15 Sep 2016

Comparison Review: Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Combination Watery Cream (2016) || Biotherm Aquasource Gel

This was initially meant to be an individual review for the 2016 renewed version of Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Combination Watery Cream. However, since I also got a few miniatures of the Biotherm  Aquasource Gel, which was supposed to be the original version of the Nature Republic dupe, I thought it would be interesting and insightful to make a detailed comparison of both products here.

Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Combination Watery Cream

I have always been curious about this cream. If you have been following me for a while, you may have noticed that I've talked about its sister products before, which was the Toner and Emulsion from the same line and how I was completely unimpressed by their texture and performance. As such, although many have raved about this cream on the internet, I still feel a bit hesitant to try one out myself.

It was not until few months ago that I jumped onto this cream again. Nature Republic was having a 30% store-wide discount when I visited its Leisure Mall outlet, and was somehow attracted by the formula and packaging upgrades of the Super Aqua Max line. So in the end, I brought home this and a bottle of their newly released calendula sun gel.

I must say that, packaging plays an important vow factor here. The gradient-greenish bottle does remind me a lot of deep green ocean. Green also symbolizes lives, marine world and seaweed.

The jar is made of glass although the beautiful swirl-top is plastic. It definitely looks more expensive that it actually prices.

The texture is a big plus. Unlike its much greasier older version, this 2016 version utilizes something they call the aqua sherbet network to form a silicone gel moisture film around your skin. This smart formula is claimed to be able to clarify and revitalize the oily T-zone of the skin while keeping the U-zone moisturized, making it perfect for combination skin.

True to its claim, the cream does feel like an aqua sherbet gel cream, which reminds me a lot of finely grained plant stem. So far it is the only cream that can control sebum on my skin while moisturizing it in a precise and comfortable way. It doesn't feel overly mattifying or greasy on the skin. Super cool and unique texture I would say!

The smell of this cream is amazing which reminds me a lot of breezy ocean. It is definitely perfumy but not unpleasant although might be a little bit overwhelming for individuals sensitive to scent.


Sea Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone, Peg-10 Dimethicon/Vinyl Dimethicone Cross Polymer, Hydroxtethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract, Amaranthus Caudatus Seed Extract, Piper Methysticum Leaf/Root/Stem Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Pueraria Thunbergiana Root Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Paeonia Lactiflora Root Extract, Cnidium Officinale Root Extract, Sargassum Muticum Extract, Hypnea Musciformis Extract, Ulva Lactuca Extract, Ecklonia Cava Extract, Codium Tomentosum Extract, Agarum Cribosum Extract, Enteromorpha Compressa Extract, Laminaria Japonica Extract, , Dunaliella Saline Extract, Sargassum Fulvellum Extract, Porphyra Yezoensis Extract, Fucus Vesiculosus Extract, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Spirulina Platensis Extract, Jania Rubens Extract, Celidium Cartilagineum Extract, Macrocystis Pyrifera Extract, Algae Extract, Undaria Pinnatifida Extract, Codium Fragile Extract, Laminaria Cloustoni Extract, Chlorella Minutissima Extract, Hizikia Fusiforme Extract, Salicornia Herbacea Extract, Pikea Robusta Extract, Hydrolyzed Algae Extract, Soluble Collagen, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Squalane, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Polysorbate 20, PEG 10 Dimethicone, Sodium Polyacrylate, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone, Crosspolymer, Polysorbate 60, Betaine, Water, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Lactobacillus/Algae Extract Ferment, Macrocystis Pyrifera (Kelp) Protein, Algae Oligosaccharides, Chlorella Ferment, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol, Methylisothiazolinone, Yellow5, Blue1


Since this is a renewed version, I also compared its updated ingredients list to the older version and was a bit surprised to see almost no differences except for changes in the listings. Top 10 ingredients remained the same. Of course, it would be unfair to say that this was NOT an upgraded version since they have reformulated the texture and the cream does feel distinctively more hydrating than the older version. Hence, I guess it was more of a technology advancement instead of individual ingredients upgrade then!

