18 K-beauty sunscreens you can shop in the US

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While there are certainly some viral skin care trends that are questionable, there’s one that experts, influencers and beauty editors agree on: Korean sunscreens are just better than any you’ll find in the US market.

Dr. Zion Ko Lamm, a board-certified internal medicine physician who has become a popular voice for K-beauty skin care on social media, says that there are two main reasons Korean sunscreens are superior to those made in America. “One, in South Korea, skin care is less of a chore and more of a lifestyle,” she notes. “The formulations are more convenient to use, they can even be used over makeup to allow for reapplication during the day and typically leave less white cast. Two, South Korea does not have to wait on the [US Food and Drug Administration] to approve new ingredients.”

While South Korea’s innovation has led to more refined sunscreens thanks to new filters, the US continues to limit its parameters for sun protection. According to this year’s guide to safe suncreens from the Environmental Working Group, the FDA has only named two ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (both mineral sunscreen filters), as generally safe and effective, while it determined that 12 other commonly found chemical sunscreen ingredients (including avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate and octisalate) should be further tested for safety. Chemical sunscreen filters absorb UV rays, while mineral filters create a physical layer that reflect UV rays from the skin.

“South Korea has a range of UV filters that aren’t approved in the US. These UV filters are chemical filters that are more cosmetically elegant,” says Dr. David Kim, a board-certified dermatologist who has learned about the ins and outs of the sunscreen industry while creating his own SPF, Lightsaver.

And while you might not recognize the active ingredients in Korean sunscreens, Ko Lamm assures they provide ample protection due to South Korea’s grading system. “The US uses SPF, which focuses on UVB light and measures how protected you are from burning,” she explains. “South Korea uses the PA system, which focuses on UVA light and measures how protected you are from developing pigmentation.” That’s why you’ll see a range of PA+ to PA++++ on the packaging of some sunscreens (some US brands have adopted this too), with the latter having the highest amount of protection. “UVB rays are typically shorter-wave rays that burn the surface of the skin, whereas UVA rays are longer-wave and penetrate more deeply into the skin, possibly affecting genetic material leading to onset of cancer, plus UVA rays are what’s attributed to advancing the visible signs of aging,” Ko Lamm says.

With skinfluencers and experts touting the benefits of Korean sunscreens on social media, the products have become easier to get your hands on — but it’s also brought a wave of counterfeit products, like the beauty equivalent of buying a fake designer bag. So how can you avoid getting duped?

“When buying online, choose authorized distributors and don’t buy Korean products from other countries,” advises Ko Lamm. Some verified retailers she trusts are YesStyle, Soko Glam, StyleKorean, Stylevana, Olive Young and iHerb. Many Korean brands, such as CosRX and Beauty of Joseon, ship to the US directly, too.

And sure, you can also find plenty of K-beauty brands on Amazon — but this is where you’ll also run into a lot of counterfeit Korean sunscreens, so you’ll want to be cautious of where the product is actually coming from. As Kim notes, “It’s best to purchase these from the brand’s own Amazon shops,” which will have a dedicated branded page and will be indicated on the product’s listing.

It’s likely that your favorite beauty influencers have an Amazon storefront, which can be a good starting point for finding vetted sellers as well. Ava Lee, a K-beauty enthusiast and the content creator behind the jello skin trend, says that she will reach out to brands selling on Amazon to confirm which listings are authentic and only include those on her Amazon storefront. And if you want to double-check yourself, skin care aficionado Charlotte Palermino explains how to look for official brand sellers and verify authenticity in the TikTok below.

Moreover, Ko Lamm warns that, “If the price has a big discount or is a lot cheaper than what you see in the store, it’s probably fake.”

So now that you know what to look for, check out the 18 best K-beauty sunscreens that have superior formulas you’ll never get tired of reapplying.

Kim and Lee love the soothing centenella in this viral serum-like sunscreen. Its advanced formula features UV filters not approved by the FDA, which allow it to have a “very lightweight texture [that] blends in well with all skin types and colors,” says Kim, with Lee adding that it’s “best for those with sensitive skin.” The pick often gets put head-to-head against Beauty of Joseon’s sunscreen, as both are lightweight, soft and virtually invisible.

