(Last Updated On: April 24, 2018)

Tired of sweating incessantly under the sunscreen blanket you’ve had to put all over yourself?

Grateful for sun protection but not impressed with the oily feeling your sunscreen leaves on skin?

There is a way for you to enjoy protection from the harmful effects of sunrays while avoiding the pitfalls associated with many Western sunscreens, like white marks, a greasy feeling and so on.

In accordance with the Korean notions of beauty, K-Sunscreen, or Korean sunscreens are aimed at imparting a fresh, dewy look while performing the basic sunscreen function of sun protection.

To help you choose a good Korean sunscreen, we at Unsullyd reviewed over ten very popular products to come up with the best Korean sunscreens.

At A Glance: The 5 Best Korean Sunscreens

Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Sun Milk SPF50+/PA+++ offers great sun protection and can even act as a base for your makeup.

Biore Sarasara UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence Sunscreen SPF50+/PA++++ has an enjoyable light consistency and can moisturize your skin.

Cosrx SPF 50 Aloe Soothing Sun Cream is excellent at sun protection and can also act as a base for your makeup.

Missha All Around Safe Block Soft Finish Sun Milk SPF50+/PA+++ has a good mattifying finish and is very easy to apply and remove.

Shiseido Senka Aging Care UV Sunscreen SPF50+/PA++++ has a somewhat heavier creamy consistency.

01. Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Sun Milk SPF50+/PA+++ Review

First things first, this is a mineral sunscreen with Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. That means it may leave some white marks on your skin.

However any marks it may leave are quite light and should not affect your look much.

Coming to the main issue of sun damage, our assessment is that it works quite well.

It protects your skin from getting burned, regardless of whether it’s dry or you’re exposed to water or sweat.

It’s mild on the skin and has a light consistency. There is no danger of the goopy or greasy feeling many sunscreens have.

From the P.O.V. of makeup it does the job of a base very well. Sits very well under makeup and does not disturb it.

Due to the matte and light finish it may even help project makeup.

We would only advise not using any separate primer. This includes a number of silicones (which means it’s a semi-primer by itself) and it can cause primer to pill up.

The main ingredients are listed below.

Active Ingredients – Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide.

SolventWater, Alcohol
EmollientCyclopentasiloxane, Dicaprylyl Ether, Echium plantagineum Seed Oil, Adansonia digitata Seed Oil, Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) seed oil, Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil Unsaponifiables, Methicone, Aluminum Hydroxide, Caprylyl Glycol, Octyldodecanol, Dimethicone, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Caprylate
Viscosity controllingDipropylene Glycol, Vinyl Dimethicone/Methicone Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, Cyclomethicone, Magnesium Sulfate, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Cellulose Gum
HumectantDipropylene Glycol, Hyaluronic Acid, Butylene Glycol
Skin conditioningAloe (barbadensis) Vera Leaf Juice, Centralla asiatica Extract, Eucalyptus globulus Leaf Oil, Cardiospermum halicacabum Flower/Leaf/Vine Extract, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone
AntioxidantAloe (barbadensis) Vera Leaf Juice, Portulaca oleracea Extract, Centralla asiatica Extract, Opuntia ficus-indica Extract, Lemon Peel Oil, Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Malpighia emarginata (Acerola) Fruit Extract, Terminalia ferdinandiana Fruit Extract
SoothingViscum album (Mistletoe) Leaf Extract, Portulaca oleracea Extract, Opuntia ficus-indica Extract
Skin brighteningCarex humilis Extract
FragranceBergamot Fruit Oil, Eucalyptus globulus Leaf Oil, Pinus sylvestris Leaf Oil, Citrus aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Citrus aurantium dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil
OpacifyingPolymethylsilsesquioxane, Aluminum Hydroxide
Preservative1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol
Skin protectantAluminum Hydroxide, Dimethicone
Film formingMethyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Cellulose Gum
EmulsifierStearic Acid, Glyceryl Caprylate, Polyglycerin-6 Polyricinoleate, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Cellulose Gum

What I Liked

Even though it is a mineral sunscreen it does not leave white marks on the skin.

Protects your skin from sun burns.

Reasonably water resistant.

Mild on the skin.

May even help project your makeup.

It should be washed off easily. You may need to use an oil-based cleanser however.

What I Didn’t Like

If you use a primer alongwith this sunscreen the primer may pill.

02. Biore Sarasara UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence Sunscreen SPF50+/PA++++ Review

Unlike many American sunscreens, this Korean sunscreen is quite light on the skin, almost watery.

So you will barely feel it and your makeup won’t be affected by it.

