Step 10: Sunscreen
The final and most important step of your Korean Skincare routine is sunscreen! You should obviously only apply this during the day. A lot of people associate SPF (sun protection factor) with beaches and the summer, but guess what? The sun shines all year ’round, so we should always be protecting our skin. Sunscreen is all about protection and prevention from Ultra Violet (UV) ray damage and free radicals. It keeps your skin looking young and helps prevent skin cancer.
I’m sure you’ve seen older people with tons of sunspots, wrinkles, and leather-like skin. While age isn’t very forgiving to the skin, UV rays from the sun play a huge role in skin damage. It’s important to start at a young age, and if not, it’s never too late to start.
There are two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays have a long wavelength and deeply penetrate the skin. They damage the collagen in your skin, and contribute to creating cancer. UVB rays have a shorter wave length and damage the skin on a superficial level. These are the main cause of skin cancer. UVB rays also result in sunburn. Not what we want! No matter the weather, you should wear sunscreen everyday. UV rays can penetrate through clouds and rain. Staying inside? You still need sunscreen! UV rays creep in through your windows and reflect off of surfaces and mirrors.
It’s important to apply an SPF every two to three hours. It can be difficult to keep up with this in your everyday life, especially if you have makeup on. But fear not! There are SPF cushions that allow you to pat in sunscreen without disturbing your makeup. If you are swimming, you should reapply when you get out of the water. Make sure you cover your entire face (not your eyes), ears, neck, and exposed shoulders and hands.
Why choose a sunscreen specifically for your face, versus the kind for your body? Facial SPF is designed to be less greasy, lightweight, and easy to blend into the skin. Most sunscreens like this will not leave that annoying white cast either.
So how much should you apply at a time? Companies usually test about a tablespoon of product, so that means you should be using a tablespoon every time. It sounds like a lot, but UV protection comes at no cost in my opinion.
A huge misconception about sunscreen is that people of color don’t need it because they don’t burn. As a brown girl, I can tell you that is so FALSE! The sun sees every human being as they should be seen–equal. That being said, you can still burn and get skin cancer even if you are highly melanated. Please erase this myth from your minds and start protecting your skin. This is especially important for people like me who have hyperpigmentation. If you don’t wear an SPF daily, the sun will undo all your hard work and make those spots darker.
Side Note: “Sunblock” is not a thing! There is no skincare product out there that can block the sun. That is why “sunscreen” is a more appropriate name. Products like these can only create a screen that provides a UV filter.
There are two types of sunscreen out there: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreen is also called mineral sunscreen. This type of SPF sits on the skin and creates a barrier between you and the sun. Common mineral SPFs contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Physical sunscreen is more gentle on the skin and work quickly.
Chemical sunscreen’s are considered synthetic. The chemicals absorb the radiation and transform it into heat energy. Pretty cool right? Since there is a chemical process occurring here, it’s best to let this SPF sit for 15 minutes before you are exposed to the sun.
I know you’re thinking, chemicals don’t sound very good for your skin. There is some concern that chemical sunscreens absorb into the bloodstream, which can cause allergic reactions or hormone disruptions. There are also studies that show there are no bad side effects from chemical SPFs. If you feel uncertain and want to play it safe, I’d recommend sticking with physical sunscreens.
I recommend using the highest SPF, which is SPF50. This provides protection from 98% UVB rays. Using a moisturizer or makeup product with SPF often times isn’t enough. You might have seen sunscreens that say “SPF50 PA+++.” PA is a rating that determines how much UVA protection a product provides. “+++” is the highest level of protection.
You should also note that combining products with different levels of SPF doesn’t create a strong SPF. You are simply only receiving the protection of the highest SPF you applied.
Last but not least, it’s especially vital for you to protect your skin when using active ingredients like acids, vitamin C, and retinoids. These can be very reactive and cause irritation if there is no protection from the sun. Now let’s jump into some sunscreens I’ve been loving!
I discussed this SPF in my All Eye on Aloe Vera post, but it deserves another mention. This was the first true facial SPF I tried and it’s always the one I recommend to people just starting a skincare routine. Not only does it protect your skin from UV rays, but it also soothes irritation with aloe leaf extract. It’s genius! I thought this sunscreen was super moisturizing; it’s hard to find an SPF that leaves you looking dewy, not greasy, but this product got the job done! It had no white cast and absorbed right into the skin. It has a clean smell, which I found comforting. This SPF is both chemical and physical.
When I first purchased this sunscreen, it was about $11 on Amazon. It’s gone up a little since then, but I think it’s still very affordable. The product contains 1.69 oz. which is pretty good for an SPF at this price point. If you want a sunscreen that is simple, applies really well, and leaves you looking dewy fresh, give this one a try!
The cult favorite MISSHA Sun Milk is my go-to. It contains great ingredients like aloe leaf extract, green tea extract, rose bud extract, and more. This is very lightweight chemical sunscreen that leaves no cast behind, and feels very calming to the skin. It also leaves you looking dewy and fresh. There is a comforting, clean smell with hints of that classic sunscreen aroma. This SPF lasts a while and is affordable in my opinion. You can find it on Amazon or Soko Glam.
This SPF is raved about and I’m so glad I finally got to try it. It was sent to me from Soko Glam in their gym set. Here is another lightweight sunscreen that absorbs really well into the skin. It’s made with lavender oil, lemon oil, and several other natural oils. The lemon scent really comes through when you apply, so you receive a lovely aromatherapy moment. It is both a chemical and physical sunscreen. This SPF leaves my skin looking moisturized, yet matte. The tube comes with a little less than the MISSHA sunscreen. It’s a little pricier for a sunscreen, but it’s definitely worth the money. Check it out on Soko Glam.
I finally got my hands on this popular sunscreen and now I understand all the hype! This SPF includes organic chemical filters. There is beetroot extract, allantoin, vitamin C, resveratrol, and EGCG. This sunscreen is super hydrating and provides that dewy sheen that’s on trend. I can definitely smell the beet root and vitamin C in this product, and I’m not mad at it.
There has been some speculation about the alcohol (“bad” alcohol) that is included in the formula, but Krave Beauty provides more detail about why it is included on their site. It states that during testing there were no signs of irritation from the alcohol however, those with rosacea or severe skin conditions should consult a doctor. I personally did not experience any irritation from this product.
I find it to be very nourishing and I love that there is vitamin C to help lighten your complexion, while protecting you from the sun. I’m still working on the bottle I purchased and it is slightly smaller than I envisioned. I have a feeling it won’t last as long as some of the other sunscreen’s I’ve used, but with quality ingredients I can’t really complain. Find this product on Krave’s website.
Compact cushions make it easier to apply sunscreen throughout the day and over your makeup. All you have to do is squeeze a decent amount of SPF into the container, replace the spongy piece on top of it, and you’re all set! You can apply product with your cushion by patting it into the skin. Check out these empty compact cushions on Amazon for under $10.
Here’s a newer SPF I’m hoping to try soon:
Now that you’ve reached the end of your Korean Skincare routine you’re clean, deeply moisturized, protected, dewy, and ready to go out into the world! At first all the steps can seem overwhelming, but with time you’ll get used to the routine. I grew to love having time set aside just to pamper my skin. It’s the only true armor we have, so why not treat it with love and care?
What sunscreens have you guys tried lately?