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This review contains affiliate links* Last year’s scandal has made people unsure about Korean sunscreens – but there is no reason to be scared, thanks to a number of new generation, safe and tested sunscreen options. The newly reformulated Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream SPF50+ PA++++ is exactly that type of sunscreen, so let’s find out why it’s so immensely popular in Korea!
Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream – So… Can We Still Trust Korean Sunscreens?!
When news of the Korean sunscreen scandal hit the net last year, many people were confused and unsure if they could ever trust Korean sunscreens again. Sadly, misinformation and fear-mongering spread like wildfire, in large parts thanks to sensationalist videos from influencers who, quite frankly, had very little knowledge about the situation, merely piggybacking off all that delicious, delicious drama. I myself found the discourse around the scandal rather unbearable, especially when seeing so many fellow white bloggers and influencers dramatically swear off Korean sunscreens, praising the superiority of European sunscreens or declaring that you could only trust Japanese sunscreens, that Korean products were simply too badly regulated. Which – is not true. And – also racist/xenophobic, swearing off a country’s entire industry because of one regulatory mistake. Just research how many scandals your country’s various manufacturing industries had, you may be surprised.
So in case you don’t know what went down back in 2020, and what the whole sunscreen debacle was all about, you can listen to my podcast episode devoted to the scandal, and I also want to yet again warmly recommend watching Odile Monod’s outstanding video about what really went down. Basically, the fault lies with two big name manufacturers who, thanks to a by now closed loophole within the regulatory processes, were able to dilute a sunscreen formula without needing to re-test it, resulting in those comfortably light sunscreen textures that ultimately didn’t offer the UV protection that was advertised (because SPF ratings were based on the original formula, not the lighter, diluted one).
The Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream with SPF50+ and PA++++ was actually one of the sunscreens affected by the scandal. However, Round Lab did not hesitate even for a second and instantly sprang into action, taking the product off the market and developing an entirely new product under the same name. The new, 2020 version of the Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream was manufactured by Kolmar Korea, one of the superstar sunscreen manufacturers in the country, whose sunscreen formulas all passed SPF retesting with flying colours. So, there is no need to be scared of this new and improved formula – on the contrary, this sunscreen probably went through more independent testing than some Euro sunscreens ever will.
Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream SPF50+: Number One in Korea!
No matter where you look when it comes to either beauty awards or bestseller lists from various drugstores in Korea, you will find the Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream on top! Truly, this is one of, if not the most popular sunscreen in Korea at the moment, which is of course why I was so keen to try it.
I have written about Round Lab on this blog before, a brand that prides itself on “clean” formulas with minimalist ingredients that pose as little of an irritation risk as possible. Their incredibly gentle, consciously simplistic DOKDO 1025 Toner is another long-time bestseller and ward-winning product, as is most of the DOKDO line. If you have hyper sensitive skin, the (mostly) fragrance- and alcohol-free Round Lab products are a pretty safe choice (personal sensitivities aside). And, well, thanks to constant mask wearing, more and more people are looking for extra gentle skincare, certainly one of the reasons why “clean” or “natural” beauty is currently trending globally. Personally, I don’t consider “clean” or “natural” synonymous with “safe” and find that type of marketing woefully misleading, but when it comes to Round Lab, there is no doubt that they really are taking their mission to formulate low irritant skincare very seriously indeed.
Here is the full list of ingredients for the Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream SPF50+ PA++++:
“Water, Dibutyl Adipate, Propanediol, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Ethylhexyl Triazone, Niacinamide, Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl Tetramethylbutylphenol, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Caprylyl Methicone, Diethylhexyl Butamido Triazone, Glycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Butylene Glycol, Betula Platyphylla Japonica Juice, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Glyceryl Glucoside, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Allantoin, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Artemisia Annua Extract, Pinus Sylvestris Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita Flower Oil, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Ethylhexylglycerin, Ascorbic Acid, Adenosine, Pentylene Glycol, Behenyl Alcohol, Poly C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Decyl Glucoside, Tromethamine, Xanthan Gum, T-Butyl Alcohol, Tocopherol, Carbomer.”
