Sun exposure can make breakouts worse. But if you have oily or sensitive skin, you might be reluctant to wear sun protection.
Put your fears aside and take care of yourself. Get the best Korean sunscreen for acne-prone skin.
Why choose Korean sunscreen? In our experience, they guard against both sunburn and premature aging with a high sun protection factor.
Korean culture favors pale skin as a sign of beauty. Therefore their sunscreens are potent.
Also, most have safe, natural formulas that are dermatologist-tested for sensitive skin.
Let’s talk more about which Korean sunscreen is the best for your situation.
What sunscreen do dermatologists recommend?
The American Academy of Dermatology proposes that everyone, regardless of skin tone, use SPF 30 or higher sunscreen. That’s because SPF 30 filters out 97% of the harmful rays.
There are two types of harmful ultraviolet radiation: UVA and UVB. The former causes age spots and wrinkles. The latter leads to sunburn (1).
Unfortunately, the SPF factor only applies to how well the sunscreen filters UVB rays that cause sunburn, not UVA.
This is where Korean sunscreens are better. They also carry a PA rating. You’ll see it on labels like “PA++++.” They explicitly provide protection against photo-aging.
The sunscreens that carry this rating have been tested on a variety of different skin tones. The scientists measure how long it takes for the person’s skin to tan under UVA. They compare that to unexposed skin to create a Persistent Pigment Darkening rating.
Translation: if a sunscreen is labeled with the maximum PA++++, it should take sixteen times as long for a person wearing that product to tan. Whereas a PA+ rating provides at least minimal protection, up to four times.
As you shop, you’ll see that most Korean sunscreens are SPF50 PA+++ for excellent protection against premature aging and sunburn.
Which type of sunscreen is best for acne-prone skin?
When you see the word “cream”, you might think that it’s going to be too thick and greasy for oily skin. Press pause on that definition for now because Korean sunscreens are different. A cream may be more like a milk – lightweight and quick-absorbing.
When in doubt, check the reviews below for our recommendations. You’ll find that we selected several fluids, gels, and milks that won’t make your face shinier.
There’s something else to consider besides the sunscreen’s texture. The ingredients have a huge impact, too.
Some formulas offer physical defense in the form of minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They reflect harmful radiation away from the skin. On the downside, they sometimes turn the skin white.
Other use chemical sunscreens that absorb the rays without allowing them to penetrate. These don’t turn white, but they may take your eyes sting.
In any case, the best sunscreen is the one you’ll use every day.
What was the Korean sunscreen controversy?
Have you heard of the Korean brand Purito? They sold a best-selling sunscreen that they have since pulled from the market. When it was independently tested, it was found to have a lower sunscreen protection factor than was advertised (2).
A few other brands ended up with the same problem. Since then, they’ve all stopped selling the sunscreens in question and offered apologies and refunds to make the problem right.
At the time of writing, we made every effort to include only brands that weren’t accused of having defective sunscreens.
You might say that these are truly the best Korean sunscreens right now.
Best Korean Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin in 2021
MAKEP:REM UV Defense Me Blue Ray Sun Fluid SPF 50+ PA++++
Here’s one of our favorite sunscreens. It comes in a large bottle to treat just your face or the whole body. That’s good news because the American Cancer Society recommends using a golf ball-sized amount to cover everything. That’s about an ounce of sunscreen, which makes the average bottle go pretty fast.
Most importantly, it’s mild enough for children and potent enough for adults.
It features mineral sunscreen and safe ingredients. Just check the EWG Skin Deep database, and you’ll see what we mean. Everything is rated for lowest hazard to health.
Instead of absorbing rays, it reflects them, keeping the skin safe from premature aging and sunburn.
Moreover, mineral sunscreen is less likely to irritate sensitive skin. The gel texture is lightweight and never sticky, making it suitable for use under makeup. It doesn’t leave a white cast, either.
What’s interesting is that it’s also formulated to prevent heat aging caused by infrared rays. It uses botanicals to lower the skin’s temperature and keep it comfortable.
ISNTREE Hyaluronic Acid Watery Sun Gel SPF 50+ PA++++
Here’s another sunscreen for the whole body, including the face.
First, it has a high sun protection factor from chemical sunscreen that absorbs the damaging rays. This allows it to have a lightweight gel texture that spreads easily and absorbs rapidly. It sets to a matte finish without leaving a white residue.
Second, it features eight types of hyaluronic acid. This single ingredient can attract and hold up to a thousand times its weight in water, making it an outstanding moisturizer. It makes it easy to keep the skin hydrated when you’re out in the sun.
Third, it’s packed with soothing and healing ingredients like Centella asiatica and niacinamide. These help the skin look and feel healthy.
In case you’re curious, it has several sunscreen ingredients that guard against both UVA and UVB radiation. Some of these are not yet common in the USA but are approved for use in other countries like Korea. Happily, we didn’t see any parabens listed on the label.
COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50 PA+++
This is a favorite sunscreen recommended by K-beauty fans. Although it’s a cream, it’s not greasy or thick. It’s effortless to rub in and wears well under makeup.
With a high concentration of aloe and glycerin, it may double as a moisturizer for those with oily skin.
The soothing formula needs to be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure because it relies on chemical sunscreens, not minerals.
A’PIEU PURE BLOCK Natural Daily Sun Cream SPF45/PA+++
How about sunscreen that also protects against pollution? If you spend a lot of time on the city streets, take a closer look at this product. It may be just what you need to keep your complexion radiant.
Now, you should know that when it comes to Korean sunscreen like this one, a matte finish isn’t flat. Instead, it’s rather dewy. That’s helpful if you have dry, acne-prone skin.
It moisturizes with aloe and watermelon and has a pleasant citrus fragrance.
