Koreans and their dewy, glass-like skin— with the audacity to go out and fearlessly face the harsh sunlight!
While sunscreens are only popular during the summer season in some parts of the world, Koreans, on the other hand, keep sunscreen as a part of their 10-step skincare routine.
Korean sunscreens are very much different than the usual greasy creams that leave white residues you think of when talking about sunscreen. They are light, available in various forms and quite effective— just take a look at Koreans and you’ll have the proof.
But, what if you got sensitive, oily and prone to acne breakouts skin? Well, there are the best Korean sunscreens for acne-prone skin, promising a lightweight and non-pore-blocking formulation that you and your skin will surely love!
Important Factors To Consider
With Korean sunscreens in high demand nowadays, there are hundreds of brands available making it difficult for you to choose the right one for your sensitive skin. So, when on the market to shop for Korean sunscreen, here are some factors that you need to look for.
Sunscreen, as its name implies, help protect your skin from the harmful sun. Thus, it needs a good amount of sun protection on its formula.
And for the first time buyers, Korean sunscreens have quite confusing labels, but not that difficult to understand.
First off, there is the UVA and UVB factor. UVA or Ultraviolet A can reach deeply into your skin and the main problem for skin sagging, wrinkles and fine lines. UVB or Ultraviolet B, on the other hand, is the main culprit for skin inflammations and causes skin issues such as blemishes, ugly spots, and freckles.
The Sun Protection Factor or SPF comes with a number and this refers to the protection that you will get from the UVB rays. PA or Protection Grade, on the other hand, is followed by the plus (+) sign and it is the protection you will get against UVA rays.
Thus, the higher the SPF number and the more PA + on the label, the higher the protection you can get from the harmful UV rays.
Next, you will need to look closely for ingredients in the sunscreen. Natural and organic ingredients are still the best for sensitive skin. Meanwhile, ensure that you stay away from harmful chemicals such as parabens, artificial colors, synthetic fragrances and more that can further irritate and cause acne breakouts.
The most effective ingredients you need for acne-free skin include:
Also known as the Ethylhexyl Salicylate, this organic compound is used to absorb the full range of UVB rays and protect the skin from the harmful effects of sunlight exposure. Furthermore, it is an FDA-approved ingredient and is unlikely to cause any allergic reactions.
This is a generally safe ingredient which helps protect against the full spectrum of UVA and UVB rays. It can be used on delicate and sensitive skin and even used as the main ingredient in most diaper rash creams.
It is also FDA-approved and can start protecting your skin after application. However, this ingredient tends to wear off easily than others, so it is recommended to be applied more frequently.
Another FDA-approved ingredient, this one helps protect your skin from UVB rays. The problem, however, is that a small group of people tends to have problems with this ingredient. If you have acne breakout from physical sunscreens and mineral makeup, then titanium dioxide can be the culprit.
Meanwhile, some ingredients that can worsen your already acne-prone skin include:
This organic compound belongs to the chemical class salicylates which help in preventing direct skin exposure to the harmful rays of the sun by absorbing UV light. This compound is usually found in your mother’s milk and can disrupt the hormone system, particularly the endocrine system which is responsible for the regulation of cell and organ activity.
This ingredient helps in absorbing UVB and short rays of UVA. Despite its sun protective abilities, however, it has been shown to deeply penetrate the skin and cause photosensitivity and other allergic reactions.
Mainly used to absorbs and filter UVB octinoxate helps protect the skin from sun damage and sunburn. However, rather than staying on top, this ingredient is rapidly absorbed by the skin and cause the disruption of hormones.
Form and Texture
Korean sunscreens are available in various textures and form. These include:
The traditional sunscreen formulation, lotion sunscreens are the heavyweight and sticky products that you might have used on your last beach adventure.
But, for Korean products, this kind of sunscreen does not leave any white cast on your skin and feels greasy, thick, and uncomfortable when going for a swim.
MILK AND CREAM SUNSCREEN
Quite similar to lotion sunscreens, milk, and cream sunscreens have this milky texture but with a more lightweight and fluid consistency. They give you this highly moisturized feeling without being thick and greasy on the touch.
Like lotion sunscreens, they do take a while to sink on your skin and can be quite comfortable to use in humid environments.