Lee says Beauty of Joseon’s ultra-popular (and often counterfeited) sunscreen is “the best bang for your buck.” Ko Lamm also loves the hydrating formula, calling out the antioxidant benefits of the rice extract and fermented grains. Overall, it’s “just a stellar product,” says Lee.

On Kim and Ko Lamm’s lists of top sunscreens, Round Lab’s Sun Cream is often cited as Korea’s number 1 SPF. Ko Lamm says that it is “soft, creamy and hydrating,” with Kim adding that the birch juice is “soothing to the skin.”

Featured in numerous TikToks, this sunscreen is a chemical and physical hybrid formula and one of Ko Lamm’s favorites. Because it contains mineral filters, it does take some time to blend in, however, those who prefer a true cream texture will appreciate its buttery consistency.

Available at Sephora, Innisfree offers one of the most affordable and accessible K-beauty sunscreens out there. It’s a solid option with broad spectrum SPF 36 protection and a seamless formula that won’t leave a white cast.

Ko Lamm recommends this “lightweight, chemical sunscreen that feels like your skin.” You can be confident in its sun protection thanks to a seal of approval from the Skin Cancer Foundation and a published report on its SPF claims. In terms of skin benefits, Ko Lamm also shares that it “contains beetroot extract to help fight against environmental aggressors.”

SPF-infused makeup is an easy way to add more sun protection into your routine (although you should still apply traditional SPF underneath makeup, too). Reviewers love this sunscreen-foundation hybrid for its lightweight feel and buildable coverage. Plus, it comes with a refill, so you get double the product, making the higher price tag well worth it.

Tocobo’s viral sun stick is a great SPF sidekick to have when reapplying SPF on the go. It won’t smudge or transfer makeup, and as this TikToker shows, it doesn’t add extra shine.

This derm-approved, bestselling sunscreen has a fluid formula that is nourishing yet non-greasy. Glycerin, aloe and antioxidant-rich plant extracts moisturize alongside the broad-spectrum SPF 50+ protection.

A K-beauty sunscreen that uses US filters (octocrylene, homosalate and avobenzone), Neogen’s Airy Sunscreen is a top-rated choice for its quick and invisible application. Reviewers say it doesn’t pill under or over makeup, doesn’t have a white cast and is “close to perfect as any sunscreen could be,” as one person wrote.

Based in California but made in Korea, Jaxon Lane’s products aim to simplify skin care for men, but are suitable for all. I’m a fan of the Rain or Shine SPF for its fluid and fast-absorbing formula. It dries down quickly and acts as a nice primer for makeup, too.

This award-winning sunscreen comes from a K-beauty brand inspired by the white truffle and the place of its harvest, Italy’s Piedmont region. With a refined, silky texture and an antioxidant-rich formula, the white-truffle-infused sunscreen defends the skin on multiple levels.

This new moisturizing sunscreen is already getting glowing reviews on social media thanks to its blend of skin care ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5, along with its SPF 50 protection and PA+++ rating. It uses US chemical sunscreen filters but gives a “glass skin”-like effect that rivals formulas manufactured in Korea.

In Korea, sunscreen cushions are a popular way to reapply SPF over makeup thanks to their portability and blendability. Innisfree’s Sun Cushion includes a mirror and puff, so you can keep sun protection at your fingertips.

As this TikToker shows, it’s as simple as pressing the included puff into the sunscreen cushion and then patting it onto the skin to evenly distribute the product.

This viral sunscreen is particularly great for oily skin types and for a seamless base under makeup. One TikToker explains that the physical UV filter used, zinc oxide, is a mild astringent, so it will help with oil control and minimizing the look of pores. On the flip side, those with dry skin types may want to steer clear, as this quality can make the skin feel drier.

Reviewers across skin types and tones rave about this mineral sunscreen’s lack of white cast and comfortable feel. It includes zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as physical filters to block UV rays and protect the skin.

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