Suntique I’m Pure Cica Suncream, Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin, SPF 50+
Is acne medication dehydrating your skin? Try this gentle sunscreen with healing ingredients like CICA, natural yeast, amino acids, and vitamins.
The formula doesn’t just guard against sunburn, but it also promotes a healthier complexion.
Also, it’s mild enough for children to enjoy as the sunscreen is 100% mineral, not chemical. Check it out on the EWG Skin Deep Database.
The sunscreen absorbs excess oil and has a matte but not flat finish. On darker skin tones, it may have a slight white cast.
SOME BY MI Truecica Mineral 100 Calming Suncream SPF50+/PA++++
Is it possible to have a non-nano mineral sunscreen that doesn’t turn white? This one claims victory.
It blocks the sun’s rays with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide yet has a very smooth texture and no chalky residue.
We also like that it has tea tree to fight acne and inflammation. Furthermore, there’s niacinamide to correct redness.
Lastly, don’t forget the centella as it protects against irritation and calms the skin.
ETUDE HOUSE Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Sun Milk SPF50+ / PA+++
It’s always nice when sunscreen doesn’t make the face greasier. This sun milk sinks in quickly, leaving the skin clean and natural. It’s not oily but rather helps reduce shine.
The mineral-based formula reflects damaging radiation at the same time, it strengthens the skin. If you spent a lot of time outdoors, it’s not just sunshine that can dehydrate and weaken the skin. Pollution, wind, and temperature variations also contribute to the problem.
That’s why this sunscreen contains twenty plant ingredients that moisturize, fortify, and heal. These include Centella asiatica, portulaca, aloe, acerola, açai, and sunflower seeds. There are a lot of vitamins and antioxidants in that bunch! Finally, they’ve included hyaluronic acid to plump the skin.
ACWELL UV Cut Mild Sun Fluid SPF 50+ PA++++
In a world where it seems everything has harmful chemicals in it, it’s wonderful to find sunscreen like this one. It’s FDA-approved and free of parabens, artificial colors, fragrances, animal products, and mineral oil.
It keeps UV rays at bay while it lessens inflammation, hydrates, and repairs the skin. In other words, it’s what all sunscreens should do.
It’s suitable for all skin types.
Missha All Around Safe Block Soft Finish Sun Milk EX SPF50+/PA+++
If you have oily skin, take a closer look. This sunscreen was made specifically for you.
In the first place, it contains no-sebum powder to absorb oil. At the same time, it resists sweat and high humidity, making it the best Korean sunscreen for summer.
Next, it fixes uneven skin tone and texture. Meanwhile, it guards against environmental pollution and dehydration with natural ingredients like helichrysum.
Lastly, it’s one of the top-selling and most-reviewed sunscreens from Korea. This many satisfied customers can’t be wrong.
IPKN Big Apple Sun Cream, SPF 50
Beauty bloggers have known about this product for a while. The ones we spoke to don’t hesitate to recommend it as an excellent mineral-based sunscreen.
It uses zinc oxide for two purposes: to reflect UV rays and serve as a makeup primer. Although it has a slight white cast, this evens out skin tone. The mineral also helps control oil.
Moreover, it features antioxidant-rich apple water that nourishes the complexion and provides a cooling sensation. Yes, it also smells like apples.
THANKYOU FARMER Sun Project Light Sun Essence SPF50+ PA+++
Although a few users have commented about the strong fragrance and white cast, most seem satisfied with this sunscreen’s performance. After all, it’s been clinically tested to be safe for sensitive skin.
It’s a chemical sunscreen that’s been enhanced with natural extracts for skin health. It has lotus flower, soy lipids, and purslane for extra hydration and soothing.
Please note that it’s not uncommon for chemical sunscreens to sting the eyes. Even if you try to leave a gap when applying it, at some point, you may forget and rub your eyes. This is one of the reasons why we prefer mineral sunscreens.
Dr.Oracle 21 Stay A-thera Sun Block SPF 50+ Pa+++
This sunscreen won’t clog your pores. It’s ideal for acne-prone skin as it has a unique technology called Lock ‘n Pore Complex. It treats blockages and manages sebum production.
The hypoallergenic formula has a silky texture that sets matte and wears well underneath foundation. There’s no white residue.
Furthermore, it has unusual ingredients that relax and hydrate the skin. One is bamboo water, common in Korean traditional medicine because it’s rich in minerals and amino acids.
Another is maca from the Andes Mountains that’s packed with peptides to rejuvenate the skin.
Of course, there’s cica (Centella) to calm and heal breakouts.
PAPA RECIPE Bombee Honey Moist Sun Essence SPF50+/PA+++
It doesn’t matter if you have dry or oily acne-prone skin; you’ve got to try this sunscreen. It’s soothing and lightweight, with a subtle clean fragrance. It works well underneath makeup and doesn’t make the complexion greasy.
It glides on and dries in a moment but keeps skin hydrated with Royal jelly and honey.
AHC Natural Perfection Double Shield Sun Stick SPF50+ PA++++
If you carry this sun stick with you, you’ll never have an excuse for not applying sunscreen. Use it to protect your tattoos, too.
It’s mild enough for the face and strong enough for the body. You can even use it to touch up your sun protection over the top of your makeup. Just dab it on gently.
Sunscreen is crucial for every complexion. It’s even more essential for acne-prone skin.
When you use Korean sun cream, you can relax as it won’t feel greasy or sticky. It’s going to give you a high level of protection plus lots of nourishing ingredients.
If our reviews helped you find your new favorite Korean skincare product, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
1. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/sunscreen-patients/sunscreen-faqs accessed March 15, 2021
2. https://queenofwrongstyle.com/2021/01/20/korean-sunscreen-controversy-updates/ by Ali, updated March 4, 2021, accessed March 15, 2021