Top Korean Sunscreens: Benefits, Ingredients, and Why They're Worth the Hype

Korean skincare has taken the world by storm, and at the heart of this revolution lies the highly praised Korean sunscreens. Known for their innovative, elegant formulations and effective protection, these sunscreens have become a staple in beauty routines across the globe. But what makes them so special? Let’s dive into the world of Korean sunscreens to uncover their secrets.

The Rise of Korean Sunscreen

The obsession with flawless skin isn’t new in Korea. For centuries, Korean beauty rituals have emphasized the importance of clear, healthy skin. The Joseon Dynasty, which ruled Korea for over 500 years, set the precedent for skincare with its focus on using natural ingredients and skincare over makeup. Today, this tradition continues with modern Korean sunscreens that blend ancient practices with cutting-edge technology.

Unique Ingredients in Korean Sunscreens

One of the standout features of Korean sunscreens is their unique ingredient lists. Many of these sunscreens are formulated with rice extract, green tea, and niacinamide. Rice extract, known as “Beauty Water” during the Joseon Dynasty, is celebrated for its brightening and antioxidant properties. Green tea provides powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, while niacinamide (Vitamin B3) helps manage oil production and improve skin texture. These ingredients work together to provide not only sun protection but also additional skincare benefits.

Advanced UV Filters in Korean Sunscreens

Korean sunscreens often contain advanced UV filters like:

  • Ethylhexyl Triazone – a new generation sunscreen that gives the highest photo-stable absorption of all available UVB filters.
  • Uvinul A Plus – A UVA filter that also provides protection from free radicals
  • Uvinul T 150 – a highly effective filter that protects against UVB rays
  • Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl Tetramethylbutylphenol (Tinisorb M) – High-performance broad-spectrum UV filter (reflects both UVA and UVB rays before they reach the surface of the skin.

Unlike some of the older filters approved by the US FDA, these newer filters are less likely to cause irritation and are often more effective. This is why many people prefer Korean sunscreens for their daily protection.

The Sun Protection Factor Rating Systems

UVA rays are longer-wave and penetrate more deeply into the skin, possibly affecting genetic material leading to onset of cancer. Think “A” for aging since UVA rays are attributed to advancing the visible signs of aging and think “B” for burning since UVB rays are typically shorter-wave rays that burn the surface of the skin.

The US uses SPF, which focuses on UVB light and measures how protected you are from burning.

South Korea uses the PA (Protection Grade of UVA) system, which focuses on UVA light and measures how protected you are from developing pigmentation.

There are four grades in the PA system: PA+, PA++, PA+++, and PA++++

Each plus sign denotes higher protection from UVA so while you’re shopping, look out for sunscreen bottles with as many plus signs as possible. Some US brands have adopted this rating system too, and that’s why you’ll see a range of PA+ to PA++++ on the packaging of some sunscreens. 

How to Use and Apply Korean Sunscreen

To get the most out of your Korean sunscreen, it’s crucial to apply it correctly. Just as with any sunscreen, use about a nickel-sized amount for your face and ensure you cover all exposed areas. Reapply every two hours, especially if you’re spending time outdoors. Incorporating sunscreen into your daily routine can significantly improve your skin’s health and appearance over time.

Top Recommended Korean Sunscreens

There are countless Korean sunscreens on the market, but some stand out more than others. Here are a few top-rated options:

  • Beauty of Joseon Relief Sun SPF50+ PA++++: Packed with rice extract and grain fermented extracts, this sunscreen offers intense hydration and antioxidant protection.

    The first Korean sunscreen I tried and loved. It made me get it. The lightweight texture us the theme of elegance for sunscreens from Korea.
  • Purito Centella Green Level Unscented Sun SPF50+ PA++++: Known for its soothing properties and lightweight texture, it’s perfect for sensitive skin.
  • Missha All Around Safe Block Soft Finish Sun Milk SPF50+ PA+++: This sunscreen provides a matte finish, making it ideal for oily skin types.

    The only sunscreen Chase will wear daily so it’s my pick for those who are sensitive to textures and smells of products on skin!

Each of these sunscreens is formulated with high-quality ingredients that cater to various skin needs, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

How is Korean sunscreen different from those in the US?

Two main things set Korean sunscreens apart— superior ingredients to block the sun and typically leave less white cast, which leads to the second difference of a more elegant formulation offers more convenient reapplication

The truth is South Korea (and Europe for that matter) have a range of UV filters that aren’t approved in the US. This part of the conversation is where you’ll hear a lot of controversy and opinions about the FDA.

Buying Korean Sunscreens in the US

While some UV filters in Korean sunscreens aren’t approved by the FDA, many consumers in the US still seek out these products. You can find them on online marketplaces like Amazon and other Korean beauty retailers, like Stylevana. Some brands also create reformulated versions for the US market, using FDA-approved filters but maintaining the essence of their original formulas.

Affordability and Accessibility

One of the best things about Korean sunscreens is their affordability. Despite their advanced formulations and high-quality ingredients, many of these sunscreens are priced under $20. This makes them accessible to a broader audience, allowing more people to experience their benefits without breaking the bank.

Have you tried any Korean sunscreens?

Korean sunscreens offer a unique blend of traditional skincare wisdom and modern scientific advancements. Their innovative ingredients and effective UV filters make them a top choice for anyone looking to protect their skin while enjoying additional skincare benefits. If you haven’t tried a Korean sunscreen yet, now is the perfect time to see what all the hype is about.

Whether you're lounging on the beach or sitting by a sunlit window at your desk, daily sunscreen use, no matter where you are, significantly reduces your risk of skin cancer and helps prevent fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and those pesky sun spots

If you're aiming for around-the-clock protection, Korean sunscreens should be on your radar. 

These versatile and hardworking SPF options are renowned for their advanced, elegant formulas that make sun protection effortless and effective. 

The best part: Korean sunscreens often cost just 15 or 20 dollars, and they work amazingly well.