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Sara-sara is a Japanese onomatopoeia that expresses silkiness or a smooth flowing motion.
It was on my very first trip to Japan during the height of summer, when I first encountered the word sara-sara on a bottle of sunscreen, Biore’s Aqua Rich Watery Essence to be exact, at my local convenience store. It was exactly what I needed to combat an entire two weeks of walking under the sun, during one of Japan’s hottest months. The sunscreen actually felt like a silky gloss, that was lightweight and incredibly hydrating. Many of us, myself included, have a rocky relationship with sunscreen because we’re reminded of the typical white cream that feels greasy and heavy, which often leaves behind a chemical scent. Unless you’re shelling out for a high-end product, a lot of American drugstore-level sunscreens unfortunately don’t deliver on their promises of a “sheer” or “dry-touch” formula.
As you might already know, Asian countries, particularly Japan, pay special attention to keeping their skin glowing and pure, reaching to far ends to protect their skin from its worst enemy, the sun. Any good skin routine includes sunscreen as one of the most crucial steps for healthy, bright skin, as the sun does the worst damage possible—from changes in skin texture and elasticity to visible spots and accelerated aging.
So, what makes Japanese sunscreen different from American ones?
It all comes down to the ingredients that are available and allowed for use. Surprisingly sunscreen is FDA regulated as a medicine! In addition to this, the FDA hasn’t updated their UVA protection standards for more than a decade and is notoriously slow for approving newer, more effective ingredients. To put this into perspective, the U.S. currently has 17 approved active sunscreen ingredients, while Japan has over 40, so it’s no wonder people say Japan is years ahead in skincare science. An access to a greater list of ingredients means Japan has practically perfected their sunscreens. Their formulas tend to dry quickly to the skin, which means it doesn’t leave behind an oily residue and is great for people who want to apply makeup over it. The more powerful components in Japanese sunscreens also do a better job of creating a barrier that either absorbs UV-rays before our skin does, reflects the UV-rays away from our skin, or sometimes a combination of both.
Japanese sunscreens are often paired with adjectives like “aqua,” “silky”, “cooling”, and even “milky” which are all true to its formula and is probably what makes these sunscreens so pleasant to use even in the worst weather conditions. This makes Japanese sunscreen great for both sunscreen skeptics and enthusiasts alike as it is incredibly effective and refreshing, coming in a wide variety of coverage and finishes. So, next time you think about sunscreens, think about the Japanese kind and its sara-sara qualities, and not to mention how affordable it is online!