Physical or chemical? Sunblocks or sunscreens? THAT is the question. We have all been there, and we know that the quest to find your perfect summer (not only!) companion is long and full of painful trails. Cecile and I (Irene) have been in this conundrum before and in this blog we tested 5 Asian sunscreens that will help you protect your skin from unwanted UV rays for both oily and dry skin.
In a nutshell, a sunblock, the physical kind, contains both organic and non-organic ingredients that sit on top of the skin acting as a barrier between your skin and damaging UV rays by reflecting UVB light. Sunscreens, the chemical kind, contain organic (carbon-based) compounds, which create a chemical reaction that changes UV rays into heat, then releases that heat from the skin so the rays are not able to reach and damage the dermal layer of your skin. These days, most formulas often contain a mixture of both sunblock and sunscreen.
This is a joint review, by me and Cecile (the boss of this blog). As we have different skin types and complexions, together, we can recommend a wider range of Asian sunscreens – both Korean and Japanese.
About us and our sunscreen preferences
Skin complexion: Tan with yellow undertones
Skin type: Oily
What I want from my sunscreen: High protection/coverage, as I walk to and from work in the morning and before sunset. Non-greasy formula, I do not want to put my blotting papers to work before they should! A formulation that sits well under make-up.
Skin complexion: Fair and sensitive to the sun
Skin type: Dry
What I want from my sunscreen: High protection that will preserve my skin and prevent any dark spots and sun marks. I also prefer thin formulas that are easy to wear and don’t leave a white cast. Any extra ingredients that moisturize are a good bonus!
- Missha’s All Around Safe Block Essence Sun SPF 45/PA +++
IRENE: Cecile loves the Missha All around Safe Block Waterproof Sun Milk SPF 50. So I decided to try the Missha bestseller All Around Safe Block Essence Sun SPF 45. The packaging is really pretty and when you open it, it has a subtle floral smell. This is mainly a chemical sunscreen, you can see the ingredients here. The brand recommends this sunscreen for people with dry skin (not me) and those who plan to spend time outdoors (me everyday). I have used this product for the past month and I think this is a good product for oily skin in the winter time, when you want to protect yourself from UV rays and wear make-up, it has been sitting very well under my make-up.
I have been doing laser hair removal on my face and the aesthetician recommended me to wear sunscreen during the entire treatment. This Missha’s best seller has protected my skin during my treatment. No white patches from laser, hooray! From the three sunscreens I tried this one was the most greasy one for me. But, if you are used to more western sunscreens this Korean sunscreen will be your new holy grail because in comparison to your regular avenoo, coopertone etc the formula is very light weight and does not leave a white cast.
This is my second bottle of this sunscreen, the packaging looks really good on the top of my make-up vanity and I am happy with the overall quality and price. I bought mine from Missha store online. It deserves 4 Kinbeauty points!
CECILE: A small note that this sunscreen is an SPF 45, while my beloved Missha is SPF 50 – I wonder why this difference? Also, on the Missha website this cream is recommended for dry skin – so I should definitely give it a try. I feel that in general Missha is doing really good sunscreens, we already tried two and loved them both! Let us know if you have experiences with other Missha sunscreens in the comments down below!
Where to get it? You can find it on the official Missha US website.
- Bioré UV AQUA Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+ PA++++
CECILE: I bought the Bioré sunscreen during my trip to Japan. This brand is a serious ‘must have’ in terms of Japanese sunscreens, and we all know how Japanese women are serious about sun protection. Bioré has different types of sunscreens, so it was quite a though choice (also be aware, that the packaging looks very similar and it is actually hard to differentiate between the various sunscreen options).
After some blog googling and in-store comparison, I finally went for the Bioré UV AQUA Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ sunscreen. This product has a very high SPF and PA protection which is great. The smell of this cream is rather fresh, but not overpowering which may be important for some of you. The cream comes a bit greenish out of the packaging, but fear not, it does not leave any strange color on your face. actually, it doesn’t leave any kind of residue on your face (no white cast at all!).
