I've said this hundreds of times before, but I'll glad tell y'all again (bc it's that important): Daily sunscreen is hands down the most essential step in any skincare routine. Not only does daily sunscreen prevent premature skin aging (hello, fine lines and dark spots), it protects you from skin cancer as well. That said, I'll be the first to admit that finding the right sunscreen for your specific skin type and concerns isn't exactly easy, especially since there's no "one size fits all" when it comes to SPF. And if you're still on the hunt for that perfect formula, it might be time to start exploring one of the many excellent Korean sunscreens on the market right now.
Sunscreen is huge in the Korean skincare world, and unlike most SPFs, a lot of these formulas are spiked with impressive skincare ingredients (think: niacinamide for brightening, aloe vera for soothing, or lightweight oils for moisturizing). The best part? If you aren't a fan of traditional cream-based SPFs, there's a ton of variety in the texture and feel of Korean sunscreens, whether you're looking for a sunscreen that's totally clear, a mineral sunscreen that leaves your skin all soft and dewy, or a tinted sunscreen that gives you the most gorgeous glow.
Our top picks for best Korean sunscreen for 2022:
1Best Korean Sunscreen for Beach DaysA'pieu Pure Block Waterproof Sunscreen Cream SPF50+/PA+++ 50ml | Sweat-proof Korean Sunscreen for Outdoor Activities Read More
2Best Korean Sunscreen for Dry SkinLaneige Hydro UV Defense Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ Read More
3Best Multitasking Korean SunscreenGlow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Sunscreen SPF 50 Read More
4Best Korean Sunscreen with CoveragePerfect Cover BB Cream SPF 42 PA+++ Read More
5Best Lightweight Korean SunscreenIsntree Hyaluronic Acid Watery Sun Gel SPF 50+ PA++++ Read More
Down to give one a try? Keep scrolling for the 15 best Korean sunscreens—one of which definitely deserves a spot in your daily lineup.
- Water-resistant formula is ideal for outdoors activities
- Some testers said it irritated their sensitive skin
Meet your new summer sunscreen. The SPF lotion is water and sweat resistant, making it ideal for hot, humid weather and when you're swimming and/or sweating. The non-sticky formula is even designed to help prevent sand from clinging to your skin when you're hanging at the beach too. Genius, right?
THE REVIEW: "It is so hard to find sunscreens that make my skin feel protected without leaving a cast, but this one is perfect," says a tester. "You don’t have to rub it in much to relieve the initial cast either."
- Contains moisturizing ingredients to smooth and plump skin
- Some reviewers say the scent can linger on skin throughout the day
As anyone with dry skin knows well, slathering a thick dollop of sunscreen all over your face is basically a recipe for creating more dryness. Enter, this Korean sunscreen for dry skin: It is loaded with hydrating ingredients like mineral rich water and glycerin that help keep your skin soft and silky as hell. And since it absorbs into your skin super quickly, it's also very easy to reapply throughout the day too.
THE REVIEW: "I'm loving this sunscreen! I have dry skin and have been using this instead of moisturizer. It’s very hydrating but doesn’t leave me greasy or ashy—just glowy."
- Contains skin-friendly ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide
- Some reviews say it doesn't always layer well with makeup
This sunscreen from K-beauty brand Glow Recipe is the ultimate do-it-all product. It protects from UVA and UVB damage with a blend of mineral and chemical sunscreen ingredients, hydrates with hyaluronic acid, brightens dark spots and refines skin texture with niacinamide, and soothes inflammation with aloe vera extract. TL;DR: This pick is literally does it all.
THE REVIEW: "I recently tried this sunscreen on a vacation to Phoenix where it was 105 degrees all week. My very pale, cotton ball-white skin was wearing this product all week and I didn’t burn at all."
