This post contains affiliate links* It’s been a minute guys, but I’m baaaaaack! I had so much planned for today, but then ended up predominantly discussing the big “elephant in the room” which is the Korean sunscreen scandal that’s been rocking our usually so sweet and friendly skincare community!
Ah, forgive me everyone for having been so flaky and for the long hiatus – I could promise you that it will never happen again but… I better not make a promise I’m scared I may not be able to hold. This past year has been a nightmare for most of us, with the pandemic disrupting our lives and a number of political upheavals and conflicts rocking many countries. Here in Germany, life is still far from being back to normal, and I am still waiting impatiently to get my first vaccine shot. In all honesty, 2021 so far has been worse for me than 2020, in part because I’ve long lost my optimism and fighting spirit about a great many things going wrong lately. But, hey, this doesn’t mean I have lost my deep love and passion for all things K-beauty, including sharing my thoughts about awesome and exciting Korean and other Asian beauty products with you.
For the next couple of episodes of The K-Beauty Podcast, I thought we could just do a casual, potentially slightly chaotic K-beauty catch up. You know, just getting reacquainted with each other and touching on some of the subjects that have been causing controversy. I actually wanted to do one giant episode, but then realised while recording that splitting the contents I plan to discuss would be much better so as not to overwhelm either you or me. So, today’s episode will focus on detangling the Korean sunscreen scandal that’s been causing so much drama in the skincare world and give some recommendations in terms of reliable and trustworthy Korean sunscreens.
Even though I am a bit reluctant to talk about this whole sunscreen scandal because I’m rather tired of the whole thing being exploited for “drama clicks”, I will try my best to unravel what happened, mostly referring to the excellent research work other, far more amazing beauty and science experts have done. Thus, I encourage, nay, beseech you to check out the resources linked in these episode notes, because I don’t want to live off the original work of these awesome people. Please, give them a follow, like and watch their videos with the ads on to give them some well-deserved coin!
Here is episode TWENTY-SIX of The K-Beauty Podcast: (Reluctantly) Discussing the Korean Sunscreen Scandal
Episode Notes: (Reluctantly) Discussing the Korean Sunscreen Scandal
Essential reading (and viewing) to understand the Korean sunscreen scandal:
- Read the original Incidecoder post that started this whole crazy development
- Watch Labmuffin’s video explaining how SPF testing works and what some inherent problems with the rating system and testing parameters are
- PLEASE also watch Odile Monod’s excellent video explaining in detail how the manufacturing process in the Korean beauty industry works and how a loophole in the regulatory system led to sunscreens not being tested properly
- Director Pi also explains what happened regarding the loophole in this very interesting video, (switch on English subs for the video, also watch part 2 if you understand Korean to get some very revealing additional info – the gist of this second video was kindly translated into English in this Reddit forum thread!)
- I also found her latest 2021 Top of Tops sunscreen video super helpful, since it exclusively features sunscreen recommendations where the SPF rating was confirmed through in vitro tests
- Jude from Fifty Shades of Snail also has a very level-headed and balanced article on the whole issue that is worth a read!
- Here is a video by Insuk Ahn, the CEO Korean Institute of Dermatological Science, where she tested a few sunscreens, but couldn’t reveal the products due to legal reasons, plus her recommended sunscreens that passed the testing process
- This article from a Singaporean site lists some of the sunscreens that were affected in the scandal
- Klairs’ official statement about their sunscreens including the final ratings
- Purito’s official statement about their sunscreens on Instagram
- The official statement from Krave Beauty regarding their sunscreen, notice how when the Purito scandal hit, Krave at first released statements saying they had “full confidence” in “our sunscreen formulator” – notice also how the language tries to imply that they are the ones basically creating the product formula with “their” formulator, which isn’t fully transparent, as they are using an ODM/OEM, who as we know have formulated the products for them and can resell/reuse a similar formula for other brands
- In case you are curious, here is a timeline of that horse meat scandal I mention in the episode – I actually didn’t know that it started in Ireland! I honestly only remember this vaguely because 2013 was one of the worst years of my life, and horse meat in beef lasagne was the least of my worries back then!