According to Incidecoder, the Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream uses four UV filters: Uvinul A Plus (chemical UVA filter), Uvinul T 150 (chemical UVB filter), Tinosorb M (hybrid chemical/physical UVA/UVB filter), and Uvasorb HEB (chemical UVB and UVA II filter), all of them new generation filters that are used in Asia and Europe, but not approved by the US FDA. You may already know this, but the US FDA is very slow in approving new, safe UV filters for some reason, which is why European and Asian sunscreens tend to have nicer textures and more cutting edge sunscreen technology.
As for the rest of the ingredients list, there really is nothing to complain about: the formula is definitely targeting dryer and dehydrated skin types, with a host of hydrating and moisturising ingredients such as humectant hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and the name-giving birch sap juice. The sun cream also contains niacinamide and licorice root extract, both excellent for brightening and pore care. Antioxidant-rich mugwort extract also works as a skin calming agent, as does allantoin. If you are sensitive to fragrance, be aware that the sunscreen contains chamomile essential oil, though given that my nose can’t even detect it in the product, I would wager a guess and say the concentration is pretty low overall. I actually thought this was fragrance-free until I studied the INCI list!
Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream SPF50+: OK, But how Good Is It, really?
For me, a sunscreen has to fullfill the following criterias: it has to be safe and reliable, have a pleasant enough texture that I don’t mind applying and re-applying, and play nice with other products including makeup. I don’t expect a sunscreen to be the second coming in terms of what it does for my skin, because in all truth, what else besides protecting me from UV damage while not looking and feeling awful does a sun care product need to do?
We’ve already learned that the Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream had its SPF50+ PA++++ claims independently tested and confirmed, so we’re good on the “safe and reliable” front (at least at this point in time…). So, let’s have a look at that texture, shall we?
The Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream has a lotion-like texture, not runny like some more essence-like sunscreens, and definitely more moisturising than other formulas I’ve tested lately. Since this is a chemical sunscreen, it doesn’t leave a white cast and spreads easily, very much like a regular moisturiser.
You can see that the texture is very lightweight once it spreads out, easily blendable without any streakiness and free from that off-putting “greasy” feeling so many Euro sunscreen have. Truly, this feels just like a regular moisturising cream! Because it is so light and absorbs so well, reapplying isn’t a problem, though I haven’t really tested how it would reapply over foundation. I’m thinking if you use a sponge or similar applicator to reapply, it should be totally doable without any streakiness.
Now, having said that, if I had to mention anything “negative” (not really fully negative, honestly) about the Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream it would be that at least for my combo skin, it is a tad too rich. I still really enjoy using it, especially now in winter and again, don’t find it greasy, but I do find the slightly lighter make p:rem UV Defense Me. Daily Sun Essence* just a tiny bit more comfortable throughout the day. But really, this is mostly a personal preference and not a real shortcoming in regards to the Round Lab sunscreen. I just really, really like that make p:rem sunscreen!
All in all I would say that the Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream is particularly well suited for dryer skin types, a noticeably moisturising sunscreen that has a super pleasant texture that also plays well with other products. I never had issues with pilling or anything of the sort, even when reapplying. Truly, this sunscreen deserves all the hype it is getting!
So, where can you purchase the Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream SPF50+? You can find the 50ml sun cream at Stylevana* for roughly 19$, at Stylekorean* for 22$, or at Jolse* for regularly 19$ and currently on sale for only 13$. There is also a 1+1 set on sale at Olive Young Global* for 26.44$!
Let me know in the comments: Have you tried this sunscreen yet?
Take care guys, and stay safe – don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook for all the latest K-Beauty and skincare news, and check out my other work, e.g. my review of the AXIS-Y Quinoa One Step Balanced Gel Cleanser!
*Affiliate Links, meaning I earn a small commission if you decide to use the link to purchase an item. This does not raise the purchase price for you, and it helps me and my blog to grow – so, thank you for supporting me in this way!!!