- Covers up discolorations and breakouts
- Comes in a limited number of shades
BB creams, like this top-rated one from Missha, are K-Beauty staples. Think of it as sunscreen with makeup benefits: the medium coverage formula easily hides discoloration and breakouts for an even-looking glow while protecting skin with broad-spectrum SPF 42.
THE REVIEW: "I love this BB cream," says one tester, adding that "it’s coverage is amazing and the formula blends out well too."
- Has a lightweight, gel-like texture
- Some reviewers complained it has a strong, powdery scent
I get it: Traditional sunscreens can feel super tight or heavy on your skin (especially during hot, humid-ass months). That's where this lightweight Korean SPF comes into play—it has a water-like gel texture that soaks into skin zero residue and protects your skin from harmful UV rays with SPF 50. Plus, it's loaded with hyaluronic acid to plump and hydrate your skin as well.
THE REVIEW: "This stuff is lovely. It's very moisturizing but sinks in relatively quickly and it plays well with any products I wear underneath," writes one tester.
- Compact packaging is ideal for on-the-go application
- Must be layered with another form of SPF for adequate protection
If you have a hard time remembering to reapply your sunscreen the recommended every two hours, you'll appreciate the convenience of this SPF compact. The lightweight tinted formula protects your skin without drying it out and it's easy to tap over your face (and on top of makeup!) when it's time to reapply.
THE REVIEW: "Literally the best product ever for my sensitive skin! The coverage is great, it protects from the sun, and the green tea extract leaves my skin feeling so fresh!"
- Most affordable option on the list
- Some reviewers say the scent is overwhelming
Korean sunscreen doesn't have to cut into your budget, btw. With a solid SPF 36, an ultra-light cream texture, and soothing ingredients (hi, panthenol), this affordable pick is just as effective as its pricier counterparts. Another plus? You won't find any parabens or animal-derived ingredients in this formula.
THE REVIEW: "I highly recommend this to anyone struggling to find a cheap sunscreen that doesn’t break you out," says a reviewer. "I have been using it for about a year now with no issues."
- Gentle formula is ideal for easily irritated skin types
- Some testers say the formula is prone to pilling
If your skin is easily irritated, you'll love this gentle Korean sunscreen for sensitive skin. Not only is it filled with SPF 35, but it's also spiked with centella asiatica and aloe leaf extracts to help hydrate and calm your skin every time you apply it. Bonus: No need to worry about a white cast or greasy finish with this one.
THE REVIEW: "This sunscreen is incredibly soothing, refreshing, and leaves my skin with a pleasant, dewy finish," writes one tester.
- Has hydrating and soothing properties
- Some testers say it's not suitable for oily skin types
The hero ingredient in this Korean sunscreen (other than the SPF 50, obvs) is aloe leaf extract—and it's a legit godsend for lightly moisturizing and soothing your skin. Smooth a thin layer over your face every morning and you'll love how fast it melts into your skin.
THE REVIEW: "Sunscreen always feels sticky or greasy, or burns around my eyes, or makes my skin break out but this one is a game changer, says one tester, adding "it feels like a light moisturizer—I throw it on every morning and it absorbs quickly."
- Helps minimize excess shine throughout the day
- Some reviewers say it's similar to other less expensive formulas
The best thing about this oil-free Korean sunscreen? It layers super nicely under makeup, so you won't get any of that awkward pilling or caking. It also has a subtle color-correcting base, so it'll help cancel out minor redness and dark spots before you even apply the rest of your products. A win-win, truly.
THE REVIEW: "I've been using this for several years," reads one review. "It has a great texture and smells nice without being too overpowering."
- Contains anti-aging ingredients to improve skin tone and texture
- Some reviewers say it can leave behind a white cast on skin
A combination of peptides, ceramides, and collagen makes this Korean sunscreen a great option for plumping and firming the skin as you protect it from the sun. And since it's got a lightweight texture, it's super easy to blend into your skin (even if you plan on wearing it under makeup).
