Abo says she likes sunscreens from Korean and American brands, but explains that the brightening effects, lighter finishes and easier applicators are some of the reasons many people love Korean sunscreens. “And most Korean sunscreens use much milder formulas, natural, unique, non-harsh ingredients,” she says. “Many of them incorporate skincare benefits such as hydration, brightening, evening complexion, etc.
One thing to keep in mind is that some Korean sunscreens contain Diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate, which is a UV filter with strong UVA absorption for enhanced protection. This chemical is not approved by the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA), so it is not found in US sunscreens, but it has been approved as safe by Europe and Asian countries.
One difference you may notice directly on the bottles is that they list a PA rating, which stands for UVA protection. “The PA rating takes into account the degree of protection the sunscreen has against UVA rays and the development of skin pigmentation with PA++++ conferring the highest level of UVA protection,” says Dr. Park. American sunscreens traditionally only list SPF, which Dr. Park says only measures how well a sunscreen works in protecting the skin from UVB rays. According to skin cancer foundation, the difference between UVA rays and UVB rays is simple; UVA rays have a longer wavelength and are associated with aging and wrinkles, while UVB rays are shorter and can cause sunburn. Knowing your sunscreen’s SPF and PA ratings can give you some peace of mind knowing that both of your bases are covered.