It does not leave any white marks on your skin. It should not stain your clothes either.

However it does not have a high degree of water resistance.

It should suffice for everyday circumstances but we would not recommend it for swimmers or those engaged in physical labor which can cause perspiration.

Under everyday circumstances sun protection seems good. Your skin should not burn or scar under sunrays.

It moisturizes your skin to a certain extent as well.

If you have normal skin this may suffice for keeping your skin soft but if you have dry skin you should apply a moisturizer before applying this.

On the other hand issues like acne should not be aggravated by it.

It has a citrus scent but that’s very light and should not affect anyone except the very sensitive users.

The main ingredients are listed below.

Active Ingredients – Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate (a.k.a. Octinoxate) and Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate

SolventWater, Alcohol
Film formingLauryl Methacrylate/Sodium Methacrylate Crosspolymer
EmollientDimethicone, Glyceryl Stearate
Film formingDimethicone, Polyvinyl Alcohol
Texture enhancerAcrylates/C10-30Alkyl Acrylates Crosspolymer
EmulsifierGlyceryl Stearate
Viscosity controllingAgar, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol
HumectantSodium Hyaluronate, Xylitol, Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol
Skin conditioningGrapefruit*, Sweet Orange***
AstringentGrapefruit*, Sweet Orange***
Skin brighteningLemon**
FragranceSweet Orange***
BufferSodium Hydroxide, Potassium Hydroxide
PreservativePhenoxyethanol, BHT
Chelating agentDisodium EDTA
* Citrus grandis.

** Citrus media limonum.

*** Citrus aurantium dulcis.

What I Liked

 Extremely light on the skin.

 Does not hamper makeup.

 Under normal conditions does a good job of protecting your skin from sunburn and other harmful effects.

 Moderately moisturizing.

 Does not aggravate issues like acne.

 Easily washed off alongwith other makeup.

What I Didn’t Like

We’d prefer it to be a little more water resistant.

If you have dry skin you should apply moisturizer before the sunscreen.

03. Cosrx SPF 50 Aloe Soothing Sun Cream Review

This sunscreen includes some Titanium Dioxide. You may notice a white cast when you’re applying it.

Don’t worry, give it 5 minutes to absorb; the white should fade out.

Coming to consistency, this is reasonably light.

It isn’t ‘watery’ like some of our other selected Korean sunscreens are but it definitely won’t goop onto your skin.

Which brings us to skin types. It will be a little oily on the skin and definitely moisturizes well.

Which makes it a sure shot for dry and normal skin. If you have oily skin however you may not enjoy it as much.

On the other hand we would greenlight this for users with skin issues like acne because it does not lead to breakouts or sensitize skin.

Talking of sensitizing, it has a light but definite scent. The average person should not be bothered but if you’re sensitive to scents, you may want to test it out before adopting it for regular use.

Coming to the key issue of sun protection, this does that job pretty well. Provided you re-apply every 2 hours you should not face any sunburns.

It’s reasonably resistant to water and perspiration though we would not suggest it for swimming or heavy activity.

The main ingredients are listed below.

Active Ingredients – Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate (a.k.a. Octinoxate), Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Phenylbenzimidazole Sulfonic Acid (a.k.a. ‘Ensulizole’), Isoamyl P-Methoxycinnamate and Titanium Dioxide.

SolventWater
HumectantGlycerin, Propylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol
Viscosity controllingPropylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Silica, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Aluminum Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum
EmollientCyclopentasiloxane, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Dimethicone, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Aluminum Hydroxide, Stearic Acid
CleanserPotassium Cetyl Phosphate, PEG-100 Stearate, Stearic Acid
AstringentAlcohol
Skin protectantDimethicone, Aluminum Hydroxide
EmulsifierGlyceryl Stearate, C14-22 Alcohols, Cetearyl Alcohol, C12-20 Alkyl Glucoside, Stearic Acid, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Triethanolamine
Film formingPolymethyl Methacrylate
Skin conditioningAloe Arborescens Leaf Extract, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Vitamin E*, Caprylyl Glycol, Xanthan Gum
AntioxidantVitamin E*
OpacifyingSilica, Aluminum Hydroxide
PreservativeCaprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol
Texture enhancerAcrylates/C10-30Alkyl Acrylates Crosspolymer
BufferTriethanolamine, Sodium Hydroxide
Chelating agentDisodium EDTA
* As Tocopheryl Acetate.

Directions

  • You should apply 30 minutes before sun exposure.
  • Re-apply as needed. Re-application every 2 hours is a good practice.

