Asian Sunscreen Roundup – Japanese and Korean Beauty

Which one is my favorite, why their chemical filters are better and what I look for/avoid in my sunscreen.

Hello! You guys I have been passionate about sunscreen for the past couple of years and I wear SPF 50+++ every single day. Honestly I wish I started doing that 15 years ago.

Let’s start with the basics. A product’s SPF value is going to tell you how good it is at protecting you from UVB rays, which cause burning, DNA damage and cancer. SPF 15 blocks 93% of incoming UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% and SPF 50 blocks 98%. Anything rated much higher than that is a gimmick. You should look for at least SPF 30 because the actual amount that most people use in reality will give them more of an SPF 15 protection. The PA rating (the + after the SPF) is going to tell you how good it is at protecting you from UVA rays, which cause collagen damage, aging and can also exacerbate the carcinogenic effects of UVB rays. Anything labeled broad spectrum has both UVA and UVB protection.

Let’s get into ingredients, specifically the physical and chemical filters used to protect you. Zinc and titanium dioxide are physical filters that build an actual physical barrier on the skin that reflects UV rays, protecting against both UVA and UVB rays. That’s how you can have a broad spectrum sunscreen with only titanium or zinc and they are excellent at doing their job. The problem with these filters is they are generally not aesthetically pleasing as they leave a white cast, don’t blend well with makeup and tend to be greasy. Chemical filters absorb different wavelengths of UV light and disperse them as energy (heat!) but they degrade with time. Avobenzone is a chemical filter that blocks UVA rays adequately BUT it is not very stable so it degrades quickly and needs to be reapplied frequently which most people do not do. Also they can be irritating to the skin and cause oxidative stress as they break down. There are better chemical filters out there! So while the rest of the world is getting their sunscreen on and advancing their ingredients, we are stuck here in the USA using ingredients from the 1970’s. Not cool, FDA, not cool.

Enter the world of Asian beauty! For my face, I exclusively use K-beauty or J-beauty products because they leave NO white cast, they are non greasy, and most importantly they have awesome chemical filters, as in they are photo-stable and won’t break down on the skin. Some of these filters are Tinisorb (effective against both UVA and UVB) and Uvinul A (powerful against UVA). Also, they can help stabilize less robust filters like octinoxate.

All the of the sunscreens I’m going to show you today wear beautifully under makeup and leave no white cast whatsoever. These formulations are more elegant than anything you would find in an American drug store yet the prices are unbeatable. For reference I have oily acne prone skin. Amazon links are affiliate which means I may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can also find these products on

My absolute favorite is the Shiseido Hada Senka Mineral Water UV Protector SPF50+++ $10 on Amazon

Filter type: combination chemical/physical

Active ingredients: zinc oxide, octinoxate, Uvinul A, Ensulizole, octocrylene, polysilicone-15

Why I love it: works so well with my oily skin, not greasy throughout the day, water resistant and fragrance free! Also beautiful under makeup.

Cons: silicone heavy formula, doesn’t bother me but I know it’s a deal breaker for some

Etude House Sunprise Mild Watery Light SPF 50 PA+++ $10 on Amazon

Filter Type: chemical

Active ingredients: octinoxate, homosalate, octisalate, Uvinul A

Why I love it: light weight lotion, sinks in quickly, moisturizing

Cons: not water resistant and fragrance is not an ingredient but it does have extracts like lime oil, bergamot oil and lemon peel oil which give it a scent and can be irritating to the skin

Skin Aqua UV Super Moisture Gel SPF 50 PA++++ $12 on Amazon

Filter type: chemical

Active Ingredients: octinoxate, Uvinul A, Tinisorb S, Uvinul T

Why I love it: light weight clear gel texture, water resistant, fragrance free, moisturizing, excellent chemical filters Uvinul and Tinisorb

Cons: it made me more oily but if you are normal or dry this is perfect!

Country and Stream Honey UV Water Gel SPF 50 PA++++ $18 on Beautius

Filter type: combination chemical/physical

Active ingredients: Octinoxate, Uvinul A Plus, Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide and Tinosorb S

Why I love it: light weight formula, moisturizing, this product has a cult following because it does not contain alcohol, great for dry skin

Cons: not water resistant, contains fragrance, stay away if you have a bee allergy, I found this to be a teensy bit sticky

A’pieu Power Block Aqua Sun Gel SPF 50 PA ++++ $10 on Yesstyle

Filter type: chemical

Active ingredients: Homosalate, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Amiloxate, Avobenzone

Why I love it: absorbs super fast, light weight, does not make me more oily, water resistant, contains centella extract which is calming and healing for acne

Cons: contains fragrance that lingers and can be drying

PURITO Centella Green Level Safe Sun SPF 50 PA++++ $15 on Amazon

Filter type: chemical

Active ingredients: Uvinul A and Uvinul T

Why I love it: contains centella which is soothing and healing for acne, water resistant, moisturizing

Cons: scented with lavender essential oil which can be irritating to the skin, if you are going to buy this I recommend buying the version without lavender oil here on Amazon. I really wish I got that one instead.

So that concludes my roundup and review of K beauty and J beauty sunscreens that I’ve tried. I will continue to test out and review more sunscreens and keep the blog updated. I hope this was helpful and thanks for stopping by!


If you have not watched Gothamista on youtube I highly recommend checking her out. She is a skincare guru and especially knowledgeable about Asian beauty brands and ingredients.

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