Confession: before moving back to Korea, I rarely wore sunscreen. Maybe reached for it once in a blue moon, I’d say. I knew it was important to protect your skin, but since young age, I had a strong aversion towards sunscreen. It was thick, sticky, and had a funny smell that made me gag. Don’t even get me started on how much it hurt when it got in the eyes!!! Another big reason I didn’t wear sunscreen was because I used to associate sunscreen with being pale or maintaining paleness. And I was not about that. I wanted to be a tanned, bronzed goddess and didn’t want any barrier to get in the way of achieving that. (never did, FYI)
When I came back to Korea, I merely rolled my eyes at Koreans’ obsession with sunscreen. Because whiteness is still upheld as a desired trait in Korea, I assumed that’s why sunscreen was a huge part of every Korean women’s (and men too!) beauty arsenal. When my friends and coworkers found out that I rarely wore sunscreen, they were appalled and worried for my skin. I nonchalantly brushed off their worries and went on about my life.
A few months later, and a handful of comments later, I started to notice that my face looked duller and didn’t look as firm as before. I initially brushed it off, thinking that it was just a part of the natural aging process. But when I started to compare my face with my peers’ in Korea, it almost seemed like they were aging backward. LIKE HOW???
The answer was sun protection. Now, if you’re at this point and you still hate sunscreen, I highly encourage you to give sunscreen a chance. Actually, It’s not an option – it’s a MUST.SPF plays an important role in blocking out harmful UVB rays that contribute to aging or skin cancer. That’s why my skin looked so poorly because it was so stressed out from the intense sunlight.
Since the discovery, I made an effort to incorporate sunscreen into my skincare routine. Although it didn’t reverse any of the damages done, (what’s done is done, my friend… *SOB*) I noticed that it significantly slowed down the aging process and gave my skin more time to bounce back to a healthier state.
If you’re looking for options on the market, I highly recommend the following three products (2 Korean, 1 non-Korean) that I have personally tried and loved:
- IOPE UV Shield Sun Protector SPF 50+ PA+++
This baby leans slightly towards the luxury category, sitting at around 32,000KRW or approximately 30USD. But I promise you it’s worth every penny. The reason why I love this stuff is because it’s literally featherweight and you don’t feel like you’re wearing anything! It also doesn’t have that funny smell I hate which is another huge plus!
- CLIO Kill Protection Perfect Sun Cream SPF 59+ PA+++
I seriously love a good multi-functional product. Like this gem from CLIO. This product not only has ample protection but also acts as a brightening makeup base. And it has this particular fragrant that’s very subtle but very pleasant – always a bonus in my book!
- Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30-55
This was actually the first sunscreen I actually enjoyed using. Neutrogena really did a nice job of delivering the product as the title states. Although it still has that very faint SPF scent, I barely notice it unless I take a good sniff at it. I also like that it has varying SPF intensity options so you can choose whichever one you find suitable.