The Korean gel sunscreens have the milky and watery gel formula that is often lightweight and transparent, making it suitable for those with oily and acne-prone skin. They are so refreshing to the skin and penetrates deeply in just a few seconds.
If you are not into the slick and greasy feeling of lotion, then gel sunscreens are your best bet and also a great choice to wear under makeups.
Essence has the most numerous Korean sunscreen variety and features a serum-like consistency. Essence is much thicker than the gel types, however they are not as watery and runny.
They come in various versions such as watery essence, bb essence, and whitening essence. Although lightweight, these are generally the most moisturizing and hydrating in the Korean sunscreen line-up, making them great for those with oily and acne-prone skin that still needs a bit of healthy hydration without dripping in oil.
A great option for those always on the go, stick sunscreens are easily absorbed into the skin and requires only a few swipes on your face for UV protection. They come in compact and small packaging that can fit in even your smallest bag so you can take it anywhere for quick touch-ups.
Ever watched Korean dramas with people spraying something on their face before going out? Those are UV sprays and they are quite popular for one thing— quick sun protection top-ups.
These sunscreens come in aerosol cans that you spray on your face and skin to refresh your sun protection instantly, offering a veil-like layer of protection. They are lightweight and quite refreshing to use on a hot, sunny day.
In addition, spray sunscreens are liquid which contain mattifying ingredients that turn into powders when dried to top off makeups.
A great option for those who are always on the go, a stick sunscreen does not need to be blended in since it is easily absorbed by the skin. You only need to swipe it on your face and you are done.
It usually comes in compact packaging so that it can fit any bags and taken anywhere for easy touch-ups.
Oil sunscreens are not recommended for those with already oily faces but are suitable when the colder season kicks in. They provide better moisturization and hydration than most sunscreens, giving your face and even body that subtle, dewy glow.
And even though it is recommended for those with dry skin only, those with oily skin can also benefit from oil sunscreens with lightweight consistency.
Sunscreens are divided into two categories— physical and chemical.
The physical sunscreens are known as the mineral sunscreens which helps protect the skin by blocking and reflecting the UV rays. Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, actually absorbs the UV rays and prevent them from penetrating your skin.
In addition, physical sunscreens can block both UVB and UVA rays, while chemical sunscreen can only give protection against one. Lastly, some sunscreens are formulated with both physical and chemical ingredients, providing you total protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays.
If you got an acne-prone skin that needs sun protection, then you will need to look out for sunscreens that have a non-comedogenic formulation. This means that the sunscreen is formulated without ingredients that can cause pore blockages and breakouts.
Water-resistant VS Waterproof
Korean sunscreens are usually labeled waterproof or water-resistant. However, no sunscreen is ever formulated to be waterproof or sweatproof as manufacturers actually claim them to be.
Sunscreens should be able to last for only 40 – 80 minutes with sweat and swimming activity. In general, sunscreens will need to be reapplied at least every two hours in order to get better protection.
Our Top Pick for The Best Korean Sunscreens For Acne-Prone Skin
#1 Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Milk Sunscreen
With 4.2-star rating and over 1,000 reviews on Amazon alone, the Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Milk Sunscreen from reputable Korean skincare brand Etude House is Amazon’s Choice for “Korean Sunscreen.”
It features a non-greasy and non-sticky formulation with a smooth finish you will love. The milky consistency won’t give you the greasy feeling and will not clog your pores and cause acne breakouts.
It features 100% mineral components that get absorbed by the skin quickly and has a matte finish with all-natural scent. It has strong sun protection with its SPF50+ PA+++ for full-spectrum sun protection without leaving a white cast on your skin.
#2 THANKYOU FARMER Sun Project Shimmer Sun Essence
This unique, one-of-a-kind essence sunscreen from THANKYOU FARMER helps protect your skin while offering an anti-aging and brightening effect. The Sun Project Shimmer Sun Essence can make your skin sparkle with the slight pink pearl tint that makes you look radiant and glowing.
Boasting natural ingredients, this sun essence is generally suitable for all skin types from normal, to oily and acne-prone skin, to combination skin. It contains adenosine, honey, rose and niacinamide that brightens, hydrates and restores your skin.
