Is Korean Sunscreen Different than Western Sunscreen?

We are in the heat of summer, and often times skin products can be annoying and tiresome due to the constant need to re-apply the products throughout the day. However, if there is one skin care product that is absolutely ESSENTIAL for summertime, what would you say it is? Obviously Sunscreen!!!

When the sun is out and the sun is beating down on our skin, we have to make sure we are protected. While we are all aware of how important sun protection is not only for our overall health, but also its anti-aging properties (if that’s one of your concerns). With so many options for sun protection, we don’t need to settle for the greasy white cast formulas that we all have used throughout our childhood.

The three letters that everyone thinks about when buying sunscreen is S P F—but what if I told you that you should be looking for other letters as well? SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is largely based on UVB protection, but when looking for sunscreen you should also be considering how effective the product is in blocking UVA rays as well. This is the key difference between Western and Korean sunscreens.


Formula Differences

As the US dominates the Western skin care market, chemicals used and manufactured by Western brands need to be approved by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) before they are able to be marketed and sold to consumers.

**Fun fact: An innovative sunscreen ingredient has not been FDA approved in the US since 1999—that’s 20+ years! This is a large reason as to why many people loathe putting on sunscreen—the dated formula that is thick, oily, and leaves that “sunscreen smell” that we all know too well.

The Korean FDA has approved many more kinds of SPF filters when comparing sunscreens to the US. Korea is constantly innovating new formulas to improve the texture, feel, wear, and protection of their sunscreen products; some can even add a dewy glow to your skin!


What about Protection? Isn't SPF coverage enough?

When many people are considering the switch to Korean sunscreen products, they often feel as if they are sacrificing overall protection of the thick, oily formula of the west for the smooth texture and light feel of Korean products. However, this could not be further from the truth!

Korean sunscreen formulas take sun protection very seriously. On Korean brands, you will not only find SPF labels, but also another rating called PA (+,++,+++,++++). PA, or “Protection Grade of UVA”, measures the products protection of UVA light and the more “+” signs you see, the more protection of UVA light is offered. Both UVA and UVB light is harmful and damaging to your skin that causes aging, dark spots, and potentially skin cancer. Many western brands do not offer a label for PA (+,++,+++,++++) protection, so you unfortunately are not able to see how protected you are from UVA light or if you are even protected at all!


I've never used Korean sunscreen before... Where should I start?

Korean sunscreen products are miles ahead of their Western counterparts in regards to innovation, formula, types, and protection levels. The options range from tinted sunscreen formulas (similar to BB cream’s or light foundation) to formulas that better resemble essences and dewy moisturizers.

If you usually skip out on this step of your skincare routine because of the “classic” sunscreen formula making your skin feel heavy and potentially causing breakouts, there are tons of great Korean sun protection options available for you to try!

When trying new sunscreens be sure to read the sunscreens ingredients, check the protection levels (SPF/PA), and apply sunscreen appropriately (remember to reapply!).


If you do not know where to start here are some of our faves!


Cica Farm Nature Solution Sun Cream by Farm Stay


This is a non-sticky, lightweight, and moisturizing sun cream with SPF 50+/PA++++. It consists of Centella Asiatica leaf extract which helps calm and smooth the skin. This plant is effective in healing dermatological problems, promotes blood circulation and has contains anti-wrinkle properties. It is a perfect option to apply as the last step before makeup due to its moisturizing abilities and quick absorption rate.


5-Zero Mild Sun Cream by Anua

This sun cream is formulated to be gentle and safe for all skin types, offering Korea’s highest UV protection of SPF 50+/PA++++.  It is certified to be irritant free, meaning there are no allergy triggering components, no skin irritation, and contains none of the 20 hazardous substances. This sunscreen thoroughly protects your skin, offering a moist texture and no white cast. Even though it is extremely mild to your skin, it builds a strong shield from the sun and offers complete protection



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