These are the sunscreens that were affected by the Korean sunscreen scandal of 2020/21:
- Purito Centella Green Level Unscented Sunscreen – out of stock/taken off the market
- Purito Centella Green Level Safe Sun – out of stock/taken off the market
- Purito Comfy Water Sun Block – out of stock/taken off the market
- Krave Beet Shield (also called “Beet The Sun”) – out of stock/taken off the market
- Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence – out of stock/taken off the market
- Klairs Mid-Day Blue UV Shield – out of stock/taken off the market
- Keep Cool Soothe Bamboo Sun Essence – out of stock/taken off the market
- B.LAB I am Sorry Just Sun Cream – seems to be out of stock (I can’t actually find a confirmed source for this being affected by the scandal, so take this one with a grain of salt, BUT it isn’t sold anymore from what I can tell)
- Be Plain Clean Ocean Moisture Sunscreen – out of stock/taken off the market; I believe this is being renewed/reformulated (mentioned in this Reddit post)
- Round Lab Birch Moisturizing Sun Cream – out of stock, is now renewed and the new version is made by Kolmar Korea + the accurate SPF rating has been confirmed through independent testing
- Dr. Ceuracle Cica Regen Anti Dust Sun Gel – out of stock/taken off the market
- There are other sunscreens that were suspected to be embroiled in the scandal because they were quietly removed from the market at the end of 2020/beginning of 2021, but I couldn’t find definite proof for this, so I am not naming them here
Important background information regarding the rise in hate crimes against Asian immigrants worldwide:
- Covid hate crimes on the rise against Asian Americans (BBC article)
- This Harvard Business Review article offers a historic overview of the roots for anti Asian sentiments and racist hatred against Asian Americans
- Another excellent (and heartbreaking) historical deep-dive into anti Asian racism in America
- I am deeply saddened that this also happens in my country, where the Asian immigrant community is very small and often isolated
- PBS has collected resources on how to support the Asian American community
- CNN also offers an overview of resources and active action steps we can take to protect Asian communities
Sunscreens that have passed retesting and/or have been proven to be their stated SPF value/sunscreens that were renewed or newly released in 2021:
- Round Lab Birch Moisturizing Sun Cream with SPF50+ PA++++ – you can purchase this at Olive Young*, it is also available at Stylevana*, but I am not 100% sure if this is the renewed version
- Thank You Farmer Sun Project Water Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++ – you can purchase this at Stylevana*, it is available at Yesstyle*, and even at Cult Beauty*
- D’Alba Waterful Essence with SPF50+ PA++++ – this is available at Yesstyle* or at Stylevana*, Germans can also find this at K-beauty House*
- Make P:rem UV Defense Me Calming Tone Up Sun Cream SPF50+ PA++++ – you can find this at Stylevana* or at Olive Young*, it may also soon be back in stock at Yesstyle*
- Dr. G Medi UV Ultra Sun SPF50+ PA+++ – purchase this at Yesstyle* or at Stylevana*
- IOPE UV Shield Sun Protector XP SPF50+ PA++++ – this is available at Amazon*
- HYGGEE Real Sun Cream SPF50+ PA++++ – you can find this at Stylevana* or at Stylekorean*
- ISNTREE Hyaluronic Acid Watery Sun Gel SPF50+ PA++++ – buy this at Yesstyle* or at Stylevana*, Germans can also find it at Amazon Germany*
- ISNTREE Hyaluronic Acid Perfect Sun Block SPF50+ PA++++ – buy this at Stylevana*, Germans can also purchase the sunscreen at Amazon Germany*
- Neogen Dermalogy Day-Light Protection Airy Sunscreen with SPF50 – buy at Yesstyle*
- Scinic Enjoy Super Mild Sun Essence SPF50+ PA++++ – buy at Olive Young* or at Yesstyle*
- AHC Safe On Light Sun Serum SPF50+ PA++++ – buy at Olive Young*
I hope I could help you unravel this whole Korean sunscreen controversy a bit and restore your faith in K-beauty in unstructured, very much unscripted and pretty spontaneous K-beauty catch up. Sorry for any audio glitches and low quality issues, my mic has just been acting up like crazy unfortunately!
Remember to subscribe on ITunes for new podcast episodes, or subscribe on Stitcher or Spotify! Stay up to date about K-beauty news and trends by following me on Instagram and visit the ever-growing English article section of this blog. Thank you to those of you kept asking for new episodes, and those who stayed loyal to this podcast even when it kept going dormant. And as always, all my gratitude goes out to those of you who are using the affiliate links on this blog when making your beauty purchases to support my work as a freelance content creator, and of course those of you who donate to my ko-fi page or directly to my Paypal! Your help is everything!
Let me know in the comments: What are your thoughts on all the controversies rocking the skincare world lately? I MISSED YOU GUYS!
Take care, guys!
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