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We tried Beauty of Joseon's Relief Sun, the 'miracle' sunscreen blowing up everyone's secret Facebook group — here's our honest review

For under $20, the anti-aging Korean skin care phenomenon contains a potent SPF 50+ along with centuries-old skin-healing ingredients.

Last year, one of the moms in a private Facebook group I belong to sent out an S.O.S.: "Help! I need a new sunscreen for my ultra-sensitive 52yo skin that won't make me break out and doesn't cost a fortune." Within minutes, she had a dozen or so replies, many recommending the same product: "Beauty of Joseon! It's the best sunscreen ever, with a ton of sun protection" "You have to try Beauty of Joseon! I don’t know how it works but it’s like a miracle product for my easily irritated skin." "There's no better face sunscreen than Beauty of Joseon. Trust." The Korean skin-care product they were all raving about was something called Relief Sun, an SPF 50+ chemical sunscreen from the K-beauty line Beauty of Joseon with thousands of positive reviews from global users across the internet.

Relief Sun is one of the most popular sunscreens globally, with legions of devoted fans. 

$18 at Yes Style

What is Beauty of Joseon?

If you follow beauty influencers or spend any time in Reddit's beauty forums, you've probably come across Beauty of Joseon. The mega-popular Korean brand launched in 2013, with the idea of bringing centuries-old beauty techniques from the Joseon dynasty and traditional Korean herbal medicine (or hanbang) to skin care. In the past few years, Beauty of Joseon's products — and particularly its sunscreen, similar to French versions like La Roche-Posay Anthelios — have become in-the-know cult favorites, whispered about among beauty experts all over the globe who praise the line for its wrinkle-softening, anti-aging properties along with catering to the needs of ultra-sensitive skin.

Beauty of Joseon Relief Sun Review

Beauty of Joseon's Relief Sun SPF 50+ softens wrinkles while providing highly-effective sun protection. (Beauty of Joseon)
Beauty of Joseon's Relief Sun SPF 50+ PA++++ softens wrinkles while providing highly-effective sun protection. (Beauty of Joseon)

Listen, I am always skeptical of a product this popular that receives this much hype, but I could tell Relief Sun was of high-quality upon opening the tube.

For starters, the texture is silky and lightweight. When I squeezed it out of the tube, it reminded me of old-school Oil of Olay, in the best possible way — creamy, but not heavy. However, what happened next is what truly sold me on Beauty of Joseon's Relief Sun. When I applied to my face, it absorbed into my skin within literal seconds, leaving behind a slightly-dewy, but not at all greasy glow. This is what I — and the thousands of skin-care aficionados obsessed with this sunscreen — came for: a satin-y finish that not only protects your skin but seems to soften, smooth and transform it.

Does Beauty of Joseon Relief Sun work?

I tried Relief Sun over a week out in the Los Angeles sun — walking the dog in the mornings and on a longer hike around noon. It protected my skin from a sunburn even on an unseasonably hot day, in full sun. It's an excellent option for everyday, for under makeup or just walking around. It is not as good for swimming or any kind of high-intensity outdoor exercise: the formula is not sweat or waterproof.

Relief Sun offers powerful broad-spectrum SPF 50+ PA++++, is lightweight and highly moisturizing and absorbs quickly with little to zero white cast. Rice extract, niacinamide and probiotics soften skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines. An "organic" chemical sunscreen, it does not contain oxybenzone nor octinoxate.

  • Absorbs into skin quickly
  • Offers potent sun protection
  • Ultra hydrating
  • Lightweight texture
  • No white cast
  • Affordable
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Especially good for sensitive skin
  • Not water resistant
$18 at Yes Style

The SPF and PA protection in Relief Sun protects against both cancer-causing UVB rays and UVA rays, which cause skin damage like premature wrinkles and sunspots. The product's SPF and PA ratings have been independently tested in various labs in South Korea and Spain.

Are Beauty of Joseon's products safe?

The short answer to this is: Yes! Beauty of Joseon's products — including Relief Sun — are safe for your skin. They're made exclusively in Korea utilizing natural ingredients like green tea, vitamin E and rice bran water along with medically-approved chemicals like Tinosorb M, which is proven to protect skin against both UVA and UVB rays. Relief Son is free of most top allergens. Plus, it's vegan and cruelty-free, though, as it contains chemicals, cannot be considered entirely reef safe. If you're looking for a reef-safe sun protection for your face, you may want to try a mineral tinted sunscreen.

What does the PA ++++ mean?

When it comes to sunscreen, Americans are most familiar with the SPF or Sun Protection Factor system, which tells us around how long a product will protect us from UVB rays (for example, if you apply Beauty of Joseon's SPF 50+ and go out in the sun, you're protected from a sunburn about 50 times longer than you would be if with bare skin). The "PA" in PA ++++ is slightly different. It represents the "Protection Grade of UVA"— essentially measuring how well a particular sunscreen will protect your skin from UVA rays. This rating system was developed in Japan, and depending on the country, is calculated in different ways, which means it's harder to precisely measure a product's UVA protection level. Suffice to say, having some PA+ is better than none, especially with a face sunscreen.