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This Japanese Sunscreen Is the First Skincare Thing I've Ever Actually Cared About

Biore Watery Essence Sunscreen
Biore Watery Essence Sunscreen
Photo: Shep McAllister

I am not a skincare person. I don’t moisturize or exfoliate, I have two products in the shower (whatever body wash and shampoo were on sale the last time I ran out), and to the extent that I remember to wash my face, I do it in the shower with the same loofa that I use on my butt. As far as sunscreen goes, the only thing I really knew about it was that I didn’t like it, and given the option, I would usually just opt to stay indoors until the UV index fell to around 3 or 4, or until someone invented a sunscreen pill, whichever came first.


That all changed when my wife introduced me to Biore Watery Essence sunscreen. It’s SPF 50 (the bare minimum for my needs, thank you very much), waterproof for 80 minutes, and feels like rubbing water on your skin. Cool to the touch, it rubs in effortlessly, and doesn’t come with the unpleasant smell or zincy stickiness of pretty much every other sunscreen I’ve used. About two minutes after putting it on, I’ve usually completely forgotten about it, which is a compliment of the highest order.

For reasons I don’t fully understand, Biore doesn’t officially sell this magical stuff in the U.S., but it’s easy to buy on Amazon from third party sellers, usually for around $10-$12 per 1.75 oz. bottle. That’s expensive, as sunscreens go, but just try it once and you’ll probably never buy anything else.

However, Neutrogena recently introduced its own knock-off called Hydro Boost, and I came away pretty impressed after trying it at the beach. It felt a little heavier than the Biore, and probably took one or two more rubs to absorb into my skin, but it was still better than basically every other sunscreen out there. You can also buy it in physical stores in the U.S., and it’s quite a bit cheaper per ounce. If I was planning a trip well in advance, I think ordering Watery Essence is worth the premium, but I wouldn’t hesistate to buy Hydro Boost in a pinch.

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