We’ve talked time and again about our love for K-beauty. We've waxed poetic about Korean skincare brands like Dr. Jart+, Sulwhasoo, and Laneige that pull their innovation, technology, and ingredients from South Korea. We've talked extensively about Korean moisturizers that emphasize skin barrier restoration, and obsessed over K-beauty sheet masks that make us glow in a few minutes flat. But we’d be remiss not to do a deep dive into the best Korean sunscreens, as they’re some of the most advanced, elegant formulas in the world.
With that in mind, prepare to discover the best Korean sunscreens available stateside. From silky, aloe-packed soothing sunscreens to non-sticky formulas designed specifically for the most sensitive skin, these are the most highly-rated, editor-approved K-beauty SPFs on the US market.
The Benefits of Korean Sunscreens
“Korea is always pushing the boundaries on texture innovations and formula stability as the market is hyper-competitive and demanding,” explains Peach & Lily founder Alicia Yoon (opens in new tab). The result of such progressive formulation? Lightweight, glow-giving sunscreens with advanced, UV-blocking filters that don’t leave a chalky white cast on the skin.
The best Korean sunscreens don't just have a stronghold when it comes to texture; they’re also proven to bring the same high standards to sun protection. Yoon explains that while U.S. sunscreens qualify for the “broad spectrum” label on a pass-fail system, the K-beauty system, a.k.a .the PA system, requires much heavier testing to assess exactly how extensively the formula protects the skin from UVA rays.
“There are four grades in the PA system: PA+, PA++, PA+++, and PA++++,” explains Yoon. “Each plus sign covers a rand of the PPD (Persistent Pigment Darkening) test. The highest number of the +’s offers the most UVA protection. So while you’re shopping, look out for sunscreen bottles with as many plus signs as possible.”
The Best Korean Sunscreens
The Best Korean Sunscreen for Redness
If you love the Laneige lip mask, (opens in new tab) just wait until you get your hands on this SPF. As someone with uber-sensitive skin, I can confirm that this chemical SPF leaves the skin feeling moisturized for hours. And thanks to the inclusion of centella asiatica, aka the gold standard for reducing redness, you’ll have calmer, less irritated skin—even in the heat of summer.
The Best Korean Sunscreen for Oily Skin
We get it: Oily skin and sunscreen can be a nerve-wracking concept. Alas, SPF is non-negotiable. Put your worries to rest with this sunscreen, as it’s specifically formulated for oily skin types. Instead of contributing to a greasy-looking complexion, this oil-free sunscreen is actually going to help absorb excess sebum and mattify the skin. That’s the just the start of the benefits—the elegant formula is also going to blur imperfections, color correct redness, and most importantly, provide SPF 50 protection.
The Best Vegan Korean Sunscreen
With a PA++++ rating, you can be confident this SPF is protecting you from the maximum amount of UVA rays. It has a 100 percent mineral filter, meaning it’s going to reflect the sun’s rays (not absorb them into the skin like chemical formulas), is ideal for sensitive skin, and safe for children. Take a quick glance at the ingredient list, and this formula only gets better. It has calming centella asiatica (goodbye, redness), hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and many more gold star ingredients, including white truffle. The latter, interestingly enough, works wonders for skin texture and brightness.
The Best Korean Sunscreen to Wear Under Makeup
Sulwhasoo is one of the best Korean skincare brands out there, so rest assured their sunscreen is going to be top notch. This formula in particular is infused with a handful of Korean herbs that work to give the skin a smooth and glowy base. There’s absolutely no pilling, and you can quite literally see a glassy effect take hold of your skin as you rub this formula in. It’s the perfect base for foundation—no primer is needed.
The Best Korean Sunscreen for Anti-Aging
Want multiple benefits with one product? Cell Fusion delivers. Not only is it going to provide great sun protection (it has three plus signs on the PA scale), but it’s also super-powered with anti-aging ingredients. You have both peptides and ceramides to hydrate and plump, along with collagen to firm the face. From a texture perspective, it feels incredibly lightweight and isn’t sticky in the slightest. It rubs in like a moisturizer and gives a velvety finish to the skin.
The Best Korean Sunscreen for Glow
Glow Recipe is a Korean-inspired brand that leverages the soothing effects of watermelon in a handful of its products. While the overnight mask will always be a favorite, don’t underestimate the transformative effects of their SPF. Coupled with the multitude of benefits of niacinamide (read: fights hyperpigmentation, controls oil, smooths skin), this watermelon-infused protector soothes, hydrates, protects, and evens out skin tone. Plus, it can be layered throughout the day without compromising the silky texture.
The Best Korean Sunscreen for Irritated Skin
This cult-y Korean skincare brand is known for its super-effective, super-soothing snail essence (opens in new tab)(!!!), but its sunscreen is just as covetable. If you're prone to burning, the aloe in this SPF 50 option will help ease the pain, and prevent more damage from happening.
The Best Korean Sunscreen for Dark Spots
The silky, porous powder this formula contains gives it its milky texture and blurring finish. And it's not just meant to prevent burns: It actually helps correct tone and dark spots as you wear it. A little does go a long way with this formula, so take extra caution to make sure you apply enough product. You need about a half teaspoon.
The Best Lightweight Korean Sunscreen
This lightweight formula won't disrupt your makeup, so feel free to slather it on. It has a smooth matte finish, contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to create a physical barrier from the sun, and is formulated without sulfates, SLS, or SLES, which can cause irritation and breakouts.
The Most Effective Korean Sunscreen
The sheer number of five-star Amazon reviews on this baby are impossible to ignore. It glides on like a silky, dolphin-smooth serum thanks to water capsules filled with hyaluronic acid, royal jelly extract, and citrus. And just because it's comfortable doesn't mean it isn't putting in work. It's truly waterproof and provides 80 minutes of carefree sun defense.
The Best Korean Sunscreen for Inflamed Skin
If you're too sensitive for long stretches under the sun, the nurturing ingredients in this option will help keep you comfortable. Green tea, cica, and sunflower seed oil reduce signs of irritation like redness and soothe the skin while it's protecting you.
The Best Korean Sunscreen for Dehydrated Skin
We don’t often consider sunscreens “soothing,” but this lotion is just that. Packed with aloe vera, bamboo extract, and a patented anti-inflammatory ingredient called phyto-oligo, it’s like an extra layer of moisturizer that just happens to have SPF 50 protection.
The Best Sweat-Proof Korean Sunscreen
Iope is known for its sensitive skincare, and this UV-protector is no different. The liquid strengthens skin on contact without adding stickiness. It's also packed with antioxidants to protect against everything from pollution to blue light emanating from your computer screen.
The Best Gel-Textured Korean Sunscreen
This gel is practically a dream for makeup wearers: It sinks into the skin undetectably so your foundation can glide on without pause, and it imbues powerful SPF50 protection. It's also deeply hydrating and helps disguise rough, dry patches.
Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and keeps up with the latest trends in the beauty space. She has previously written for Us Weekly, Popsugar, Makeup.com, Skincare.com, and Philadelphia Wedding. Follow her on Instagram @samholender.
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