With their cutting-edge technology, Korean beauty products have taken the world by storm—and K-beauty sunscreens are no exception. Korean sunscreens are known for their innovative formulas, broad-spectrum protection, and sometimes even additional skincare benefits.
But with so many options available, how do you choose the right one for your skin type? Whether you have acne-prone, dry, oily, or combination skin, we've got you covered. Here, we’ll explain what you need to know about Korean sunscreens, and how you can find the best options for your unique skin needs.
The difference between Korean and American sunscreens isn't only in their formulations but also in the way they measure sun protection. While both types of sunscreens can be either mineral or chemical-based, and their primary function is to shield your skin from harmful UV rays, the way they measure and indicate this protection differs.
American sunscreens use the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) system to gauge their effectiveness. SPF only measures protection from UVB exposure, which is primarily responsible for sunburns and is a significant player in developing skin cancer.¹ UVA rays, which also contribute to skin aging and potential skin cancers, are not directly accounted for in SPF ratings.
In contrast, Korean sunscreens use both the SPF system and the Protection Grade of UVA (PA) system.² The PA system measures protection from UVA exposure, which is crucial as UVA rays can penetrate deeper into the skin, causing long-term damage like premature aging and some types of skin cancers.³
So with Korean sunscreens, you get a broader picture of the level of protection against both UVB and UVA rays, while American sunscreens protect against both, but typically only inform you of their level of UVB protection.⁴
Skin is unique, varying from person to person—so what’s right for someone else’s complexion, might not be the best for yours! When it comes to sun protection, you should opt for a sunscreen that is designed for your specific skin type.
Whether your skin is acne-prone, dry, oily, or sensitive, we've curated a list of the top eight Korean sunscreens that will not only shield your skin from harmful rays but can also enhance its overall health. Let’s dive in!
1. COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++: This sunscreen is a good choice for acne-prone skin. This lightweight formulation offers broad-spectrum protection while also helping against acne. It's enriched with aloe vera, a powerhouse ingredient known for its calming and soothing properties. Aloe vera can help alleviate inflammation and has an anti-acne effect.⁵
2. SOME BY MI Truecica Mineral Calming Suncream SPF50+ PA++++: This mineral-based sunscreen is specifically designed for acne-prone skin. It’s formulated with tea tree oil, known for its acne-control properties.⁶ It also contains Centella asiatica extract, a herbal ingredient recognized for its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.⁷ These ingredients work synergistically to help you manage acne while providing broad-spectrum sun protection.
3. Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Watery Sun Gel: This Korean sunscreen is specially formulated for dry skin. It contains hyaluronic acid, a potent ingredient known for its exceptional moisture-retaining and hydrating properties.⁸ It also offers broad-spectrum SPF 50+ PA++++ protection so if you have dry skin and are seeking sun protection that doesn't compromise on hydration, this sunscreen is a good option to consider.
4. Purito Centella Green Level Safe Sun SPF50+ PA++++: This sunscreen has a lightweight, non-greasy formula, and offers comfortable wear throughout the day without adding any excess oiliness to your skin. It also provides broad-spectrum SPF50+ PA++++ protection, shielding skin against harmful UVA and UVB rays.
5. Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Sun Milk SPF50+ PA+++: This sunscreen features a lightweight, milk-like texture that absorbs quickly into skin, reducing the greasiness often associated with sun protection. Its matte finish also helps skin stay shine-free throughout the day. Offering SPF50+ PA+++ protection, it also shields skin against harmful UVA and UVB rays.
6. Dr. G Green Mild Up Sun SPF50+ PA++++: This mineral sunscreen relies on physical filters, including zinc oxide, which reflects harmful UV rays, providing a safer sun protection method for sensitive skin types. Unlike many chemical sunscreens that absorb UV rays, this sits on the skin's surface, reducing your risk of irritation. Further enhancing its credibility, Dr. G Green Mild Up Sun has undergone tests verifying it as a gentle, mild product suitable for sensitive skin. If your skin is sensitive and requires a gentle touch, this sunscreen may be worth considering for your daily sun protection routine.
7. Krave Beauty The Beet Sun: This sunscreen is suitable for all skin types, thanks to its lightweight, hydrating formula. It blends into skin without leaving a white cast or greasy residue, a common concern with many sunscreens.
8. NEOGEN Day-Light Protection Sun Screen SPF50 PA+++: This sunscreen is another great option for all skin types. Its unique blend offers a high level of sun protection and absorbs quickly into your skin without leaving behind a white cast or greasy feel.
Protecting your skin from the sun is essential to reduce your risk of sun damage and skin cancer. There are several things you can do to keep your skin healthy and safe.
Firstly, seeking shade under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter can provide a good amount of protection from direct sunlight. However, keep in mind that UV rays can still reach your skin indirectly. So even when you're in the shade, it's crucial to take additional protective measures.⁹
Using sunscreen is one such measure and a highly effective one at that. Remember to opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, and has an SPF of at least 30. Wearing protective clothing is another way to shield your skin from the sun. Clothes with tight weave or UV-protective fabrics, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses can provide excellent protection against the sun's damaging rays.¹⁰
Remember, the sun's UV rays can harm your skin even on cloudy or hazy days, so it's essential to practice sun safety every day, regardless of the weather. Additionally, remember that sunscreen cannot prevent all harm from UV rays.
Curology's The Sunscreen is a dermatologist-designed formula that offers broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection to shield your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Our non-comedogenic formula won't clog your pores, making it an excellent choice for all skin types—even for those with acne-prone and sensitive skin.
In protecting your skin from the sun, you not only prevent immediate damage like sunburn but also reduce the risk of long-term effects such as skin cancer and premature aging. So why wait? Start your journey to healthier skin with Curology's The Sunscreen today.
Both Korean and other sunscreens offer sun protection and can be either chemical or mineral. However, some consider Korean sunscreens to be superior due to their lightweight textures, high sun protection, and skin-friendly ingredients.
Korean skincare is trending worldwide. There are many popular sunscreens in Korea; some of the most popular options include Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Sun Milk and Dr. G Green Mild Up Sun SPF50+ PA++++.
Korean sunscreens can be either mineral-based or chemical-based. Mineral sunscreens contain ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to physically block UV rays, while chemical sunscreens use ingredients like avobenzone and octinoxate to absorb and neutralize UV rays. Some Korean sunscreens also contain a combination of both mineral and chemical filters.
Gabros, S., et al. Sunscreens And Photoprotection. StatPearls. (2023, March 7).
Latha, M.S., et al. Sunscreening Agents: A Review. Journal of Clinical Aesthetics and Dermatology. (January 2013).
D'Orazio, J., et al. UV Radiation and the Skin. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. (2013, June 7).
Latha, M.S., et al. Sunscreening Agents: A Review. Journal of Clinical Aesthetics and Dermatology. Ibid.
Surjushe, A., et al. Aloe vera: a short review. Indian Journal of Dermatology. (2008, n.d.).
Malhi, H.K., et al. Tea tree oil gel for mild to moderate acne; a 12 week uncontrolled, open-label phase II pilot study. Australas Journal of Dermatol. (August 2017).
Park, J.H., et al. Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Titrated Extract of Centella asiatica in Phthalic Anhydride-Induced Allergic Dermatitis Animal Model. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. (2017, March 30).
Papakonstantinou, E., et al. Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermato-endocrinology. (2012, July 1).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sun Safety. (2023, April 18).
American Academy of Dermatology Association. Practice Safe Sun. (2022, April 18).
Erin Pate is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner at Curology. She earned her Masters of Science in Nursing at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL.
* Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Results may vary.
Erin Pate, NP-C