If you are a fan of Korean beauty, then you know that Korean skincare products are innovative and effective. This also is true when it comes to Korean mineral sunscreens. The 7 best Korean mineral sunscreens offer broad-spectrum sun protection in the form of zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.
Forget the thick and chalky mineral sunscreen formulas of the past. Today’s Korean mineral sunscreens are enriched with protective skincare ingredients and have elegant textures, allowing them to blend into the skin with a minimal white cast.
Chemical vs Mineral Sunscreens
You may be wondering whether you should use chemical or mineral sunscreen. There are important differences between the two. One of the main differences between chemical and mineral sunscreens is how they work. While chemical sunscreens absorb UV light, mineral sunscreens deflect UV light. Let’s take a closer look at both chemical and mineral sunscreens.
Chemical sunscreens convert UV rays to heat, which then gets released from the skin. Chemical sunscreens generally work well with makeup and don’t leave a white cast like mineral sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens are often more comfortable to wear than mineral sunscreens.
Chemical sunscreens have come under fire in recent years due to the fact that they are absorbed by the skin. The FDA has asked manufacturers to provide additional data on the safety of these ingredients. They want to determine how much of these chemical ingredients we absorb and what the effects are of these ingredients on the human body.
Some chemical sunscreen ingredients have a negative effect on the environment. Chemical sunscreen ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate are not reef safe and can cause coral bleaching and damage. Luckily, there is an alternative to chemical sunscreens: mineral sunscreens.
The two mineral sunscreen ingredients that are generally recognized as safe and effective by the FDA are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Zinc oxide offers broad-spectrum short and long wave UVA and UVB protection. Titanium dioxide does not protect as well against long-wave UVA rays, but protects against short wave UVA and UVB rays, making it an excellent addition to zinc oxide.
There are many benefits to mineral sunscreens, also known as physical sunscreens, over chemical sunscreens. Mineral sunscreens deflect UV rays, and they are not absorbed by your skin.
Mineral sunscreens are effective the moment they are applied to your skin, while chemical sunscreens take about 20 minutes to absorb into your skin. Mineral sunscreens won’t clog your pores and tend to be less irritating than chemical sunscreens, especially to those with sensitive skin.
Keep in mind that there are drawbacks to mineral sunscreen, too. Mineral sunscreens may leave a white cast on your skin and depending on the formula may feel heavy and may not work well with makeup.
Regardless of what type of sunscreen you use, it is important that you apply sunscreen every day, regardless of whether or not the sun is shining. Sunscreens protect your skin from dangerous UV light from the sun and help reduce your risk of getting skin cancer.
The FDA (US) recommends that you wear a water-proof broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for optimal protection from UV rays.
UVA vs UVB Rays
UV radiation from sunlight produces UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. UVC rays are blocked by the Earth’s ozone layer, so only UVA and UVB rays reach the earth. Both UVA and UVB rays can damage the DNA of skin cells, which can lead to cancer.
Ultraviolet A rays (UVA) have the longest wavelengths and reach into the dermis (middle layers) of your skin to accelerate the visible signs of aging, and reduce skin elasticity. The signs of aging include wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots (also known as age spots or sun spots), discoloration, and hyperpigmentation. UVA rays also can cause skin cancer.
Ultraviolet B rays (UVB) reach the outer layers of the skin (epidermis), cause sunburns, and can cause skin cancer. SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, an indicator found on sunscreen labels, expresses how long skin is protected from UVB Rays.
How the Korean Sunscreen Protection Scale Works
PA+ to PA++++
The PA System is an indicator used in Asian skincare that expresses how long a sunscreen product will protect against UVA rays. Developed in Japan, the ratings include PA+, PA++, PA+++, and PA++++.
The more pluses, the higher the protection:
PA+ provides some protection, PA++ provides moderate protection, PA+++ provides high protection while PA++++ provides extremely high protection.
This rating system is related to PPD, Persistent Pigment Darkening (PPD), which measures how long it takes for your skin to tan. So if a sunscreen you are using has a PPD of 5, it would take you skin 5 times as long to tan than without it.