With SPF30 and PA++ sun protection, this sun essence can be used with a makeup foundation or primer, creating a moisturizing finish. In addition, t contains no harmful chemicals such as silicone oil, parabens, artificial coloring and more, so it is safe to use on sensitive skins.
#3 Missha All-Around Safe Block Sun Milk
Another popular Korean sunscreen, the Missha All-Around Safe Block Sun Milk helps improve the appearance of your skin with its smoothing properties. Advertised as a waterproof sunscreen, this one can stand up against sweat and water for at least 80 minutes.
This sunscreen easily absorbed into your skin in just seconds with its lightweight, milky consistency without leaving any greasy white film behind. It also contains Titanium Dioxide as well as zinc oxide that helps create a matte finish.
With SPF50+ and PA+++, this sunscreen protects you from the sun while deeply hydrating the skin without the oily feeling, making it great for your face and body. In addition, it contains skin-soothing, non-comedogenic botanical ingredients that are safe on your skin and does not cause pore blockage.
#4 A’PIEU PURE BLOCK Daily Sun Cream
The PURE BLOCK Daily Sun Cream from reputable Korean brand A’PIEU is an award-winning and high-quality sunscreen that is available in such a cheap and affordable price. What makes it highly attractive to those with sensitive and acne-prone skin is its natural formulation.
This Korean sunscreen boasts hydrating and nutrient-rich components from botanical extracts such as peach, desert watermelon, orange flower, aloe extract, damson flower, pomegranate, lime flower, apple blossom, and raspberry. These ingredients also provide the sunscreen’s wonderful fruity scent that lasts for a day.
With creamy and milky texture, this sunscreen does not have a sticky and greasy feeling, unlike the heavier sunscreens. With SPF45 and PA+++ grading, this sunscreen also offers good protection against sun damage. It produces a thin white layer which gets absorbed by the skin easily while preventing oils from building up and causing acne breakouts, making it suitable for those with oily and acne-prone skin.
#5 The Face Shop No Shine Hydrating Sun Cream
For a Korean sunscreen with excellent sebum control without pore blockage and hydrating solution, this No Shine Hydrating Sun Cream from popular Korean brand The Face Shop is tried and tested. It is a water-based Korean sunscreen made from natural ingredients and is best suited for acne-prone skin and sensitive skins.
It features powerful ingredients such as salvia Hispanic seed extract, Korean cotton seed extract, and sunflower sprout extract that helps in controlling and managing secretion of oil from the skin and prevents the clogging of pores. Not only that, the watery textures gets easily absorbed into the skin without the heavy and greasy feeling.
Offering SPF40 and PA+++ sun protection, you get to go out for extended time without worrying about skin damages. With a lightweight consistency, this sunscreen is super hydrating that keeps your skin feeling moisturized even on the driest and sunniest days.
#6 Dr. Jart+ UV Every Sun Day
Although it is not quite popular on Amazon, Dr. Jart+ UV Every Sun Day is quite popular in the Korean world thanks to its effective sunscreen protection. With SPF50+ and PA+++ protection, this sunscreen helps protect you from the harmful UV rays while offering a matte finish that gets absorbed by the skin instantly, leaving you with a healthier and fresher complexion.
It does not leave a white cast on the skin or even tiny beads that requires time to spread all over your face before applying your makeup and primer. In addition, the sunscreen also uses a combo of both physical blockers such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide and chemical ingredients for full sun protection.
#7 COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream
This amazing sunscreen from popular Korean brand COSRX helps in calming and soothing red, irritable and acne-prone skin. AS its name suggests, this sunscreen features 5,500 ppm Aloe Leaf Extract that deeply hydrates and protects your skin from sun damage.
It also has a neutral pH level that helps increase cell regeneration while also improving the skin’s natural moisture barrier. Not only that, but it also has an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial property that makes it more effective for those with extra sensitive or sun0damaged skin.
In addition, because aloe lead extract has a good amount of water stored, this sunscreen has a watery consistency, which makes it suitable for oily and acne-prone skin. It has SPF50+ and PA+++ sun protection grading so you have strong protection from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays. Acting as a sunscreen and moisturizer in one, this product does not leave white cast behind and comes at an affordable price tag.
