Turn to any how-to guide for keeping your skin happy and luminous, and you’ll find sunscreening an inevitable occurrence on each list. Whether it’s a sweaty summer afternoon or a nippy winter morning, sneaky ultraviolet rays can find their way into exposed skin, even when you’re spending time indoors. The right sun protection cream or lotion won’t just protect you from tanning and radiation, but it’ll also help prevent wrinkles, fine lines, pigmentation, and skin cancer. Since you’re reading this, odds are you already know the necessity of SPF, so the real question here is – which of the incalculable types of sunscreen on the market should you choose? After days of scouring review sites across the web, we’ve got a clear-as-a-sunny-day winner – Korean mineral sunscreen!
As a skincare enthusiast, you’ve probably experienced or at least heard of the wonders of K-Beauty. Well, the hype is absolutely real, and in no category does it shine through with more conviction than – yep, you guessed it – sun protection. The reason we herald Korean mineral sunscreens is that they offer your skin the broad-spectrum protection it craves in the form of either zinc oxide, titanium oxide, or sometimes both. Beyond saving the skin from irreversible damage, their unique ingredients emphasize texture as much as effectiveness, making them easy to apply as per the derm-recommended frequency of every 2-3 hours. So, without further preamble, let’s dive into our roundup of the 10 best Korean physical sunscreens of 2021.
10 Best Korean Mineral Sunscreens To Try In 2021 With Buying Guide
Surprisingly silky for the broad-spectrum protection it provides, this facial sunscreen glides on your skin without feeling sticky or leaving behind that dreaded white cast – even when the sun’s peaking. Blended with gentle ingredients like sunflower seeds, acai berries, aloe vera, and dwarf sage root extracts, this plant-based gel formula strengthens your skin’s vitality while providing thorough UV protection. It is also infused with common purslane extract, known for its antioxidant properties, and hyaluronic acid present in the formula serves as an excellent hydrator at the deepest level. This one’s pretty much an all-round achiever, making it an ideal choice even for sensitive skin types.
- Fluid texture
- Sebum-free and non-sticky
- Does not leave a white cast
- Contains both zinc and titanium oxide for the ultimate UVA/UVB protection
- The lemony fragrance might be a little overwhelming.
Another botanical wonder from the pioneers of K-Beauty, this mineral sunscreen is the epitome of gel-based sunscreens. It takes no time to spread and settles a clear, transparent finish that disappears in the skin so fast that you forget how well-protected you are. The formula is easy to blend into any makeup routine and pairs like a charm with your holy-grail moisturizer. While its eucalyptus leaf extract keeps your skin supple, the real superstar is green tea, which serves as an anti-aging ingredient with anti-inflammatory properties that protect you from skin issues like rosacea and acne. Finally, the sunscreen’s natural barrier complex seals the deal by retaining water, making it more resilient against environmental damage.
- No white sheen
- Transparent semi-matte finish
- Calms inflamed skin
- Does not clog pores
- The consistency may feel a bit runny.
Living up to its name, this sunscreen cools your skin upon contact. A selected blend of Indian pennywort extract and tea tree leaf powder soothes the surface and actively works to prevent pimples. Ideal for acne-prone skin types, the concoction has grown in popularity due to mask acne (or maskne) becoming such a common skin problem. The oldie-but-goodie glycerin content keeps the sunscreen from drying your skin out, while niacinamide smoothes wrinkles and provides several anti-aging benefits. All of these calming ingredients combined make this sunscreen a suitable option for those who have inflammation-prone skin.
- Effortlessly glides on the skin
- Highest shielding effect (PA++++)
- Infused with 85% moisturizing essence
- Non-Nano Mineral Cream that’s safe for sensitive skin
- Triples as UV Protection, skin brightener, and an anti-aging agent
- It has a strong tea tree oil fragrance that everyone may not enjoy.
Unlike average sunscreens, this one won’t reveal a white cast or sweat off no matter how much time you spend outdoors. It’s got kukui seed oil that is traditionally used to strengthen the skin barrier and heal sunburns, along with coconut oil, well-known for binding formulas to your skin for longer durations. The natural coconut vanilla scent keeps you feeling cool and refreshed, even through unbearably hot days. Another feature that makes this mineral sunscreen an athlete’s favorite is that it offers up to 80 minutes of water resistance. Oh, and the cherry on the cream? The lotion is 100% vegan and free of parabens and synthetic fragrances that are harmful to marine life. So, all of the protection and none of the guilt!
