Are Korean sunscreens better than Western sunscreens?

Are Korean sunscreens better than Western sunscreens?

Why are sunscreens necessary?
Sunscreen is an important part of a good skin care routine.  When used properly, it provides the protection you need against dark spots, collagen breakdown leading to wrinkles, sagging and thinning skin.


Innovation in sunscreen ingredients

Some beauty enthusiasts say that Korean sunscreen is better than Western sunscreen. 

They say this because in the Korean Beauty market is very innovative.  The skin care product business is very competitive, and if the company is not innovating, they fall behind in consumer approval.

Innovation in sunscreens (and all skin care) evolves from consumer feedback. 

Over the years, I've seen sunscreens change dramatically.  There were initially coconut-smelling lotions and oils you only wore at the beach.  Then we started to see more and more sun damage on facial skin and it became apparent that sunscreen was needed for faces as well.  But there was a struggle to make formulations that consumers would use.  This is because many sunscreens were heavy, chalky, left white streaks.

Because sunscreen is considered a drug according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its chemicals and components must undergo formal drug approval processes.  US skin care brands can only use approved ingredients.


The US FDA hasn't reviewed or approved a new chemical or mineral sunscreen ingredient in the US since 1999.  This has left consumers with some undesirable options - those that made the skin look greasy or white-streaked, and maybe smelling coconut-y.
In South Korea, new sunscreen formulas are advance rapidly due to quicker approval times of their regulating body.


Which type of sunscreen is better?

Sunscreens fall into two main categories - mineral and chemical. 


Mineral sunscreen includes zinc and titanium dioxide.  Its the zinc that can leave the white streaks.  Remember lifeguards wearing thick zinc paste on their noses and lips?  Its the same zinc, just formulated into a cream with other ingredients rather than thick paste.  The mineral sunscreens act to reflect light, and have a calming effect on skin.  However, they can leave white streaks or give an overall paleness to skin.


Chemical sunscreens include avobenzone, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate and Ethylhexyl Salicylate.  Chemical sunscreens absorb light, absorbing and dispersing heat.  Typically, Korean Beauty sunscreen formulations mix mineral and chemical sunscreen ingredients, getting the best of both types.


Korean Beauty liquid mineral sunscreens, no matter how much zinc oxide they contain, are completely transparent on all skin tones making them ideal for skin with more color, also known as skin with a higher Fitzpatrick Score.


Korean Beauty sunscreens that contain chemical sunscreen ingredients provide a beautiful, transparent, dewy finish.


Extra benefits of well formulated sunscreens
Both Western and Korean Beauty sunscreens formulate sunscreens to also perform as a moisturizer, meaning they include ingredients in the formulation that your moisturizer would have.  Some examples of ingredients included are allantoin, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide, plus many more.  With this type of formulation you're not only protecting your skin from UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays, you're also adding an extra layer of hydration, brightening, and smoothing benefits.


What do SPF and PA+ mean on a sunscreen?
SPF means "sun protection factor" and is represented by a number.


SPF focuses on UVB light (which burns skin) and theoretically measures how protected you are from sunburn.  This, however, is not exactly the case, and has led people to believe they are protected all day if they choose a high spf number.  More on that later...


PA+ is protection from UVA light (which visibly ages us) and your protection from developing pigmentation.


What is the best number of spf?
Dermatologists typically recommend a minimum of 25spf.  Mineral sunscreens, formulated without chemical sunscreens, can only go as high as about 40.
But it doesn't matter nearly as much as regularly reapplying sunscreen.
In fact, the US FDA recommends that sunscreen be applied every 2 hours and after sweating or swimming (anything that dilutes the sunscreen on your skin). 

There are no water-proof sunscreens.

 How do I easily apply a sunscreen every 2 hours?

This is where Korean sunscreens often have the advantage.  You can reapply them anytime without the streaking that a liquid mineral sunscreen would.
If you still prefer mineral, try a powder sunscreen that brushes on and is portable.  Many of these have a tint so its like re-applying makeup.  Check out this mineral powder.


What is the best sunscreen?

After all is said and done, the best sunscreen is the one you will use as I've outlines above.  Calm Beauty carries Korean and Western options, so check them out here.
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