What I Liked

 Reasonably light texture.

 Good for normal and dry skin.

 Should not aggravate skin issues like acne.

 It can act as a good base for makeup.

 Easily washed off with any standard cleanser.

What I Didn’t Like

 May not work so well for oily skin.

We wouldn’t recommend it for swimming or any situation where you’re likely to sweat  heavily.

The price is on the higher side.

04. Missha All Around Safe Block Soft Finish Sun Milk SPF50+/PA+++ Review

This includes Titanium Dioxide but it’s referred to as ‘Cl 77891’, the pigment notation. Which probably means Titanium Dioxide is used as a pigment, for coloring rather than sunscreening.

Texture-wise this is quite good. It does not leave a sticky mess on the skin. On the other hand it isn’t so runny that it slithers right off.

Which makes it very convenient for putting on.

Removal isn’t too difficult either. One gentle cleanse with any standard makeup remover should suffice.

It should absorb clear for most people. If you have dark skin (for example African Americans) you may notice a slight white streak but nothing excessive. Definitely not enough to spoil photos (the so-called ‘flashback’ effect).

It’s got a mattifying or semi-mattifying finish and is perfect for oily and combination skin. Those with dry skin should use a moisturizer alongwith this.

There is a somewhat mild floral scent that some users may not like.

It is good for users with issues like acne because it definitely does not trigger breakouts.

Coming to the main point of sun protection, this definitely does the trick, resisting sunburns and keeping skin supple.

However, as with the other Korean sunscreens, it is not very waterproof and should not be used for swimming or if you’re likely to sweat a lot.

The main ingredients are listed below.

Active Ingredients – Zinc Oxide, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate (a.k.a. Octinoxate), Ethylhexyl Salicylate (a.k.a. Octisalate), Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine and Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate.

SolventWater
EmollientCyclopentasiloxane, Isopropyl Palmitate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Dimethicone, Aluminum Hydroxide, Stearic Acid, Lecithin, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Rhodiola Rosea Root Extract
Viscosity controllingSilica, Dipropylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Quaternium-18 Bentonite, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Magnesium Sulfate, Aluminum Hydroxide
OpacifyingSilica, Aluminum Hydroxide
EmulsifierLauryl PEG-10 Tris(Trimethylsiloxy)silylethyl Dimethicone, Stearic Acid, Lecithin, Isostearic Acid, Polyglyceryl-3 Polyricinoleate
HumectantButylene Glycol, Humectant
Skin conditioningCaprylyl Methicone, Helichrysum Arenarium Extract, Vitamin E*, Caprylyl Glycol, Limonia Acidissima Extract, Rosa Davurica Bud Extract, Aloe (Barbadensis) Vera Leaf Juice, Abronia Villosa Leaf Extract, Cinchona Succirubra Bark Extract, Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer
AstringentDenatured Alcohol
Skin protectantDimethicone, Aluminum Hydroxide, Rhodiola Rosea Root Extract
CleanserStearic Acid, Isostearic Acid
Film formingHydrogen Dimethicone, VP/Hexadecene Copolymer, Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer
PreservativePhenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Caprylyl Glycol
Slip modifierSilica Dimethyl Silylate
Chelating agentDisodium EDTA
AntioxidantVitamin E*, Rosa Davurica Bud Extract, Psidium Guajava Leaf Extract, Aloe (Barbadensis) Vera Leaf Juice, Rhodiola Rosea Root Extract
Suspending agentPolyhydroxystearic Acid
* As Tocopheryl Acetate.

Directions

  • You should reapply every 3 hours.
  • A pea-sized amount should suffice for your face.
  • If you want to apply all over your body, take as much sunscreen as you need to cover half your palm.

What I Liked

The texture is neither too runny nor too sticky.

It’s easily removed with any standard cleanser.

Mostly does not leave any white marks on the skin.

Yields a matte finish and is good for oily and combination skin.

Does not trigger breakouts.

Resists skin damage from sunrays and keeps skin soft.

What I Didn’t Like

Includes added fragrance which may put off some users.

Could be more resistant to water and perspiration.

If you have dry skin you should moisturize while using this sunscreen.

05. Shiseido Senka Aging Care UV Sunscreen SPF50+/PA++++ Review

Once again, being a chemical sunscreen this goes on clear and does not leave any marks on your skin or clothes.

If you like your sunscreen’s consistency more thick than liquid – more like a cream than a lotion – this offering from Shiseido Senka is your sunscreen.

It works well with makeup. Makeup won’t pill or not work well.

