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This £16 Korean Sunscreen Is So Good, You’ll Ditch All The Others

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Photo: Courtesy of Venus Wong.
As someone who tries her very hardest to be diligent with sunscreen application, I’ve made peace with the fact that it will always leave a slightly icky feeling on my skin. Don’t get me wrong: There is a plethora of suncare products boasting lightweight formulations and comfortable finishes but despite all that, I still get that weird sensation of something stretched over my pores. Whether I am using a mineral or chemical sunscreen, by the end of the day the combination of product, pollutants and sweat tends to leave my pores feeling clogged. The only way to get rid of that sensation is a thorough double cleanse but it can feel like such a chore.
So I’m happy to report that I’ve found a solution to this particular bugbear. Enter: Beauty of Joseon Relief Sun Rice + Probiotics SPF 50+, £15.50. This product has quite the reputation. In a recent discussion about sunscreen (of which there are many), Refinery29 Beauty Director Sara Tan declared herself “team Beauty of Joseon forever”. Another R29 Most Wanted teammate, Becca Sax, also named it her favourite suncare product. Team R29 aren't the brand's only fans, though. Reviews of this affordable SPF have gone viral on TikTok multiple times over; even dermatologists are sold.
You may not have heard of the brand but Beauty of Joseon is a household name in South Korea — it's so popular, in fact, that it was included in a recent V&A exhibition about the country’s global cultural influence. I trust any K-beauty product implicitly so I was eager to pick up this much-loved bestseller on a recent trip to Seoul. Happily, it's now available in the UK at retailers such as Beauty Bay, Superdrug and Amazon. Read ahead to find out why this sunscreen is a cut above the rest.
The first thing that piqued my interest about this product is its unusual star ingredient: rice. The “rice” in question is actually rice water, which makes up 30% of the formula. It’s found in a lot of prestige Japanese and Korean skincare brands, and has been lauded for centuries for its ability to calm and hydrate the skin. Also on the ingredients list are probiotics extracted from fermented grains, which are rich in vitamin C (an antioxidant with brightening properties), vitamin E (reduces inflammation) and amino acids, which soothe redness, moisturise and balance the skin’s pH levels. There is also glycerin, a humectant that draws moisture into the skin, and niacinamide, a buzzy ingredient that, combined with SPF, further protects skin from the environment.
Squeezing the sunscreen from the tube, I was surprised by the texture, which is velvety yet lightweight. It sank into my skin right away. This is a chemical SPF, which means it absorbs and neutralises UV rays instead of deflecting them (as a mineral sunscreen would do). Chemical sunscreens tend to have lighter formulations and sure enough, this didn’t sting my eyes or leave a white cast. It also offers broad spectrum protection, shielding the skin against UVA (the rays responsible for premature ageing and skin cancer) and UVB (the rays which cause sunburn).
Two bean-sized dollops was enough to cover my face and make it feel nourished. (Dermatologists recommend a teaspoonful of sunscreen for the face and neck but if you’re unsure, consider the viral “two finger” application method.) After applying the sunscreen, my skin felt smooth and plump, without a hint of the stickiness you so often get from SPF — this is because it's non-comedogenic, meaning it's less likely to clog your pores. My makeup sat beautifully over the top, too, without pilling or any visible texture. Those with reactive skin will also be pleased to hear that this product is fragrance-free.
This sunscreen would be a great fit for any skin type but it’s especially perfect for people with oily skin, like my colleague Becca. “This sunscreen is super lightweight and doesn’t feel greasy after a while, which is a miracle for an oily girl like me,” she says. “I sweat a lot and yet the product still persists.”
After using this sun cream daily for two weeks, I can say that it’s worth every bit of the social media hype. On more than one occasion I actually reapplied after half an hour or so — not because it wasn't doing its job but because I forgot I had sunscreen on at all. And since it's now available in the UK via Beauty Bay for £15.50, you won’t have to fork out for a cross-continental flight to get your hands on it (although a sunscreen that feels like a joy to reapply might just be worth it...).

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