But what really makes the difference, is the consistency of this susncreen. It is the perfect sunscreen for everyday use and to put under make-up as it ‘absorbs’ within seconds and leaves the skin dry and ready for make-up. This Bioré sunscreen really behaves like an ‘essence’ meaning that it instantly sinks into the skin and leaves absolutely no shine, color or texture behind. It is literally as if you are not wearing anything at all. This cream is super light and comfortable to wear and I feel it could be a good match for oily skin type. To be perfect, I would love it to have more hydrating properties as my skin is dry, but on top of a moisturizing cream this sunscreen is great! You can find the ingredients list here. I give it a 4 out of 5 Kinbeauty points.
IRENE: That sounds great! I want to give it a try now!
Where to get it? You can buy it on Amazon (at around 8 USD it’s actually quite cheap).
- The Face Shop Natural Sun Eco Sebum Control Moisture Sun SPF40PA+++
IRENE: The word sebum control, oil control, or any word that implies control of the shine that my face likes to produce is often a big selling point for me. This is the case for The Face Shop Natural Sun Eco Sebum Control Moisture Sun SPF40PA+++. This is also a chemical sunscreen and I tried it for 2 months last year. You can see the full list of ingredients here. The product is SUPER light weight and sits amazingly under make-up! However, there are two things that make me not want to purchase this product again. I was really hoping for sebum control as stated in the products name! I prayed for a matte finish but this did not provided it. This can be a great product for combination/ T-zone skin type. The reviews I read on Amazon were amazing in this regard and I was really hoping it would work for me. It is less greasy than the Missha all around safe block essence but it did not live up to its name. My conclusion from this experiment is that I will have to marry blotting papers for the rest of my life!
The other thing that I did not appreciate from this Face Shop sunscreen was the strong fragrance it has. I do not like putting cosmetics with strong fragrance on my face, particularly because the smell stays with you for a long time after application (it felt like putting perfume on my face).
I purchased this product on Amazon but I will not be purchasing it again, as I would like to try other Asian sunscreens on the market. This product will get 2 Kinbeauty points mainly due to its lightweight feeling.
Where to get it? You can find it on Amazon or in a The Faceshop store.
- COSRX Aloe Vera Soothing Sun Cream SPF 50+ PA+++
CECILE: This sunscreen is kind of a classic among Korean Beauty bloggers. I saw many enthusiastic reviews before purchasing it, so of course I had top give it a try. The Cosrx sunscreen promises to repair and hydrate while protecting your skin against sun damage and environmental attack. Sounds promising!
This cream contains 5,500ppm of Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, an ingredient known for its soothing, hydrating and anti-aging properties. I use Aloe Vera gel (the nature republic is great!) as a soothing after sun product. I love the fresh yet elegant smell of this cream as well as the delicate consistency. Actually, this cream doesn’t feel at all like a sunscreen, but rather as a good quality, light hydrating cream. Similar to the Bioré cream, it absorbs fast and without any residue or white cast. As a plus, this cream makes your skin super soft and moisturized. For me this sunscreen is a winner! Totally worth the hype. I give it 5 out of 5 Kinbeauty points.
Where to get it? It is available on the Wishtrend website (with an in-depth description and ingredients list).
- A’PIEU PURE BLOCK Natural Sun Cream SPF45/PA+++
IRENE: Cecile gave me this sunscreen! She is such a good friend!
CECILE : Yeah, cause’ I wanted you to review it! (witch laugh ;)
IRENE: She read a lot of good reviews and gave it to me so I can put it to the test with my oily skin. When you first open the tube a heavenly smell emerges, tangerines? oranges? clementines? I like citrus smells! The smell fades away during application. This is a chemical sunscreen and you can see the full list of ingredients here. Although the texture feels greasy at first, it absorbs very well after 5 to 10 minutes. I suggest to wait this much before applying any make-up. I have also been using this product during my facial hair removal treatment and A’PIEU PURE BLOCK Natural Sun Cream has been protecting me from the damaging effects of the sun. Believe it or not, I have found this sunscreen to be the least greasy on my skin! Most of the reviews I read said the opposite but this opinion comes from my personal experience.
I will be purchasing this product again and will put it to the test during the summer months. I would like to see if this sunblock is able to sit well under my make-up once heat strikes. This product totally deserves 5 Kinbeauty points for being able to live up to its hype.
Where to get it? You can find it on Amazon.
Thank you for reading and please recommend your favorite sunscreens in the comments section! Also please let us know if you would like to see more of this kind of 'joint reviews' on the blog.