When I tell my friends and family that I slather on SPF daily and religiously (and they should too!), I'm usually presented with eye rolls galore. You see, some members of the Black community have this unannounced theory that, since we're teeming with melanin, we're somehow immune to the sun's damaging effects. (Black don't crack, anyone?) I don't buy it, nor do I preach it. I'm #teamsunscreen all the way, but, up until a couple of weeks ago, I never truly loved my selections. All the ones I'd used were goopy, left me with a white cast, were too heavy, and were overall too, well, sunscreen-y. It was more something I put on out of necessity rather than because it also felt good on my skin. But all my resentment toward this essential skin-care step quickly melted away when I finally got my hands on the much-adored, highly praised, Holy Grail SPF — Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence sunscreen, which is only sold abroad. If you read any popular beauty blogs, you've definitely seen this blue tube floating around. Fifty Shades Of Snail announced her desire to elope with the SPF, Sheryll of The Wanderlust Project aptly referred to it as the perfect corner piece of the most perfect brownie ever, and I'm here to back up all their compliments twofold. Seriously, this stuff is the shit. Let's start with the formula: It's lightweight, the watery texture is nonsticky, and it absorbs like a goddamn dream. My skin veers on the oily side, and my main issue with other sunscreens is that they typically leave my mug greasy after only a couple of hours. But you don't have to worry about that with this bad boy. Bonus points for the fact that it doesn't transform me into a ghost upon application and provides an impressive SPF 50 coverage. We already let you in on the fact that Asia produces some of the best sunscreens in the game, and this product is further proof of that declaration. As cosmetic chemist Ni'Kita Wilson explains, the primary difference between the SPF approach of America and every other country is that we only have nine approved drug actives to support SPF claims. "[Places] like Asia can use UV filters that are more effective and more aesthetically pleasing," she explains. "Their testing methods are a bit tighter than ours in that the amount of energy used to generate redness is more defined than in the U.S."
Countries like Asia can use UV filters that are more effective and more aesthetically pleasing.
Joshua Zeichner, MD, a dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, explains that these innovations might be coming stateside (hopefully) soon. "Dermatologists are lobbying the U.S. government to speed up their approval process to help bring these newer ingredients over, as they may offer better UVA protection than we currently have," he tells us. That sounds like a good idea — cough, cough. One qualm that many find with Bioré's sunscreen is the fact that alcohol is a prominent ingredient. If your skin veers on the sensitive or dry side, this might not be the SPF for you. But that shouldn't be the reason you write it off, Wilson says. "Asian skin care relies on alcohol for quick drying and reducing tack, so it's not uncommon to see it in an Asian product — especially one that is watery like this," she reassures, adding that the other sunscreen actives are commonly found in U.S. products. The other major setback? While many Bioré products are sold in North America, you can only find this specific one abroad right now. While we — and many bloggers — can vouch for purchasing it on Amazon with good results in the past, we can't guarantee it every time. (Read all about the beauty gray market here.) Otherwise, grab some on your next trip abroad.