In fact, if you have oily skin, it can act as a primer. If your skin is on the drier side however you should use a separate primer.

If you have sensitive skin or are prone to breakouts however the verdict is mixed. We’d advise a patch test to check if this triggers breakouts.

There is another issue with breakouts – being on the greasier side, this may make your face shiny which would accentuate breakouts. Silica as an opacifying agent may not quite cut it.

So, if you do have or are prone to breakouts, use a good concealer.

Coming to the key issue of sun protection, this does a very good job of protecting against sunburn and other nasty issues. However this is not waterproof and should not be used if you’re swimming or liable to perspire heavily.

One more issue. This sunscreen may sting your eyes so we would suggest applying some other (physical sunscreens will never affect your eyes) sunscreen around your eyes if you face that problem.

The main ingredients are listed below.

Active Ingredients – Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate (a.k.a. Octinoxate), Polysilicone-15, Octocrylene, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate and t-Butylmethoxydibenzoylmethane (a.k.a. Avobenzone).

SolventWater
Viscosity controllingSilica, Cyclomethicone, Dipropylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Magnesium Chloride, Calcium Chloride, Agar
OpacifyingSilica
Skin conditioningCyclomethicone, Caprylyl Methicone, Polybutylene Glycol/PPG-9/1 Copolymer, Xanthan Gum, Ubiquinone, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Vitamin E*
AstringentAlcohol, Calcium Chloride
HumectantGlycerin, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate
EmollientDiisopropyl Sebacate
EmulsifierXanthan Gum, Beheneth-20, Carbomer
AntioxidantUbiquinone, BHT, Vitamin E*
BufferPotassium Hydroxide
PreservativePhenoxyethanol
* As Tocopherol.

What I Liked

 Goes on clear; no white marks on skin or clothes.

 Suitable for those who like a creamier sunscreen.

 Does not affect your makeup.

 If you have oilier skin it can act as a primer for makeup.

 Protects well against sunburns.

hat I Didn’t Like

 Not suitable for swimming or heavy physical labor (which would make you perspire heavily).

 May sting your eyes.

 May trigger breakouts; may emphasize existing breakouts.

What should you look for when you select a Korean sunscreen?

One thing to watch out for in a sunscreen would be if it has good antioxidants. Antioxidants have a role protecting the skin from photo-aging and complement most sunscreens wonderfully.

Vitamins C and E frequently occur in sunscreens. They complement the skin conditioning and antioxidant properties wonderfully.

Now we’ll define some of the properties of the ingredients and explain why they’re useful.

Skin conditioning, emollient and humectants ingredients keep skin lubricated and soft.

Antioxidants are typically used to resist phtotaging, wrinkling and environmental damage.

Film forming agents keep skin supple and can prevent roughness.

Skin protectants protect the skin from irritations.

Astringents keep pores within check.

Chelating agents bond with metallic ions to keep them from degrading products.

Emulsifiers force immiscible products to mix together similar to a solution.

Can you measure sun protection?

Indeed you can.

As you know, there are two kinds of sunrays we need protection from – UVA and UVB rays (classified by wavelength).

Globally, sunscreens are expected to disclose their SPF – Sun Protection Factor – which measures protection against UVB rays.

SPF Count% of UVB rays it protects you from
1593%
3097%
5098%
As you can see SPF 50 offers a lot of protection.

It doesn’t make much sense to go beyond SPF 50.

Coming to UVA rays, federal law just says sunscreens have to be ‘broad spectrum’ which means they must offer protection against UVA rays as well.

The EU has a directive saying that sunscreens must offer 1/3rd as much UVA protection as they do against UVB rays. But there is no metric of this protection.

However, our sunscreens here being Korean sunscreens, display the PA figure (which can go from PA+ to PA++++) to quantify UVA protection.

PA figures are based on a PPD (Persistent Pigment Darkening) test.

Now, let’s see which one would be our absolute first choice if we were sampling Korean sunscreens.

Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Sun Milk SPF50+/PA+++

One, we have a fondness for physical sunscreens because they’re more stable than chemical ones.

Two, it has a very light, almost watery consistency.

Three, inspite of being so light, it is reasonably water resistant (not waterproof though).

Four, it can act as a base for your makeup.

Five, it does the key job of sun protection very well.

Six, though we can’t guarantee it, we feel even those with acne-prone skin can use this.

 

Right, that’s it for the Unsullyd Korean Sunscreen Review.

If you know a Korean sunscreen that’s better than the one’s we’ve suggested, drop a comment.

Good suggestions may get a shout-out on Twitter and/or Facebook!

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