Basically, despite the seemingly gigantic list of ingredients, this cream is made of mostly sea water, a lot of silicone, and a bunch of plant extracts especially algae. About 70% of extracts used here are marine algae or seaweed with research-backed elasticity-improving, antioxidizing, moisturizing and soothing effects. Some like amaranthus, caudatus, cnidium officinale also have anti-UV ray damage effects which will protect the skin against sun-related dark spots and sagging. I also spotted several fermented seaweed got added to this new formulation, making it much more potent than its older version.

In addition, we also have plant extracts with skin-lightening (anti-dark spots and brightening) properties like pigweed, licorice root extract, peony flower extract and pickleweed being added here; as well as skin repairing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, aloe vera extract, lecithin and squalane. This seems like a perfect cream not only for the younger skin but also for mature ones with its rich amount of anti-aging and anti-oxidizing ingredients.

Although I was generally pleased with 99% of the ingredients, I must say that I am very surprised to come across methylisothizolinone here. As you guys know, I am a big advocator against methylisothizolinone, which may actually cause nerve damage with frequent skin contacts. I am not sure why Nature Republic adds it here since this preservative is uncommonly found in Korean cosmetic products, but honestly until this ingredient is removed from this cream, I would not make anymore repurchase. Better safe than sorry, eh?

Biotherm Aquasource Gel (Normal/Combination Skin)

So, let's talk about Biotherm. The one I got was the 15ml miniature version. Original product came in 50ml.

Basically, Biotherm is what I would call a higher-end cosmetic brand in Malaysia in terms of pricing and brand image. It is widely available at departmental stores and is often placed besides luxurious brands like Sulwhasoo, SK-II, Shiseido, Estee Lauder and so on. I am not sure is the brand much more affordable in other countries but in Malaysia it is considered a luxurious cosmetic brand. 

Not many people can afford or are willing to spend that much of money on a facial cream, hence whether or not this one works better than the Nature Republic one may help some people to make a better choice.

As you can see, the Aquasource Gel has a refreshing and cooling watery gel texture that melts as it touches your skin. Unlike Nature Republic one that requires several patting and rubbing to get absorbed, this goes on velvety and weightlessly without you even noticing, except maybe for the strong scent that lingers.

Yes, this Biotherm Aquasource Gel has a strong scent. Most Biotherm products I noticed have really strong perfumy scent. This Aquasource Gel is really strong, up to a point where it gives me headache when I am not feeling great on a particular day or is not having enough sleep. If the Nature Republic one smells breezy refreshing, this one smells spicy refreshing.

its official claim: isn't it gorgeous?


Aqua, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Alcohol Denat., Prunus Armeniaca Kernel Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Mannose, C12-13 Pareth-23, C12-13 Paraeth-3, PEG/PPG/Polybutylene Glycol-8/5/3 Glycerin, Ceramide 3, Carbomer, Zinc Gluconate, Sodium Hydroxide, Serine, Divinyldimethicone/Dimethicone Copolymer, 2-Oleamido-1,3-Octadecanediol, Cholesterol, Ammonium Polyacryldimethyltauramide, Disodium EDTA, Hydroxypalmitoyl Sphinganine, Vitreoscilla Ferment, Citrulline, Xanthan Gum, Methoxypropanediol, Tocopherol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, CI 19140, Cl 42090, Linalool, Limonene, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Citral, Hexyl Cinnamal, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Parfum, (F.I.L. C173569/1)


This contains far lesser ingredients than Nature Republic, but the list alerts me more than the Nature Republic one. It has an impressive amount of fragrances, pigments, preservatives in addition to the presence of alcohol denat. No wonder it is giving me headache most of the time I am applying it. People say your body absorbs whatever you put on your face, and your face is the closest to your brain. Lols!