THE REVIEW: "I love how strong this sunscreen is even though it has a light feel," says one tester. "I keep it in gym bag so I'm protected during and after my workouts."
- Light-reflecting pigments help brighten up dull skin
- May make look oily skin types appear overly greasy
Not into the matte look? This Korean sunscreen leaves your face with the prettiest glow (it's almost like an SPF that's spiked with highlighter). And with hydrating and soothing add-ons like niacinamide and aloe leaf extract, it feels really nice on your skin too. Look towards this one when you're going for that dewy, no-makeup makeup vibe.
THE REVIEW: "I really like that this SPF has natural glow and provides an excellent base for my makeup," says one tester. "It has a super-thin, almost watery cream texture with a pink shimmer."
- Great for dry and combination skin types
- Some reviewers say the texture can feel sticky
There's a reason this Korean SPF has earned cult-like status. It doesn't have that overwhelming sunscreen scent, it feels light and non-greasy, and it blends into a smooth finish with zero white cast. P.S. This one's also got rose and raspberry extracts, which adds a nice dose of moisture.
THE REVIEW: "This sunscreen is everything I've ever wanted and more, I'm obsessed," says one tester, adding that "the creamy formula blends beautifully into my skin and is hydrating without being greasy."
- Contains mattifying powder to keep excess shine in check
- Not suitable for dry skin types
Fact: Oily skin requires hydration—and this lightweight, milky sunscreen for oily skin is prepared to take you there without all the heaviness. It feels soft and subtle on the skin, and it dries down into a breathable finish that lasts through sweat and humidity.
THE REVIEW: "This is so much better than all the other daily sunscreens I've tried," reads on review. "It dries without any greasy residue and provides a smooth base for foundation."
- Generous size bottle is great for use on face and body
- Contains essential oils that may be irritating for some skin types
IDK about you, but I hate using my itty-bitty facial sunscreens all over my body. That's why I love this Korean face and body SPF—it's easy to distribute all over your skin and the bottle is a great size for regular use.
THE REVIEW: "The sunscreen does not emphasize the flaky spots on my face like some sunscreens do. It doesn't clump, pill, peel, or transfer either. It's nearly perfect."
How to choose a Korean sunscreen:
Opt for a formula with SPF 30 or more
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone—regardless of skin type or tone—use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or more every single day. Also a must: choosing a formula that's labeled "broad-spectrum", meaning it shields skin from both UVB *and* UVA rays.
Pay attention to the "protection grade of UVA"
Many Korean sunscreens use PA grading, a system established in Japan that indicates how much UVA protection a specific sunscreen provides. UVA rays are primarily responsible for skin cancer and skin aging, so protecting yourself from them on a daily basis is key for healthy skin. An SPF with a PA+ rating offers some UVA protection, PA++ offers moderate UVA protection, PA+++ offers high UVA protection, and PA++++ offers very high UVA protection
Choose the right texture for your skin type
Korean sunscreens are known for their unique textures and formats which is great if you hate the feeling of traditional sunscreen but def overwhelming if you're new to the whole K-beauty scene. As a rule, sunscreen essences, gels, and waters are best for oily skin types and sunscreen creams, milks, and lotions are best for drier skin types.
Why trust Cosmo?
Lauren Balsamo is the deputy beauty director at Cosmopolitan with eight years of experience researching, writing, and editing skincare stories that range from the laser skin tightening to the best drugstore sunscreens. She’s an authority in all skincare categories, but is an expert when it comes to K-Beauty face and body sunscreens for all skin types and conditions. She regularly tests and analyzes Korean sunscreens for efficacy, while working with the industry’s top dermatologists and estheticians to assess new formulas and brands.
Ruby Buddemeyer was the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan for nearly three years, and has five years of experience writing about beauty, fashion, and celebrity news across print and digital, like the best face toners and the top moisturizers for oily skin. She curated her Korean sunscreen picks through product testing, researching, and reading reviews.