In Korean culture, girls are taught at a young age the importance of protecting their skin. That's why you'll see so many women carrying umbrellas on sunny days, or why the sunscreen section in Korean pharmacies and grocery stores seems to contain more products than all the other beauty aisles combined. And these aren't your basic drugstore sunscreens. Featuring skin-specific formulas made with innovative ingredients and advanced beauty technologies, the options are literally endless, which is great news for anyone searching for the best Korean sunscreen for sensitive skin.
For a quick lesson, UVA and UVB rays are the two types of UV radiation that enter the atmosphere and contribute to skin damage on a daily basis, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. UVA rays create the skin damage you don't immediately see, such as sun spots and skin cancer, while UVB rays show up in the form of sunburn. In the U.S., the SPF label only refers to your level of protection from UVB rays. While broad spectrum sunscreens provide coverage from both types of rays, they don't actually show how much UVA protection you're getting.
Korean sunscreens on the other hand, show exactly how much UVA coverage you get using PA signs (the amount of + signs indicate the level of UVA protection). According to K-beauty site Glow Recipe, PA++++ is the highest level of UVA protection on the market, so ideally — and this is especially important if you have sensitive skin — look for a sunscreen that has a rating of at least PA+++.
In addition to a high PA rating, sensitive skin types will want to look for a sunscreen that's free of common synthetic ingredients, like dyes and fragrance. And if you have skin prone to redness or irritation, a formula that contains soothing ingredients will be key (while acne-prone skin types stay away from oil, which will likely trigger a breakout). Mineral sunscreens, like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, tend to be less irritating than chemical sunscreens, though you can find some great exceptions to the rule, especially in the case of Korean beauty.
Ahead, find three of the best sunscreens for sensitive skin, K-beauty edition.
1. The Overall Best Korean Sunscreen For Sensitive Skin
Though the Like I’m Five Mild Sunscreen is a great choice for people of all ages, it was created with the sensitive skin of babies and children in mind, so you know it's extremely gentle. Using mineral ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, it provides SPF 50/PA++++ protection from UVA and UVB rays. The formula is free of most common irritants and allergens — parabens, mineral oil, artificial coloring, artificial fragrance, and hazardous substances — but it also contains moisturizers and skin-soothers, like centella asiatica and houttuynia cordata.
2. Best Korean Sunscreen For Sensitive, Acne-Prone Skin
Acne-prone skin types, whether they tend to run oily or dry, will love this SPF 50 sunscreen from PURITO. Unlike the other sunscreens on this list, it's a chemical sunscreen — but that doesn't mean it's not a good choice for sensitive skin. The formula contains centella asiatica and hyaluronic acid to hydrate, and since it's oil-free, it won't clog your pores (and thereby cause breakouts). It's also cruelty-free, vegan, and made with EWG green-grade ingredients; plus, it has a rare 4.6-star overall rating on Amazon.
"Even with my sensitive, rosacea prone skin, I do not find it irritating or aggravating in the least," says one reviewer. Another writes, "Besides the main functionality, it does calm my sensitive, prone to redness skin. No white cast and no allergic reactions."
3. Best Korean Sunscreen For Irritated Skin
This innovative Korean sunscreen is infused with a host of soothing ingredients that are known for their calming and anti-inflammatory properties. In the formula, calamine powder works to immediately alleviate irritation, while green tea, calendula, and centella asiatica extracts provide further skin-calming benefits. The mineral sunblock has an SPF of 50+/PA++++, which is offered in the form of zinc and titanium dioxide, and it's free of parabens and propylene glycol, though you will find fragrance at the very end of the ingredients list.
Because this sunscreen has a subtle pink tint from the calamine, which softens the overall appearance of irritated skin, it's best suited for fairer complexions. However, it also comes in two other sensitive skin-friendly versions that work for all skin tones: blue, which is hydrating and has a gel texture; and yellow, a lightweight, calming cream.
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