- PA+ = PPD of 2-4
- PA++ = PPD of 4 to 8
- PA+++ = PPD of 8 to 16
- PA++++ = PPD of 16 or higher
The Best Korean Mineral Sunscreens
Benton Mineral Sun Cream SPF50+/PA++++ is formulated with non-nano filters to reduce irritation on sensitive skin. This broad-spectrum sunscreen offers the highest level of UV protection in Korea in the form of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. It offers extremely high UVA protection with its PA++++ rating. The sunscreen protection lasts about 12 hours. It also helps to brighten the skin and improve elasticity.
The pH of this sunscreen is slightly acidic, at 6, similar to healthy skin. It’s also waterproof, forming a film that protects from UV light. This sun cream reduces oiliness on the skin while moisturizing skin. It starts out white but sinks into the skin quickly, without leaving a whitecast.
- Niacinamide: A multi-benefit active that offers anti-aging and brightening benefits, and helps to strengthen the skin barrier.
- Camellia Sinensis Leaf (Green Tea) Extract: A potent antioxidant that also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
- Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate: This ingredient comes from the licorice plant. It soothes and is an anti-inflammatory.
- Tea Tree Leaf Extract: antimicrobial and anti-acne properties.
- Tocopherol: Also known as pure vitamin E, this antioxidant offers photoprotection against damaging UV rays.
Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Sun Milk SPF50+ / PA+++ is a 100% mineral sunscreen that has multiple skin benefits. It not only provides SPF50+ PA+++ mineral sunscreen protection in the form of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, but it also helps to control oil production and brighten skin tone. This Korean sunscreen offers high UVA protection with its PA+++ rating.
Ideal for combination to oily skin tones, the sunscreen is a lightweight liquid that absorbs easily without leaving a whitecast on your skin. The lightweight matte formula of this mineral sunscreen would also be ideal for acne prone skin.
Although there is fragrance in this sunscreen, it is free of talc, animal ingredients, mineral oils and dyes. It dries down to a matte finish and works really well under makeup.
- Centella Asiatica Extract: An antioxidant that has wound-healing, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps stimulate hyaluronic acid production in our skin and moisturizes the skin too.
- Portulaca Oleracea Extract: A plant extract used in Korean traditional medicine that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It offers anti-inflammatory and healing properties.
- Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Aloe Vera): From the Aloe Vera plant, this extract has soothing and moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, and wound-healing properties.
- Terminalia Ferdinandiana Fruit Extract: This fruit extract is an antioxidant that helps to brighten the skin.
- Opuntia Ficus-Indica Extract: Otherwise known as prickly pear extract, it hydrates, soothes, and protects the skin.
Dr. G Green Mild Up Sun SPF50+/PA++++ is a hypoallergenic physical sunscreen that protects skin with 100% zinc oxide. The lightweight non-sticky formula protects against harmful UV rays and blue light. Its gentle ingredients are ideal for sensitive skin. This Korean sunscreen offers extremely high UVA protection with its PA++++ rating.
This mineral sun cream is lightweight and very moisturizing on the skin. It not only provides sun and blue light protection but also contains multiple ingredients to protect that skin barrier, making it perfect for those with sensitive skin.
- Centella Asiatica Extract: An antioxidant that has soothing, wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Houttuynia Cordata Extract: A plant extract used in Chinese medicine that is rich in polyphenolic flavonoids that offer anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial benefits.
- Safflower Seed Oil: Plant oil rich in fatty acids and vitamin E.
- Pinus Pinaster Bark Extract: Also known as Pycnogenol, this plant extract is known for its antioxidant properties and helps to improve skin hydration and elasticity.
- Phytosphingosine: A lipid present in the upper layers of the skin that has antimicrobial properties.
- Ceramide EOP: Also known as Ceramide 1, Ceramide EOP contains linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid and helps to support the skin barrier.
- Ceramide NP: Helps skin retain moisture for improved hydration and when paired with Ceramide EOP, efficacy is improved.
- Ceramide AP: Supports skin hydration. Ceramides are lipids that are found in the upper layers of skin and are considered to be the building blocks of skin as they hold skin cells together and lock in skin hydration.
LabNo Cicaloe Relief Sun Milk SPF50+ PA++++ is a thin liquid sun milk that contains mineral sunscreen protection in the form of titanium dioxide. This Korean sunscreen offers extremely high UVA protection with its PA++++ rating.