#8 ACWELL Dermild Airy Sun Control Stick
The ACWELL Dermild Airy Sun Control stick comes in a refreshing texture that you can apply on your skin without leaving behind a white cast or the sticky and oily feeling. Its transparent formula allows you to apply it multiple times without your skin feeling heavy and clogging your pores.
Mild and safe, this stick sunscreen has gone through dermal tests and can be used for sensitive skins without irritating and causing and allergic reactions. With its powerful sun protection of SPF50+ and PA++++, this sunscreen helps you enjoy the great outdoors without worries.
And since it comes in a portable and small package of stick, you get to carry it with you and apply as needed.
#9 MAKEP:REM UV Defense Me Blue Ray Gel Sunscreen
An innovative sunscreen formula from MAKEP:REM, the UV Defense Me Sun Gel features the highest sun protection grade SPF50+ and PA++++ that helps protect your skin from the harsh sun rays.
It features natural ingredients that help lower your skin temperature by up to 4.7 percent, keeping it cool and refreshed as well as soothing and calming burnt or irritated skin. In addition, it has the Rubus Articus which is a wild berry from Finland that helps in improving skin issues thanks to its antioxidant properties.
The sunscreen deeply hydrates the skin while offering a dewy glow with anti-wrinkle and whitening properties, making this one of the best multi-tasking Korean sunscreens around. Not only that, it also features 68 percent moisture essence that protects the skin from heat aging. In addition, the water holding technology creates a pure water essence consistency that gets absorbed by the skin instantly without blocking your pores and leaving a sticky, greasy feeling.
#10 COSRX Shield Fit All Green Comfort Sun Scream
Another great product from COSRX, the Shield Fit all Green Comfort Sunscreen is formulated with EWG All-Green Grade ingredients that are totally safe and gentle on sensitive skins, protecting you from outer stress while leaving a matte and soft finish.
It features the “Mild Comfort System” which is a unique formula of Nymphaea Alba Flower Extract and Centella Asiatica Extract that soothes irritable skin and reduced redness and bumps. Meanwhile, the Artemisia Caillaris Extract offers protection from fine dust as well as other external stressors.
In addition, the weightless cream consistency helps control sebum and oil production and smoothens that skin without clogging your pores, making it suitable for those with acne-prone skin. For sun protection, the sun cream has the highest sun grading of SPF50+ and PA++++.
#11 NEOGEN DERMALOGY Daylight Protection Sunscreen
This sunscreen from NEOGEN has a superior formulation enriched with antioxidant ECO-certified ingredients such as Blueberry extract, Rose extract, vitamin E derivatives, Gentiana extract and Beta-glucan which deeply nourish your skin.
With SPF50+ and PA+++, this sunscreen has a lightweight consistency that effectively protects your skin from the sun without leaving a greasy and oily feeling. Plus, it does not clog your pores so you do not have to worry about acne breakouts.
It also safe and gentle on the skin which calms irritated breakouts and promotes a refreshed and healthy-looking skin. Not only that, it is also free of 23 kinds of harmful ingredients such as mineral oil, sulfate, alcohol, parabens, and silicone.
#12 Earth’s Recipe Waterful Sun Gel
For the oily skin that always clogs pores and causes acne breakouts, the Erath’s Recipe Waterful Sun Gel is another great product to try. It has a serum-like and waterful gel consistency that makes for a weightless application.
It delivers high sun protection formulation of SPF50+ and PA+++ that easily absorbs into your skin and does not leave a greasy feeling, making it suitable to wear under makeups and foundations. Formulated with S. Pellegrino Sparkling water and other natural minerals, this sunscreen offers long-lasting protection and hydration.
The sunscreen also boasts a refreshing aqua scent that fades away natural after 5 or 10 minutes from application, making it suitable for individuals who do not like lingering strong scents. Hypoallergenic and tested by dermatologist, this sunscreen is made without harmful chemicals such as PABA, mineral oils and artificial dyes and fragrances, making it suitable for any type of skin from normal to oily and acne-prone skin, to combination skin and even for baby’s delicate skin.
Sunscreen is the most essential step in your daily skincare routine. Wearing sunscreen keeps you looking younger while protecting your precious skin from the harmful sun when going out.
And regardless of how sensitive your skin is, the best Korean sunscreen from the list above will definitely ensure a healthy, acne-free skin.