It has been quite an interesting experiment with this Mentholatum Skin Aqua UV Sara Sara Essence SPF50+ PA+++. I bought it back in May and started testing it along with several other sunscreens, Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+ PA+++, Mentholatum SunPlay Super Block SPF50+ PA+++, Mentholatum Skin Aqua UV Sara Sara Milk SPF50+ PA+++, and Allie Extra UV Gel Mineral Moist N SPF50+ PA+++ for the face, and Mentholatum Skin Aqua UV Moisture Gel SPF32 PA+++ and Nivea Sun Protect Water Gel SPF30 PA++ for the body.
This Sara Sara Essence is a newer release and I picked it because according to what I read, it has stronger UVA protection (indicated by PA) with Tinosorb S, an ingredient common in European sunscreens known for much stronger UVA protection than American sunscreens, which focuses on UVB (indicated by SPF) and pretty much ambivalent when it comes to UVA.
This sunscreen comes out of the tube a light cream but applies a cooling gel. It promises a naked skin finish without any stickiness, no white cast, and no coverage whatsoever. Sounds like a competitor to Biore Watery Essence, doesn't it? Like its super drying sister Sara Sara Milk, this Sara Sara Essence also has powder in its ingredients. There is alcohol scent, but nowhere as strong as Sara Sara Milk and Biore. Completely unscented, it takes about 5 minutes for absorption, much longer than Biore, and dries to a totally transparent dewy finish with a sheen and feels somewhat tacky. No worries, both the tackiness as well as the sheen disappear after complete absorption, some 5-20 more minutes (~15 minutes when I was still in Japan, ~5 minutes when I was visiting my folks at home where the climate is very dry, and 20+ minutes here in Taipei where it has been quite humid). After complete absorption, it leaves my skin with a transparent soft matte finish in addition to being silky soft and velvety. It is not water or sweat resistant and does not require an oil cleanser to remove, but it is sebum resistant. Along with the powder, this seems to imply it has some oil control function.
On me, this Sara Sara Essence lasts a few hours longer than Biore. If I'm really careful during application, it will not melt around my eye area or sting my eyes. However, I'm still talking indoor here. Knowing my own skin, I'm still doubtful it will weather through the combination of my oily t-zones and humidity. That said, it's also past October and Taipei has cooled down and dried up a tiny bit and for the past week, I've been wearing this out to school with the insurance of Menthotalum SunPlay Super Block around the eye area. I'm not taking any chances when it comes to a stinging painful meltdown, especially when I'm going to be stuck in class all morning.
While I will continue to get Biore for hubby, for myself I prefer this Sara Sara Essence for the lighter alcohol content, the powder ingredient for oil control, and of course the better UVA protection. I do think it's a better option than Biore for those with oily skin or those who live in wet climate, even if it takes up another 5-20 minutes for complete absorption to get to that silky and velvety bare skin finish. So far, it has not been drying out my skin, even when I was testing it at home in much drier climate. And all that said, this is still strictly a daily use sunscreen and not meant for heavy duty sun protection.