The perfect lightweight sunscreens to add to your summer skin care routine.
Sunscreen is an essential part of any skin care routine and should be applied every day, rain or shine, since the sun’s UV rays have the ability to penetrate through clouds. UV rays can also penetrate through glass, so it’s best to apply sunscreen even if you plan on spending most of your day indoors.
Sun protection is particularly emphasized in K-Beauty and Korean skin care, so it's no wonder that Korean sunscreens have earned a reputation for offering high SPF in lightweight and skin-friendly formulas. When choosing a sunscreen, it’s important to look for a broad spectrum sunscreen that can protect your skin against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, which can damage the skin by causing premature aging, sunburn and sun spots. Sunscreens also help even out your overall skin tone and fade dark spots.
Applying sunscreen is always the last step in a Korean skin care routine, particularly in a morning skin care regimen. Sunscreen should be applied after cleansing, toning, using serums or ampoules, and moisturizing your skin, and before your makeup. Remember that sunscreen can take up to 15 minutes to fully sink into your skin. To be sure that your skin is fully protected, it’s best to apply your sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before heading out in the sun.
Both Western and Korean sunscreens use the Sun Protection Factor, widely known as SPF, on their sunscreen labels. SPF measures the amount of protection you get against UVB rays, which causes sunburn. A higher SPF can block more of the sun’s rays. For instance, using sunscreen with SPF 30 permits 3% of UVB rays to hit your skin while using one with SPF 50 only allows 2%. Applying sunscreen with at least SPF 30 is recommended for everyday wear to shield the skin against damaging UV rays.
While both Western and Korean sunscreens include SPF in their packaging, Korean sunscreens also include the PA rating system, which ranges from PA+ to PA++++. PA measures the amount of protection against UVA rays, which are known to cause skin damage and cause the skin to turn brown. This process is called persistent pigment darkening (PPD). PA+ and PA++ offer light to moderate UVA protection and PA+++ and PA++++ offer higher UVA protection.
The main difference between Western and Korean sunscreens lies in the formulas. You’ll find that most Western sunscreens come in thicker and greasier formulas while Korean sunscreens offer lightweight consistencies that spread easily and don’t leave a white cast. K-Beauty is constantly innovating new beauty products, so you can find many different types of Korean sunscreens from sun essences and sun milks to sun gels and sun sticks. Besides creating sunscreens with lighter formulas, Korean skin care brands also often incorporate unique ingredients in their sunscreens, such as snail mucin, centella asiatica, madecassoside or aloe leaf extracts, for added skin care benefits.
Besides focusing on a sunscreen’s formula and protection factors, you should also consider your skin type when looking for a sunscreen. Whether you have oily, dry or sensitive skin, there is a right sunscreen that works for your skin type. Check out some of YesStyle’s best Korean sunscreens for your skin type below!
Korean sunscreens in a rich and creamy formula packed with hydrating ingredients are ideal for dry skin. COSRX’s Aloe Soothing Sun Cream, SKIN&LAB’s Fre-C Sun Lotion SPF50+ PA++++ and NEOGEN’s Dermalogy Day-Light Protection Sun Screen SPF50 PA+++ are some of our bestsellers for a reason. These sunscreens keep dry skin moisturized while protecting your skin against damaging UV rays. The Aloe Soothing Sun Cream from COSRX also works well for those with dry and sensitive skin, thanks to its aloe leaf extracts which boast cooling and soothing benefits for the skin.
Sun milks like MISSHA’s All-Around Safe Block Soft Finish Sun Milk SPF50+ PA+++ are also a great option for those with dry skin as they provide long-lasting hydration while still feeling light on the skin. On top of that, this sun milk is formulated with myrciaria dubia fruit extracts that brighten up your overall complexion.
Sun sticks and sun gels work great on oily as well as acne-prone skin. Sun gels from Korean skin care brands MISSHA, A’PIEU and make p:rem are perfect for everyday protection against the sun’s UV rays. These sun gels apply like a lightweight serum that won’t leave your skin feeling greasy at all. Sun gels also work well when used under makeup. If your skin is prone to acne, you can count on the UV Defense Me. Blue Ray Sun Gel SPF50+ PA++++ from make p:rem to protect your skin from the sun without leaving you with any new blemishes.
Sun sticks also come in handy if you have an oily complexion. There are plenty of Korean skin care brands offering sun sticks that are great for touch-ups and ideal for traveling. TOSOWOONG’s SOS Spot Whitening Vita Clinic Vitamin Sun Stick SPF50+ PA+++ is a top contender among Korean sun sticks. This trifunctional sun stick doesn’t just block the sun’s UVA and UVB rays but also brightens and nourishes the skin. To use a sun stick, gently swipe it across your face, and make sure not to rub it too hard on your skin to avoid irritation.
Korean skin care brand PURITO offers the ultimate sunscreen for those with sensitive skin. Formulated with hyaluronic acid, centella asiatica extract and tocopherol, PURITO’s Centella Green Level Safe Sun SPF50+ PA++++ delivers sun protection and hydration without irritating your skin. Its watery texture spreads easily and absorbs into the skin quickly without leaving a white cast or a sticky feeling. The unscented version of this sunscreen also features a non-irritant formula that’s gentle enough for sensitive skin.