Skincare Simplified: Korean Sunscreen

Skincare Simplified: Korean Sunscreen

There’s never a bad time to learn about sunscreen! Using sunscreen is important for maintaining healthy skin, preventing skin cancer and general sun damage. We’ll guide you through the different types of sunscreen, what you should be looking for, and some of our favourites that we stock at Aigoo. 

HOW do sunscreens work? 

Most of the rays that reach the earth from the sun are UVA rays - a small percentage are UVB rays. Whilst UV rays are vital for the production of Vitamin D, they can also damage your skin. UVB rays penetrate the upper layer of your skin, the epidermis, and causes sunburn, which may later accumulate as skin cancer. UVA rays penetrate the lower layer of the skin, the dermis, and can contribute to photoaging. 

The ingredients that prevent sun damage are referred to as UV filters. There are two types of UV filters: physical/mineral and chemical

Physical filters reflect UV rays away from the face - the most common ones you’ll find are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Chemical filters, on the other hand, absorb the UV rays. Some only absorb UVA or UVB rays, so make sure your sunscreen is labelled as ‘broad-spectrum’ - this means it protects against both types of rays. 

Sunscreens may contain only physical/chemical filters, or a combination of both. 

WHY Korean sunscreen?

There’s two main reasons why Korean sunscreens are particularly beloved. One is their access to a wider array of sunscreen filters. In countries like the US, the FDA approval process is so strict that there hasn’t been a new filter approved since 1999. In Korea, however, these testing processes are more streamlined yet rigorous, resulting in a more diverse and innovative range of filters. 

Korean formulas also tend to have a thinner, more pleasant texture, along with additional benefits such as hydrating and soothing products. 

WHAT to look for:

  1. Performance - Look at the SPF and PA ratings on your sunscreen. SPF (Sun Protection Factor) measures protection against UVB rays, whilst PA (Protection Grade of UVA) measures protection against UVA. The higher the number, the better protection you’ll receive. 
  2. Texture - Do you like your sunscreens rich? Or do you prefer them thin? 
  3. Smell - Do you like the smell of sunscreen? Or would you prefer them to be lightly fragranced? (This is also essential for those whose skin is sensitive to fragrance in formulas.)
  4. White cast - As a general rule of thumb, physical sunscreens are more likely to leave a white cast than chemical sunscreens. Whilst every sunscreen varies in how much of a cast it will leave, always make sure to test before you buy! 

Aigoo’s picks 

Benton's Skin Fit Mineral Sun Cream

UV filters: Titanium dioxide, Zinc oxide

SPF/PA rating: SPF50+, PA++++

Other benefits: Rosemary-scented, niacinamide (brightening, wrinkle care)

Why we love this: Although it’s a mineral sunscreen, the Benton sunscreen doesn’t leave that gross white cast. It’s the perfect all-rounder sunscreen for those dipping their toes into Korean skincare!

COSRX's Aloe Soothing Sun Cream

UV filters: Titanium dioxide, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Phenylbenzimidazole Sulfonic Acid, Isoamyl p-Methoxycinnamate

SPF/PA rating: SPF50+, PA+++

Other benefits: A fresh, light scent, a smooth texture, Aloe arborescens leaf extract (soothing)

Why we love this: This is one of K-beauty’s most famous sunscreens, and for good reason! Not only does it smell delicious, it’s super lightweight, and excellent for those who are particularly prone to feeling burnt and raw by the sun. 

ISNTREE's Hyaluronic Acid Natural Sun Cream

UV filters: Zinc oxide 

SPF/PA rating: SPF50+, PA++++

Other benefits: Hyaluronic acid (moisturising)

Why we love this: For those who are worried about applying sunscreen on dry, flaky skin, ISNTREE’s product is a great fit. Hyaluronic acid is a wonderful humectant - pulling water from the outside into your skin - which will keep your skin feeling plump and nourished. 

BONUS: Nature Republic's Soothing & Moisture Aloe Vera 92% Soothing Gel

Why we love this: The Nature Republic Soothing Gel isn’t a sunscreen, but it’s a fantastic accompaniment to your sunscreen if you are really sunburned. Aloe Vera will help your skin stop from cracking and soothe the hot, burning feeling of your skin. Apply underneath your sunscreen to feel the difference.

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