Confession: I used to think that sunscreen was only necessary when on holiday, like going to the beach, mountains or some exotic place.
I know, right?
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger in “Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone” © Warner Bros.
I only started using sunscreen when I hit my mid-20s and my adult acne was getting seriously out of control. I kept slathering on topical treatments, never thinking that sun exposure would render all these creams and ointments useless, and worsen my condition.
Coming from a country where it feels and looks like it’s summer all year long, I had long resigned myself to the fact that sun exposure was unavoidable.
For this month’s Beauty Lab, I picked Etude House’s Sunprise Mild Airy Finish SPF50 PA+++. Quite a mouthful for such a small bottle, but it sure packs a punch!
What’s SPF? What’s PA?
Western brands of sunscreen mostly use the label SPF (Sun Protection Factor) which mainly measures UVB protection. The higher the SPF, the more protection it offers. According to an article on SkinCancer.org, an SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 93 per cent of UVB radiation while SPF 30 can block almost 97 per cent.
But UV radiation from the sun also includes UVA rays and this is where the PA comes in. PA means Protection Grade of UVA rays, and Asian sunscreen brands, especially Japanese and Korean ones, use this type of label to measure SPF. This is based on Persistent Pigment Darkening (PPD) readings developed in Japan that usually begin at 2 to 4 hours of sun exposure. It begins with a PA+, and can go as high as PA++++ to denote a PPD factor of more than 16.
To summarize: SPF = UVB protection. PA = UVA protection. SPF + PA = Best OTP ever!
This small bottle has a lot of pluses going for it!
The Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish is more milky than creamy, which I like because it feels less heavy and thick on my skin and absorbs faster and better. I am also happy to note that zinc dioxide and titanium dioxide, which are the most common chemical sunscreen ingredients, are high up on the product’s ingredient list, as well as a whole slew of herbal and fruit extracts like aloe, bergamot, lemon, lime, sunflower seed and more.
Thanks to Google and my Korean colleagues, apparently the infographic above states that the sunscreen contains “20 kinds of vegetable ingredients to protect skin” along with (from left) dwarf ground sedge extract and sunflower seeds, acai berry and acerola, Portulaca oleracea (purslane), Centella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort) and mistletoe leaves, aloe vera, cactus and hyaluronic acid.
The more fluid texture a.k.a the “airy finish” of this sunscreen makes my morning skincare routine easier and faster. With my old Neutrogena sunscreen, I had to wait about 15 minutes for the thick cream to be fully absorbed by my skin before I could apply the next product. With the Sunprise Mild Airy Finish, the milk sinks in quickly and dries matte in less than 10 minutes. I can then apply my BB cream or foundation. I can even skip the primer!
I don’t usually reapply my sunscreen, mainly because I’m indoors most of the time, but studies have shown that you can still get sun exposure even when inside. I’m not so keen on reapplying a very thick sunscreen all over my face. With this new sunscreen though, I’m more inclined to keep up with the program.
The watery texture spreads and absorbs easily. You can just finish with a liquid or powder foundation or BB/CC cream of your choice!
Etude House is one of the Korean brands that’s well known for its cute packaging, and this sunscreen certainly does not disappoint when it comes to looking good on your bathroom counter and in Instagram posts. The bottle comes in a minty green color with a white twist-off cap, and you have better control of the amount of sunscreen you dispense because of the small tip. At 55ml with a retail price of less than US$14, you’ll really want to get all the goodness of this sunscreen on your face, and you’ll want to hoard several bottles too. You know, just in case. And remember, the best anti-aging solution is putting on sunscreen regularly!
Check out the rest of Etude House’s Sunprise sunscreen collection.