- Doesn’t feel greasy or sticky
- Water-resistant for up to 80 minutes
- 100% vegan and environment-friendly
- No parabens, synthetic fragrance, or chemicals
- Perfect for prolonged sun exposure
- The sunscreen might not wash off easily.
This Etude House favorite is especially designed for those with sensitive skin and provides inorganic protection against sun damage as well as dust pollution. The creamy, non-sticky texture feels like it’s barely there, making the sunscreen a breeze to reapply throughout the day. Not to mention its hypoallergenic formula, composed of rockstars like panthenol and madecassoside that bring instant relief to your pores without clogging or causing allergic reactions. While the former serves as a humectant that retains hydration, the latter modulates any inflammatory offenders and prevents roughness. Boasting a low pH factor, this formula is a genuine godsend for delicate skin types.
- Low pH makes it suitable for sensitive skin
- Hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic
- Hydrating and brightening properties
- No mineral oils
- No tar, talc, perfume, or parabens
- People with oily skin might find it less mattifying.
When it comes to sunscreen ingredients, zinc oxide belongs to a league of its own. Not only does it provide the broadest and most uniform range of protection available today, it’s also stable and doesn’t result in irritated skin. Another thing to love about this bottle is the probiotics complex, which prevents UV-related skin damage and keeps acne-inducing bacteria in check. To make your skin rejoice even more, the sunscreen is made of calming botanicals like chameleon plant extract, famous for its antioxidant potential, and sunflower seed oil that moisturizes and evens out the skin. Upon application, you’ll see a velvety and non-greasy matte finish that serves as the perfect canvas for your everyday makeup.
- Suitable for all skin types
- Does not feel sticky or heavy
- Contains hydrating hyaluronic acid
- Layers effortlessly on top of makeup
- Zinc oxide gives all-round protection from UVA and UVB rays
- Those with dry skin might have to apply moisturizer first.
Want to save your skin from damage without getting your hands sticky? Your prayers have been answered! This brush-on mineral powder is the ultimate no-lotion solution for broad-spectrum SPF that doesn’t feel heavy, cakey, or excessive in any way. It’s enriched with natural ingredients like manuka honey, pure avocado oil, and kiwifruit extract, which revive dehydrated skin, supply it with essential vitamins, and brighten you up from the inside. Suitable for all skin types, the sunscreen is especially ideal for acne-prone skin, as it contains zero irritants along with the bacteria-fighting powers of kanuka honey.
- Apply anywhere on-the-go
- Best-suited for humid days
- All-natural ingredients
- The SPF might be low for prolonged sun exposure.
You will fall in love with this award-winning SPF-CC combo as it protects you against major damage from radiation, pollution, and harmful UVA/UVB rays while hydrating, soothing, and color-correcting your skin. It’s the ideal makeup companion for every skin type and is free from parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and animal-derived ingredients. With added niacinamide that enhances your natural glow, hypoallergenic eco-herb water complex that moisturizes, and micro pixel powder that refines pores, this one’s an all-time favorite for those who can’t get enough of that fresh, dewy finish.
- No white cast
- Color corrects and evens out skin tone
- Gives your face a porcelain glow
- Leaves you feeling dewy and fresh
- Protects skin as well as enhances complexion
- Might be a bit drying in cold weather conditions
Sourced from the pristine island of Jeju, this sunscreen is made with ingredients full of unparalleled power to nurture your skin. The water-based formula containing invigorators like green tea extract, witch hazel, and sunflower seed oil saves you from sunburn and reduces premature signs of aging at the same time. Cica, a well-known soothing ingredient, ensures that the lotion is gentle and causes no harm. The paraben and talc-free sunscreen feels lightweight to the point of invisibility, and should be a top choice for daily use. It’s essentially a Korean moisturizer with SPF!
- The watery solution blends in seamlessly
- Lightweight sunscreen with no white cast
- The perfect makeup companion
- Moisturizes the skin inside out
- Works well for sensitive, acne-prone skin
- It might look a bit shiny on oily skin.