I have high tolerance to most ingredients in my skincare products, including alcohol. So far two products that give me an alcohol-related spicy (but bearable) feeling are Kose Sekkisei Lotion and Clinique Clarifying Lotion. This will be the 3rd. My guess is that alcohol is added here to give the Aquasource Gel a lightweighted and refreshing sensation. And to compensate the potential drying effects of alcohol they also add in quite a number of emollients and emulsifiers to give the gel an aqua texture.

The final result is that, this feels really nice when you just apply it, super soft and silky, but will turn into a disaster war zone when you have it on for longer, at least for my case here. Despite its seemingly hydrating texture, this Aquasource Gel is not at all hydrating and soothing, and worse still it stimulates oil production on my skin and the whole thing will turn into a layer of slippery aqua-oil wrap on my skin. I always need to wash this off or wipe it off with a cleansing toner several hours after applying it, especially in the day time. Not just me, a friend of mine with combination/sensitive skin feels that this is not hydrating enough either.

Of course, the ingredients used here are not all-bads. It still contains some good ones like apricot kernel oil, shea butter, ceramide, mannose, and serine with moisturizing and antioxidizing properties. Its star ingredient, life plankton, which I believe to be the vitreoscilla ferment is also an ingredient that claims to enhance oxygen utilized by cells thereby promoting faster cellular turnover and healthy cellular activities. Unlike Nature Republic which cooks 100 ingredients in a big dish to impress others, Biotherm seems much more targeted and confident in their selected few good ones.


  • packaging, presentation and images are similar
  • strong perfumy scent with Biotherm one more overwhelming (but this is highly subjective)
  • main ingredients are sea water and marine ingredients
  • both are not hydrating and moisturizing enough but NR one feels more moisturizing than the Biotherm one
  • both uses controversial preservatives

  • NR mattifies while moisturizing the skin; Biotherm cools, softens and refreshes
  • NR has sebum-controlling properties; Biotherm may trigger sebum production
  • NR feels gentler on the skin
  • Biotherm feels greasier on the skin few hours later
  • NR is more suitable for hotter Malaysia weather as it has oil-controlling properties
  • Biotherm is more suitable for colder weather as it protects and shields the skin against external aggressors
  • NR is 3-5 times cheaper than Biotherm in Malaysia
  • NR comes in 80ml whereas Biotherm comes in 50ml


Having said all these, I am sorry to come to the conclusion that both creams aren't my piece of cake.

Although I really enjoy the cheaper price, mattifying-moisturizing properties and lovely scent of the Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Combination Watery Cream, the presence of methylisothiazolinone in the cream really turns me off. I'm not ready to harm my neurosystem for a facial cream so better safe than be sorry. Unless of course if they reformulate their products and take off the methylisothiazolinone.

As for Biotherm Aquasource Gel, despite its attractive packaging and claim, I still couldn't find myself hanging out well with it. Its strong scent always gives me headache, its alcohol content irritates my skin a little and its watery gel greases not moisturizes my skin. My skin doesn't become better over time so there is no point getting another bottle after I'm done with my two 15ml miniatures.

If I really must pick one out of the two, then it would be Nature Republic, but so far both are not on my repurchase list at the moment.

Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Combination Watery Cream
packaging: ★
scent: ★
texture: ★
ingredients: ★
efficacy: ★
overall impression: ★
☆ (quite good and I somehow enjoy it)

Biotherm Aquasource Gel
packaging: ★
texture: ★
ingredients: ★

efficacy: ★

overall impression: ★
☆ (doesn't live up to my expectation)

You can get Nature Republic cream from: Nature Republic Malaysia | Hermo | Althea
You can get Biotherm gel from: Biotherm Malaysia | Sephora | Hermo
[Disclaimer] This is NOT a sponsored review. Products are purchased with my own money. All copy right of contents and images in this article is strictly mine.
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