This gentle sunscreen is filled with soothing ingredients making it ideal for sensitive skin. It works well under makeup, doesn’t leave a whitcast, and doesn’t dry out the skin like some mineral sunscreens.
- Madecassoside: A compound found in Centella Asiatica extract that has been shown to have antioxidant benefits, supports collagen expression, protects the skin barrier, and helps to protect against irritation.
- Portulaca Oleracea Extract: This Korean plant extract contains antioxidants, vitamins and mineral and offers anti-inflammatory and healing properties.
- Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract: Also known as green tea extract, this antioxidant offers UV protection, and is an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial.
- Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Aloe Vera): A plant extract that offers soothes and miosturizes, while offering anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties.
- Houttuynia Cordata Extract: Calms and soothes irritation, as it has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties.
Make P:Rem UV Defense Me Blue Ray Sun Fluid SPF 50+ PA++++ is a 100% mineral sunscreen that can be used on both the face and body. It protects against both UVA and UVB rays without leaving a sticky or greasy residue. This mineral sunscreen in the form of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide offers extremely high UVA protection with its PA++++ rating.
This is a non-nano sun fluid that comes in a generously sized bottle so that you can use it on your body too. The sunscreen ingredients are at least 100nm (nanometers) to reduce the chances of it being absorbed by the skin. It has a lightweight and thin consistency. It is also suitable for those with sensitive skin. Plus, the white cast is very minimal.
What is Non-Nano Sunscreen?
Non-nano sunscreen is a type of sunscreen whose particles are not small enough to penetrate the skin and get absorbed into the blood. One nanometer is a billionth of a meter. A nanoparticle is smaller than 100 nanometers, so a non-nano particle is greater than 100 nanometers.
- Hyaluronic Acid: Hydrates and plumps the skin, as it has the ability to attract 1,000 times its own weight in water.
- Houttuynia Cordata Extract: Calms and soothes the skin with its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial benefits.
- Marrubium Vulgare: A plant extract that soothes and protects the skin.
- Gossypium Herbaceum Extract: Soothes, moisturizes, and conditions the skin.
- Panthenol: Also known as pro-vitamin B5. Supports the skin barrier, moisturizes the skin, and has anti-inflammatory and healing properties.
- Madecassoside: A component of Centella Asiatica extract, it helps to protect against irritation, supports the skin barrier, and has antioxidant properties.
Self Beauty Airlasting Probiotics Worry Free Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++ is a mineral-based sunscreen formulated with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide plus probiotics to protect skin from UVA and UVB rays and offers extremely high UVA protection with its PA++++ rating.
It’s a lightweight non-comedogenic formula, which means that it won’t clog pores. It doesn’t contain comedogenic ingredients like benzophenone, triethanlolamine, or phenoxyethanol.
This Korean mineral sunscreen is oil-free, won’t make your skin shiny, greasy, or sticky, and leaves a matte finish. Plus, it’s fast-absorbing and won’t leave a white cast.
- Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract: Also known as marigold extract. A plant extract offers anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
- Houttuynia Cordata Extract: Native to Southeast Asia. A plant extract that contains humectants for hydration, is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and has antibacterial benefits.
- Vitamin E: An antioxidant that has emollient properties that soften the skin and offers photoprotection against UVB Rays.
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Etude House UV Double Cut Mineral Filter Sun Cream provides SPF50+/PA++++ UV sunlight protection provided by zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. This Korean sunscreen also protects against blue light from smart phones and monitors that can also damage the skin.
This mineral sunscreen offers extremely high UVA protection with its PA++++ rating. This fragrance-free sunscreen blends in easily and the white shade disappears quickly.
- Cardiospermum Halicacabum Flower/Leaf/Vine Extract: Also known as the balloon plant. Has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to protect the skin from irritation and redness.
- Vitamin E: An antioxidant that provides photoprotection against damaging UVB rays from the sun.
Final Thoughts on the Best Korean Mineral Sunscreens
There are several options when it comes to Korean mineral sunscreens. These Korean mineral sunscreens come in formulas that work well under makeup and are formulated with skin-loving ingredients.
Regardless of which Korean mineral sunscreen you choose, you’ll be getting effective physical sun protection in an advanced Korean formula.
Thanks for reading, and here’s to your good skin health!
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