The 8 best Korean sunscreens of 2023, per a dermatologist
Whether you're located in a blistering tropical climate or a frosty retreat, applying SPF every day is crucial. This applies no matter if you're a fan of the handy spray-on sunscreens or a smooth, lightweight mineral variant.
According to dermatology specialist Dr. Alice Reynolds, who practices at the reputable Dermatology Specialists Group in NYC, "Sunscreen is a vital part of skincare, helping to fend off signs of photoaging and hyperpigmentation."
Dr. Reynolds also touches upon other essential practices like the double-cleanse method, which begins with an oil-based cleanser to eliminate makeup and is followed by a hydrating facial cleanser to deeply cleanse the pores. Facial massage is also highly recommended to boost circulation and stimulate muscles for anti-aging purposes.
Equally lauded is the Korean skincare approach, particularly Korean sunscreen. "Korean skincare is acclaimed for maintaining high standards and innovation while remaining affordable," adds Dr. Reynolds. "A multitude of products target specific issues such as acne, dullness, redness, and dryness. The emphasis here is on prevention and long-term results, employing more gentle ingredients than traditional skincare practices."
The Korean culture advocates a consistent skincare routine from a young age, passed down through generations. This signifies their focus on prevention, unlike the Western culture which often relies on retroactive treatment.
Next, Dr. Reynolds has carefully selected eight of the best Korean sunscreens, providing details on their formulation and what to look for when shopping. You can find more in our comprehensive FAQ section.
Top 8 Korean Sunscreens Recommended by Dr. Alice Reynolds
1. ARZTIN Airy Water Sun Cream SPF 50+ PA++++ 60ml
A non-sticky, clear, essence-type organic sunscreen that absorbs swiftly like skincare. It's hypoallergenic and skin-friendly, offering hydration and soothing benefits, while shielding fragile skin from external irritants.
2. COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50 PA+++, 50ml
Sun-moisturizer: The aloe soothing sun cream is similar to a light moisturizer, unlike other sunblocks that leave the skin dry and stripped.
COSRX is derived from the words "cosmetics" and "prescription (RX)." Their goal is to provide customized solutions for their customers' individual skin concerns.
They believe that cosmetics should be more than just looking beautiful on the outside. They are devoted to enabling individuals with various skin types to solve their problems, gain self-confidence, and find their true beauty
3. Beauty of Joseon Relief Sun: Rice & Probiotics SPF 50 PA++++ Facial Sunscreen
Dr. Reynolds endorses the Beauty of Joseon Relief Sun: Rice + Probiotics (SPF 50+/PA+++), which provides maximum UVA and UVB protection. The formulation contains rice extract and probiotics to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation. Notably, it's also lightweight and moisturizing, a rare quality among many sunscreens.
4. 9wishes Sun Moisturizer SPF 50+ PA+++ 50ml
9 Wishes Sun Moisturizer offers triple-action care: SPF 50 protection, hydration, and wrinkle-smoothing. This antioxidant-rich sunscreen, suitable for both men and women, not only shields the skin but also has anti-aging properties. Infused with Aloe Vera for added vitamins and soothing benefits, its lightweight, non-greasy formula with zinc oxide ensures a refreshed finish. Made with skin-loving botanicals, it promotes a youthful glow and is hypoallergenic, using only natural ingredients.
5. Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion SPF 50+ Foundation
The Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion SPF 50+ Foundation offers excellent sun protection with tinted coverage. Dr. Reynolds suggests this as a great option for reapplying sunscreen over makeup throughout the day. It comes in six different shades and contains light-reflecting particles for a 'glass skin' effect.
6. NEOGEN White Truffle Treatment Sonnenschutz SPF50+ PA++++
NEOGEN White Truffle Treatment Sonnenschutz SPF50+ PA++++ is popular. Rich in the nutrition of white truffle, this sunscreen provides a silk sunscreen experience with a soft outer layer. The abundant nutrition supply of white truffle helps recharge the skin's energy.
7. Tocobo Cotton Soft Sun Stick SPF 50+ PA++++
Tocobo's Cotton Soft Sun Stick (SPF 50+/PA++++) has gained popularity on TikTok for its ability to reapply sunscreen without smudging makeup or adding shine or grease. The product is cruelty-free and vegan, providing the highest rating for UVA and UVB protection.
8. Anua Heartleaf Silky Moisture Sun Cream SPF 50+ PA++++ 50ml
This silky sunscreen offers a light and refreshing feel, designed for daily use throughout the year, ensuring no residue. It's makeup-friendly, enhancing foundation adherence and durability, thanks to its sebum-control formula. Proven through various tests, it offers strong UV protection, doesn't affect makeup, and is hypoallergenic. Suitable for even sensitive skin, it not only shields from the sun but also soothes with the Quercitran from Houttuynia cordata. Its moisture-rich formula feels fresh even with multiple applications and contains a patented ingredient to minimize pores and reduce sebum, ensuring a smooth finish.
An FAQ on Korean Sunscreens
In this section, Dr. Reynolds shares insights about what differentiates Korean sunscreens from others, their formulation process, and the rise of Korean skincare popularity.
Popular Korean Skincare Practices
'Glass skin' is a significant trend in Korean skincare, aiming for a smooth, poreless, glowing skin appearance. Apart from using Korean skincare products, certain skincare practices also contribute to promoting skin health to achieve this look.
Rising Popularity of Korean Skincare
Social media has significantly contributed to the surge in Korean skincare popularity, introducing these products to a wider audience. "Their adorable packaging also helps to entice consumers," observes Dr. Reynolds. "Their focus on prevention and daily skincare routines appeals to many who prefer a holistic approach."
Formulation of Korean Skincare Products
Korean skincare products are generally gentler and more hydrating. "Since they're usually safe for sensitive skin, they can be used by a broader audience," explains Dr. Reynolds. Many of the ingredients are derived from traditional Korean medicine (hanbang), such as green tea and ginseng.
Choosing a Korean Sunscreen
Dr. Reynolds suggests looking for a PA (Protection Grade of UVA Rays) rating in addition to the SPF (specific to UVB) when choosing a Korean sunscreen. The PA rating system uses plus signs for grading, with PA++++ indicating extremely high UVA protection.
Comparison Between Korean and Traditional Sunscreens
Korean sunscreens focus on prevention and gentle ingredients. As a result, they are intended for daily skincare routines rather than being marketed solely for use on beach days. In contrast, sunscreen in the US is regulated by the FDA, limiting access to the latest UV filter technologies available in Asia.
What to look for in Korean sunscreen for every skin type, explained by a dermatologist
Lastly, Dr. Reynolds offers advice for selecting a Korean sunscreen suitable for each skin type:
Combination and Dry: Opt for a lightweight, more moisturizing sunscreen with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and squalane.Mature: Sunscreens with antioxidants can provide additional anti-aging benefits.Oily or Acne-Prone: Look for a lightweight, oil-free, and non-comedogenic sunscreen.Sensitive: A mineral sunscreen may cause less irritation and rash than chemical versions.