Sunscreens that don’t give me acne

And hopefully they won’t give you acne either, but YMMV 🙂

A large deterrent for wearing sunscreen every day for a lot of people is that it usually gives them acne! I have acne prone skin around my chin so I was always hesitant to apply it myself, relying on other steps in my routine to provide sun protection. While many foundations and moisturizers are adding extra SPF that does supply some coverage, you rarely apply enough of them to ensure proper coverage. Since applying a separate sunscreen every day I’ve noticed a remarkable improvement in my skin’s texture and color. Here are the sunscreens that helped me along the way:


Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50 PA++++

Swatches on the left. This is one of the holy grail products touted by skincare enthusiates and Asian beauty fans. The number one selling sunscreen in Japan, Biore watery essence is a chemical only sunscreen with a watery texture. If you’ve only experienced thick, sticky, heavily scented suncreen all of your life than this sunscreen will blow you mind. Watery essence is easy to apply and leaves a light film on the skin with a matte texture, great for aplying makeup on top. The drawback? It’s not water or sweat proof. Watery essence is meant for daily wear in an office or cool eniviroments. I did wear this during the peak of summer in Japan with plenty of sweating with no signs of a burn, but I also made sure to reapply every 4-5 hours.

Cost: $16 for 2 – 50g bottles

Ingredient list: CosDNA – Available on Amazon


Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel SPF50 PA++++

Swatches on the right. Biore watery gel is the sister sunscreen to the watery essence. This sunscreen is mostly chemical but does supply some physical blockers. Called ‘Watery Gel’, it is exactly that, a watery but smooth (silicone like) texture that glides easily over the skin. The product does have some thicker white specs in it but they dissolve during application. Like the watery essence, it is also not water proof and meant for milder weather. You can usually find Biore watery gel for cheaper than the watery essence, but it does have some additional ingredients that are potential irritants like stearic acid.

Cost: $9 for a 90ml bottle

Ingredient list: CosDNA – Available on Amazon


COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50 PA+++

If you are new to Asian sunscreens, then this one is going to feel more familiar. This has just a touch of that classic sunscreen smell and greasiness. Cosrx sun cream is a good mix of physical and chemical sun protection, so I choose this when I want longer lasting coverage. The texture is very smooth, thick, and slightly viscous (silicone). Wait until it’s fully dry before applying makeup on top, it dries matte and goes clear once fully absorbed. Be careful not to rub your face during the day; the sun cream leaves a film that will pill up when rubbed.  I think this a good sunscreen for dry skin as it’s quite moisturizing but it is hit or miss on oily skin. There is added fragrance so if you have a sensitivity to fragrance, skip it!

Cost: $12 for a 50ml bottle

Ingredient list: CosDNA – Available on COSRX


Land Museum Pearly Selection Sun Cream SPF50 PA+++

This is one of my newest purchases. Trying to convince my mom to wear sunscreen, I picked it up on a 1 + 1 sale and have been pretty pleased! This is like a hybrid between the COSRX suncream and Biore watery gel. The texture is a creamy watery lotion that spreads easily and sets dewy. When applied under makeup, it acts like a primer that leaves a ‘glow from within’ look. Land Museum sun cream isn’t good if you want an overall matte look with your makeup. Since this isn’t being marketed internationally, I *currently* only have the ingredients in Korean (that don’t translate that well) but from what I can tell for irritants are silicones and typical sunscreen ingredients, but no added fragrance.

Cost: $19 for 2 – 50ml bottles

Ingredient list: A-Land – Available on A-Land


Nivea Sun Protect Water Gel Super SPF50 PA+++

This was my first Japanese sunscreen purchase. I prefer the Biore watery essence on my face; however, Nivea is my go to for body coverage (which is apparently what it is marketed for). The texture is again, a watery gel, but smoother and wetter than Biore’s watery gel. The wetter feeling adds a slight cooling effect when applied and leaves a hydrated matte finish with no white cast. I didn’t have any issues applying makeup over this sunscreen but I did notice my skin looked a little bit drier after 5+ hours compared to other sunscreens. Nivea water gel comes in a squeeze or pump bottle and you can purchase refill bags. There is pretty short ingredient list for Nivea water gel so it’s an easy check to see if this one is right for you!

Cost: $11 for a 140g bottle

Ingredient list: CosDNA – Available on Amazon


Everyone’s skin is different so please keep in mind what works for me may not work for you. I’ve linked the ingredients list for all of the products. If you have a sensitivity to silicone or alcohol or fragrance, check before you buy! Want to decrease the sensitivity of your skin? Give this a read 🙂

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