you.

The filters: Hada Labo is rated SPF 50+ PA++++ so it has an extra + than Nivea but the same rating as Biore. It has 5 UV filters, 1 more than Biore and 2 more than Nivea. Hada Labo is a mixture of mineral and chemical filters unlike Biore and Nivea which are both chemical. It has the highest rating for UBV and A rays so it offers the maximum protection available. It uses Oxitinoxate (UVB) and Uvinal A Plus (UVA1+2) which are in all three products, Tinasorb S (UVB, A1+2) which is also in Biore, Parsol SLX (UVB, not a lot of information on it, but seems good) and Titanium Oxide (mineral, UVB and UVA2) definitely making this a broad spectrum sunscreen. So we have 4 filters providing UVB protection, 2 filters providing UVA1 protection and 3 filters protecting against UVA2.

Application an Experience: It is described as a “white gel” however it didn’t feel like a gel to me. It felt thicker and heavier than a gel or serum or lotion and felt like a thicker moisturiser. It didn’t have the texture, lubrication or slip of a silicone based product even though it does have silicones in it. The best way to describe the texture is it feels as if it is a non silicone moisturiser with a slight emollient texture. Titanium Oxide is giving it the bright white colour as it is a white pigment however it doesn’t dry down white or have a white cast. You can almost sense there is a pigment in the texture as it makes it thicker and I think that is what I am feeling. It’s not unpleasant, it doesn’t dry sticky but it does feel heavier in comparison to the other 2 gels because of the mineral filter. You can feel something slightly on your skin from the mineral filter that you don’t get with the other two. Makes up goes on top nice enough but not as smooth as the Biore or Nivea.

Smell: It has a very mild smell but not unpleasant. It had the mildest smell of the three.

Price: I bought this from Amazon in December 2018. It took roughly 6 weeks to come, being delivered in February 2019. At the time, it was priced at £12.04 for 90g. You can buy this on Timeless UK for £22.99, Yesstyle for £14.44 or Amazon for £13.65. Comes in at £1.20 per 10g based on the price I paid. This makes it the middle of the price points making it nearly double the price of Nivea. Can be bought from Amazon here.*

Packaging: It comes in a tub. A plastic tub. Bit of a nuisance. I decanted it in to a plastic airless pump bottle and covered the bottle in sparkly tape. Bit of extra work and hassle but it made the application of the product a lot easier. Not a fan of the packaging at all as it allows for air and bacteria to get in to the product.

All rubbed in. No trace.

[Pros and Cons]


-SPF50+ PA++++ Offers the highest protection from UVA and B. Four filters.
– It feels lovely on and wears well
-Packaging is easy enough to use and seals the product well from light, air and bacteria
-It has the longest ingredients list, has some beneficial ingredients but they are low on the list meaning they are low in concentration and efficacy
– Alcohol is high on the list
-It has fragrance but it is the last ingredient.
– It is the most expensive of the three products costing £1.90 for 10g. This could end up being expensive if you apply the suggested amount of 1g (a quarter of a teaspoon, depending on the size of your face).


-SPF 50+ PA+++ Its provides decent protection from UVA and B but not the highest. 3 filters.
-It comes in a handy pump dispenser
-It is the cheapest of the three
-It feels the nicest on
-It has no added fragrance
-It has the smallest ingredients list but the highest number of beneficial ingredients generally -and in the top to middle of the ingredients list.
-Alcohol is high on the list
I would prefer it had another UVA filter to provide the highest of protection and make it PA++++

Hada Labo:

-SPF50+ PA++++ Offering the highest protection from UVA and B. 5 filters and is a mixture of mineral and chemical.
-It has several beneficial ingredients, but the smallest ingredient list of the three.
-It’s texture is not as smooth or silky as Biore or Nivea and feels like a thicker lightweight moisturiser due to the white pigment from the mineral filter. It goes on well but not as well as the other 2 and leaves a slight texture to the skin due to the mineral filter.
-It’s middle of the road price wise.
-It has no added fragrance
-Alcohol is high up in the ingredients
It comes in a plastic tub making application messy and allows for light, air and bacteria to get in.

I love things about all three products, however I haven’t found everything I am looking for in one of them. Biore would be perfect if it didn’t have fragrance and was slighty cheaper. Nivea would be ideal if it had another UVA filter and Hada Labo would be ideal if it had a different texture. I am sure there are other Japanese products out there with more filters and no fragrance. If you know of any please let me know!

The airless pump bottle I put the Hada Labo in.

I hope you find this useful and share the love if you do.

Shop Biore Here,* Shop Nivea Here,* Shop Hada Labo Here*

S ❤ x

Sources: Skincea, NCIB, NCIB, Research Gate, LabMuffin, EWG.

3 thoughts on “Afraid of premature aging? Keep your skin youthful, smooth and beautiful. SPF is the answer. The Best Japanese Sunscreen – Biore Aqua Rich Watery Essence/ Nivea Super Water Gel/ Hada Labo UV White Gel”

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