If you’ve been on the lookout for a sunscreen that seamlessly doubles as a day cream, the search is officially over! This alcohol-free mineral sunscreen is ideal for colder days as the fruit oils and aloe vera extract keep your skin from drying out, while centella asiatica acts as a humectant. It’s non-comedogenic, free of chemicals, and rubs in clear and smooth without leaving a trace, keeping the most sensitive of skin types comfortable and protected from any sun damage.
- Milk-like texture
- Zero chemicals or preservatives
- Goes well under foundation
- Doesn’t feel greasy or heavy
- Suited for extremely sensitive skin
- Slightly expensive
Not to be hyperbolic, but choosing the right sunscreen can make a world of difference to the way you look and feel in the long run. But before you do that, here’s some general info on what to keep in mind before selecting a sunscreen.
Things to Remember When Buying A Korean Mineral Sunscreen
Opt for broad spectrum
Always opt for broad spectrum Korean sunscreens, which provide both UVA and UVB coverage. Why this matters is because you want to be protected from both types of radiation. While UVA rays penetrate into the skin and can cause premature aging and cancer, UVB rays are responsible for sunburns if you’re long exposed. Anything above SPF 30 is adequate, although the higher the SPF, the safer your skin.
Understand PA Ratings
Those PA ratings you see on every bottle with a certain number of plus signs? They tell you exactly what level of protection you will receive from UVA rays. PA+ implies that it offers mild protection. PA++ stands for moderate protection, while PA+++ gives you an impressively high degree of protection. Few products have a PA++++ rating on the market, which is why Korean physical sunscreen technology is considered a league ahead of the rest. If you find a sunscreen with a PA++++ rating, you’ll have the most superior level of sun protection that a product can possibly offer.
Consider your skin type
No consideration is more crucial than determining whether a sunscreen is suitable for your skin type and tone. As the final step in your morning routine, you want to make sure it has the right consistency (not too greasy or runny), doesn’t leave a white cast, and most importantly, doesn’t contain allergens that might irritate your skin. Always peek at the key ingredients in the back. There are certain blends that are only suitable for specific skin types.
For instance, if you have rosacea, you should steer clear of alcohol-based sunscreens. On the other hand, if acne-prone skin is your biggest dilemma, you might want to choose a gel-based sunscreen over a cream-based one. Those with dry skin should look for moisturizing ingredients like glycerin, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and honey, whereas oily skin would benefit from water-based or gel-based formulas containing ingredients like tea tree oil, niacinamide, or green tea that control sebum production. If your skin type is normal, lucky you! It’s safe to use pretty much any kind of sunscreen that grabs your fancy.
Mineral V/S Chemical Sunscreens: What’s The Big Difference?
If K-Beauty is an indication of one thing, it’s that sunscreen technology has come a long way. There are a myriad options for every skin type and complexion to choose from, which is truly a blessing. However, it’s when you need to decide between mineral and chemical sunscreens that things start getting complex.
The primary filters in mineral sunscreens are zinc oxide and titanium oxide. They’re also known as inorganic ingredients. The use of the term ‘inorganic’ here has chemical connotations, and it does not imply ‘non-natural’. On the other hand, the ingredients used by chemical sunscreens to filter harmful rays are called organic ingredients, and they include carbon-based compounds.
Physical or mineral sunscreens function by deflecting and scattering UV rays away from the skin. They offer a broader range of protection against both UVA and UVB damage. Instead of defecting, chemical sunscreens transform UV rays into heat and absorb it into the skin before releasing it. They basically function like a sponge.
Mineral sunscreens are photostable, which means they need to be reapplied less frequently than their chemical counterparts. It doesn’t take too long for them to come into effect, so the 15-minute rule can be shortened to 5 or 10 minutes. However, the consistency of chemical sunscreens tends to be slightly thinner, making them easier to apply than mineral sunscreens.
Ultimately, the perfect sunscreen is whichever feels good and offers a broad spectrum SPF to unprotected skin. Don’t be discouraged if you’re unable to find The One straight away, as it can take some trial and error to get there. However, the market is saturated with more options than ever, which means it’s impossible NOT to find one that wins you over in every respect. The Korean mineral sunscreens we’ve vetted for you are an excellent place to get started, so go ahead and give them a whirl before it’s time to officially head out into the sunshine again.